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Beatboxing Phonetics - An Animated Guide

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Introduction

Welcome to this short animated guide to the phonetic descriptions of the mouth parts used in beatboxing. Hover over a title in the image above to see the position of the mouth parts.

In beatboxing sounds are created by releasing or forcing air inwards or outwards through gaps between parts of the mouth - the lips, teeth, tongue, alveolar ridge, hard palate, soft palate, uvular, pharynx, epiglottis and vocal chords!

This guide explains the phonetic terms for the mouth parts used in sound creation. Note that it does not show whether a sound is forced, unforced, inwards, outwards, aspirated or unaspirated!

The Mouthparts used in Sound Creation

Bilabial

Bilabial literally means two-lipped. Bilabial beatbox sounds can be created with the two lips. An example of a bilabial sound is the Classic Kick Drum { B }.

Labiodental

Labiodental literally means lip-teeth. Labiodental beatbox sounds are created with the top front teeth resting on the lower lip or the bottom front teeth resting on the upper lip. An example of a labiodental sound is the Toothlip Oscillation { FF } used in the voiced siren sound.

Dental

Dental means teeth. Dental beatbox sounds are created with the tip of the tongue against the rear of the upper front teeth. An example of a dental sound is the Closed Hi-hat { t }.

Interdental

Interdental means between-teeth. Interdental beatbox sounds are created with the tip of the tongue between the upper and lower from teeth. An example of an interdental sound is 'th' as in the word 'the'.

Alveolar

The alveolar ridge is the boney ridge behind the front teeth. Alveolar beatbox sounds are made with the tongue (any part) against the alveolar ridge. An example of an alveolar sound is the 808 Snare { T }.

Alveopalatal

Alveopalatal means alveolar AND palatal. This is the place where the alveolar ridge meets the hard palate on the roof of the mouth. Alveopalatal beatbox sounds are made using the tongue and the alveopalatal area. An example of an alveopalatal sound is an 'n' sound as in the word 'nose'.

Palatal

Palatal means the hard palate on the roof of the mouth. Palatal beatbox sounds are made between the tongue and the hard palate area of the mouth. An example of a palatal sound is a Click { + } made with the tip of the tongue.

Velar

Velar means the soft palate on the roof of the mouth. Velar beatbox sounds are made between the tongue (usually the back of the tongue) against the soft palate. An example of a palatal sound is a Click { + } made with the rear of the tongue or a 'g' sound as in the word 'go'.

Uvular

The uvular is the soft dangly bit at the back of your mouth. Uvular beatbox sounds are made between the back of the tongue and the uvular. An example of a uvular sound is the Uvular Oscillation { GG }.

Pharyngeal

The pharynx is the very rear of your mouth - what we would call our throat. Pharangeal beatbox sounds are made between the very rear of the tongue and the pharynx. An example of a pharyngeal sound is a Classic Rimshot { K } - although it must be noted that this sound can be made anywhere from the epiglottis to the hard palate.

Epiglottal

The epiglottis is the flap that restricts airflow. Epiglottal beatbox sounds are made typically by restricting or stopping airflow inwards or outwards with the epiglottis. An example of an epiglottal sound is the voiced 808 Kick Drum { ng }.

Glottal

The glottis is the area between the vocal chords. Glottal beatbox sounds are made typically by restricting or stopping airflow inwards or outwards through the glottis. An example of a sound made with the glottis is an outward Hollow Snare { isn }.

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