The first company I got placed to was Mistral Solutions and they gave us a two-day orientation program after the placement process in Bangalore. It was full of creative spark. And I had a lot of fun with my college mates and other prospective colleagues. In one particular session, they brought in a somewhat eccentric guy who made the entire room go mad just using his voice. He mimicked voices of Nightingale, pigeon, rain, train and what’s more the entire drum beats and percussion instruments!
After his performance, he started explaining the art called Beatboxing. I was completely unaware of it, back then. Beatboxing (also beat boxing or b-boxing) is a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of mimicking drum beats using one’s mouth, lips, tongue, and voice. It may also involve vocal imitation of turntablism, and other musical instruments. Beatboxing today is connected with hip-hop culture, often referred to as “the fifth element” of hip-hop, although it is not limited to hip-hop music. The term “beatboxing” is sometimes used to refer to vocal percussion in general.
The Internet has played a large part in the popularity of modern beatboxing. Alex Tew (aka A-Plus) started the first online community of beatboxers in 2000 under the banner of HUMANBEATBOX.COM. In 2001, Gavin Tyte, a member of this community created the world’s first tutorials and video tutorials on beatboxing. In 2003, the community held the world’s first Human Beatbox Convention in London featuring beatbox artists from all over the world.
Sometimes, modern beatboxers will use their hand or another part of their body to extend the spectrum of sound effects and rhythm. Some have developed a technique that involves blowing and sucking air around their fingers to produce a very realistic record scratching noise, which is commonly known as the ‘crab scratch‘. Another hand technique includes the ‘throat tap’ which involves the beatboxer tapping their fingers against their throat as they throat sing or hum.
Today there is an increase in the variety in which we see beatboxing throughout musical culture. People have gone as far as adding beatboxing in with different instruments to create a completely different sound unlike any other. Artist Greg Patillo goes as far as adding in beatboxing while playing the flute to very iconic songs. Beatbox has become modernized and has even been seen in popular movies such as Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2. Both of these movies showcase classical songs performed with a Capella covers in which all of the beats to the songs are done completely using the idea and technique of beatboxing to complete the sound capable to imitate the original song.
I’m thrown back in memory to that day in the Mistral Solutions fifth floor auditorium, sitting with my college mates in awe, witnessing something extraordinary, all because of this amazing talent named Tom Thum.