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Beatbox Puerto Rico

Introduction

Can you imagine having the capacity to create music using your body as an instrument, without the aid of amplification or complicated sound systems? This is what beatboxing is all about. Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion that consists of accurately depicting sounds from percussion instruments and creating new sounds specific to the voice for musical and artistic purposes. Although the art of vocal percussion has been practiced for thousands of years, the very specific form of beatboxing emerged from the American hip-hop scene of the 1980’s. It is sometimes referred to “the fifth element of hip hop’’. The term “beatbox” comes form the musical boxes, called “beatboxes”that rappers used as background for their rap songs. As time went by, people started to mimic the sounds made by the musical box, thus the art of “human beatboxing” emerged. Subsequently, artists like Dough E. Fresh, Rahzel, Wise, among others took the art form to a more mainstream and technical level.

Black Rhythm

My name is Edgar Garcia, AKA Black Rhythm, and I’m a 22-year old beatboxer from San Juan, Puerto Rico. I discovered beatboxing back in 2011, when I saw a random Joel Turner video on youtube. I became very interested almost immediately. I could not believe that somebody could do that using only their voice. I was fascinated by the musical and creative abilites of these artists, to the point where i decided right then and there that I was going to learn how to beatbox.  This was something that came as total surprise for me, because I had been an athlete all my life and nobody I knew could believe that I had a  hidden musical talent. Initially, I was very scared because I thought that my lack of formal musical training would be a limitation for me to learn how to beatbox. However, in the process of learning the art of beatbox, I realized that I had a talent for it, quickly learning the basic sounds and beats. As a result of practicing beatboxing,  I started to come in contact with aspects of my personality, such as the creative self, that otherwise had gone untouched or untapped. Beaboxing became one of my vehicles of creative and artistic self expression and as an emotional catharsis, as a way to blow off steam or express joy or sadness in any particular moment. In addition to this, beatboxing is also a way for me to sketch out musical ideas an bring them into being, as well as a tool that has helped me become more confident towards failure and in social settings.

Beatboxing as an art form is not particulary known in Puerto Rico. Its seen as more of a party trick,  not as something genuinely artistic or musical that requires work and practice. The amount of beatboxers in Puerto Rico is also limited. However, there have been two  open beatbox battle competitions , the first being held in 2013 and another in 2014. This was  an opportunity for both novice and advanced beatboxers to come together and showcase their skills. I was lucky enough to win both competitions.

More recently, one of my beatbox friends( Premsy beatbox) teamed up with Adam Andrew Corre to make “Beatbox Puerto Rico” a facebook page. This is a space where beatboxers from the island can post and organize shows, events and the like. This page has been instrumental in helping the beatbox community to grow in Puerto Rico, since it has exposed our work to beatboxers from the United States, Europe, and other Latin American Countries.

This article was made for the purpose of informing the general public, that beatboxing is a legitimate artistic and musical practice  like any other, requiring high levels of musicality, technicality, creativity, and linguistic inteligence. I firmly believe that beatboxing can be a vehicle for artistic and personal expression for today’s  Puerto Rican youth. Beatboxing has changed the way I look at what it means to be creative. It's not about creating “out of nowhere”, but about taking the musical styles that influence you, and making them your own. Creative thought is imperative in a ever-changing society. Puerto Rico needs creative people if we ae going effectively deal with the problems that we as a society have. Beatboxing is a vehicle that can maximize creative thinking capacities that is fun, cost-effective, and accesible for young and old. So the question is: When are you going to try beatboxing?

And for those that would rather read this in Spanish...

Beatbox Puerto Rico

Imagínate tener la capacidad de poder crear música utilizando solamente tu cuerpo como instrumento, sin la necesidad de micrófonos, equipo de sonido o programas costosos y complicados. De esto se trata el beatbox. El mismo es una forma de percusión vocal que consiste en crear música utilizando únicamente las cuerdas  vocales. El beatbox se creó en la década de los 80 en los Estados Unidos como parte del genero del hip-hop. Es parte de uno de los elementos constitutivos de este genero.  Artistas como Doug E. Fresh, Rahzel y Kenny Muhammad son responsables de diseminar este arte urbano desde lugares de procedencia como New York y Chicago hacia otras partes de Estados Unidos y del mundo.

Mi nombre es Edgar García, AKA Black Rhythm,  y soy un beatboxer  de San Juan, Puerto Rico. Empeze  a practicar el arte del beatbox a los 19 anos,  cuando comenze a cursar estudios en la Universidad de Puerto Rico- Recinto de  Río  Piedras. Unos amigos me enseñaron unos videos de artistas profesionales en el beatbox y no podía creer  que todo lo que hacían salía de sus bocas. Quede fascinado con la capacidad musical y creativa de estos artistas, tanto asi que decidi en ese momento que me iba a convertir en un beat boxer. Al principio fue muy difícil, dado a mi pobre trasfondo musical. Pero el gusto por el arte y el deseo de aprenderlo fue tal que pude sobrellevar esa limitación inicial. En la medida que voy aprendiendo el arte, me doy  cuenta que tenia mas habilidad para el beatbox de lo que pensé originalmente.Había descubierto un  nuevo talento. Comencé a ponerme en contacto con aspectos de mi personalidad que sabía que estaban ahí. En la medida que voy mejorando en mis destrezas, el beat box se convirtio en un vehiculo de expresion personal, capaz de funcionar como una catarsis de las emociones que estuviese experimentando en un momento dado.

Además, es un perfecto instrumento para sustraer mis pensamientos musicales y traerlas a la realidad. La práctica del beat box me ha ayudado a disipar el miedo al fracaso y el miedo que muchos sentimos cuando tenemos que pararnos frente a un grupo a presentar.

Desafortunadamente, el arte del beatbox no es conocida o es mal entendida por la inmensa mayoría de la población, en particular por la población puertorriqueña.  Sin embargo,  a partir del 2013 se han llevado a cabo 2 competencias abiertas de beatboxing, auspiciadas por organizaciones de la zona urbana de Santurce.  Estas han sido las primeras y unicas competencias especificamente de beatbox que se han dado en Puerto Rico. Posteriormente, lleve a cabo un taller de beatbox abierto a la comunidad  en la zona urbana de Rio Piedras, y de ese encuentro salieron 2 jovenes que ahoran practican el beatbox.  Tuve la oportunidad de salir ganador en estas competencias.  En adicion a esto,  junto con otros beatboxers de la isla, desarrollamos la pagina “Beatbox Puerto Rico” como espacio de encuentro cibernetico en beatboxers locales para conocerce y compartir informacion y nuevas tecnicas del beatbox. Esto hizo posible que la comunidad de beatboxers locales continue creciendo.

Este articulo esta dirigido a informar que el beatbox es una práctica musical legítima, que requiere esfuerzo y dedicación como cualquier otra  para poder ejecutarse a un alto nivel. Creo firmemente que el beat box puede ser utilizado como un vehículo para la expresión artística y personal de la juventud puertorriqueña.Además, el beat box ha cambiado mi visión sobre lo que significa  ser creativo. No se trata de crear algo de “la nada”, sino de sustraer toda una gama de influencias que todos tenemos, transformarlas, apropiarnos de ella y hacerlas nuestra. La creatividad es imperativa  en el contexto de un mundo tan globalizado y cambiante. Puerto Rico necesita personas creativas si vamos a lidiar con los diversos problemas que nos aquejan. El beat box  puede ser visto como un vehículo  para fomentar la creatividad que  es divertido, costo-efectivo y accesible para ninos, jovenes y adultos independientemente de su condición socioeconómica. Así que la pregunta es: Cuando tu vas a tratar el beatbox?

 

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