Brainy Quote of the Day

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Science of Beatboxing...

As a young man, exposed to the first rap song - The Fatback Band: King Tim III - Personality Jock, and the first rap album, The Sugar Hill Gang (all in the same crazy week, mind you) - I could never do it, but it's nice to see someone has actually studied it.

However, as evidenced from the Large Hadron Collider rap... ahem, the physicists would need a few more decades of practice to master it (my humble opinion).
Many of the same mechanisms observed in human speech production were exploited for musical effect, including patterns of articulation that do not occur in the phonologies of the artist's native languages: ejectives, clicks and implosives.
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The scientists found the beatboxer, a speaker of American English and Panamanian Spanish, was able to generate a wide range of sound effects that do not appear in either of the languages he spoke. Instead, they appeared similar to clicks seen in African languages such as Xhosa from South Africa, Khoekhoe from Botswana, and !Xóõ from Namibia, as well as ejective consonants — bursts of air generated by closing the vocal cords — seen in Nuxálk from British Columbia, Chechen from Chechnya and Hausa from Nigeria and other countries in Africa.

"A key finding of our work is to show that we can describe the basic sounds used by the artist with the same system used to describe speech sounds, which suggests that there is a common inventory of sounds that are drawn upon to create any vocal expression," Proctor said.

The research also sheds light on the human ability to emulate sounds, and on how the human instincts for music and language can overlap and converge. Also, "learning more about beatboxing and other forms of vocal musical expression may offer insights into novel future speech therapy," Narayanan said.

Inside Science: The Science Behind 'BeatBoxing'

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