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An example of beatboxing
Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion which primarily involves the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue and voice. It may also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. Beatboxing is connected with hip hop culture although it is not limited to hip hop music.

History of beatboxing


Vocal imitation of percussion sounds has existed for a very long time. One tradition is thought to have originated in Indiamarker several thousand years ago: the tradition of bol, and the Chinese developed Kouji, a type of vocal performing arts. These had little or no relation with hip hop, however, and have no direct connection to modern Eastern Hip Hop. Some African traditions use performers' bodies (clapping, stomping) to make musical sounds to maintain a steady musical pace. They made sounds using their mouths by loudly breathing in and out, which is done in beatboxing today.

An American style called eefing first emerged in rural Tennesseemarker near the beginning of the 20th century.

Hip hop origins

Beatboxing in hip hop originated in 1980s. Its early pioneers include Doug E. Fresh, Buffy from the Fat Boys & Wise . Credits of the three include Doug E. Fresh for being the self proclaimed first "human beatbox,", Buffy for helping perfect the art & Wise for taking it to a level that inspired other individuals to want to be a human beatbox. Wise with his human turntable technique inspired a whole new fan base of human beatboxers. The term "beatboxing" is derived from the mimicry of the first generation of drum machines, then known as beatboxes.

Modern beatboxing

Beatboxing's current popularity is due in part to artists such as Vaughan Chadderton, Rahzel, Kenny Muhammad, and Matisyahu, who have promoted the art form across the world. Websites such as and YouTube also contribute substantially toward raising the profile of beatboxing.

Many a cappella singing groups have one or more members using this technique, especially when performing songs which have a heavy percussive element, in order to closely mimic or duplicate the original sound.

One of the modern singers and musicians who started to add his own sounds to his music was Michael Jackson in songs like Billie Jean, Tabloid Junkie, and Who Is It. Most of the time, he admitted that he needed a tape recorder to record this sound that came to his mind just to not forget them and around that base built the rest of the tune.

In 2005 the world championship of beatboxing was organised in Leipzig, Germanymarker. The participants came from all over the world, and included Tom Thumb, and Joel Turner (Australia), White Noise (Ireland), Roxorloops (Belgium), Poizunus (Canada), Faith SFX (UK). After several heats of beatbox battles, the final between Roxorloops (Belgium) and Joel Turner (Australia) was decided. The five judges had a difficult time picking a winner and called for two extra rounds after which Joel Turner won the world championship.

Recently, a 2009 beatboxing world championship took place where over 52 beatboxers and many female beatboxers competed for the title. The female British winner Bellatrix (UK), and the male Swiss winner, ZeDe (SUI), are now the holders of the largest beatboxing title.


As with other musical disciplines, some form of musical notation or transcription may sometimes be useful in order to describe beatbox patterns or performances. Sometimes this takes the form of ad hoc phonetic approximations, but is occasionally more formal.

Standard Beatbox Notation (SBN) was created by Mark Splinter and Gavin Tyte of in 2006 as an alternative to International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) transcription, which had been used sparingly before then.

Selected beatbox discography

This list is a selected discography of commercial releases which are mostly/entirely beatbox-based or are otherwise notable/influential records in the history of beatboxing and its popularisation.




See also


  1. The History of Beatboxing,
  2. D. Stowell and M. D. Plumbley, Characteristics of the beatboxing vocal style, Technical Report C4DM-TR-08-01, 2008.
  3. Doug E. Fresh | Music Artist | Videos, News, Photos & Ringtones | MTV
  4. Garfield, J., , 2002. (A documentary on the history of the art form, including interviews with Doug E. Fresh, Emanon, Biz Markie, Marie Daulne of Zap Mama, Kyle Faustino and others.)
  5. TyTe. "Standard Beatbox Notation",
  6. Liu, Marian (January 4, 2007 Thursday). "Beatboxing: an oral history; Hip-Hoppers Turn to Voice-Based Rhythms", San Jose Mercury News (California).

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