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Beatboxing as an Instrument

By Solomon O-b (S.3.O)

Here's a thought!

The other day i had a friend tell me that Beatboxing was not an instrument due to the fact that it's not in an orchestra (which is strange reasoning to say the least) ?!?!? I then proceeded to tell her about the Kenny Muhammed Clips to prove her wrong ūüėČ

After this i did some research into where beatboxing fits as far as instrumentation?

Wikipedia definiton of a musical instrument: 'A musical instrument is constructed or used for the purpose of making the sounds of music. In principle, anything that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument.'

So by this definiton, our mouth is the instrument from which we make music, which actually contains several more instruments.

Technically each component of our mouths (lips, tongue, vocal chords, etc.) can be classed as separate instruments in their own right.

As well as this, some can also technically be classed as a different type of instrument to another, depending on the way they are played and the classification sytem used to classify the instrument. And to go even further down this route, some body parts could possibly be classed as several types of instrument in one!

Here is a list and definiton of some instrument types based on the Victor-Charles Mahillon classification system:

  • A string instrument¬†- (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings.
  • A wind instrument¬†- is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator (usually a tube), in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into (or over) a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determinedby the length of the tube and by manual modifications of the effective length of the vibrating column of air. In the case of some wind instruments, sound is produced by blowing through a reed; others require buzzing into a metal mouthpiece.
  • A percussion instrument¬†- is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement, shaken, rubbed, scraped, or by any other action which sets the object into vibration.

So based on all this, our teeth can be classed as one type of instrument when hit by the tongue (percussion), and our vocal chords another (wind instrument). Furthermore, our lips for example, could be classed as not only an instrument, but as a percussion instrument as well as a wind instrument.

Now, if we looked at our Beatboxing instruments and classified them using the Sachs-Hornbostel classification system, (the system widely used today in contemporary music) we could possibly have even more types of instruments within us, depending on how they are used.

Sachs-Hornbostel classification system:

The original Sachs-Hornbostel system classified instruments into four main groups:

  • Idiophones, which would be an instrument that you could hit, strike, shake or scrape - such as the xylophone and rattle. Theyproduce sound by vibrating themselves; they are sorted into concussion, percussion, shaken, scraped, split, and plucked idiophones. (One lip hitting another, tongue hitting teeth, one set of teeth against another)
  • Membranophones, which would be an instrument that uses a stretched skin, or membrane (key word being "stretched") such as drums or kazoos, produce sound by a vibrating membrane; they are sorted into predrum membranophones, tubular drums, friction idiophones, kettledrums, friction drums, and mirlitons. (Possibly a very tight lip oscilation or stretching the lips for scratching)
  • Chordophones, which would be an instrument that uses stretched strings or cords - such as the piano or cello, produce sound by vibrating strings; they are sorted into zithers, keyboard chordophones, lyres, harps, lutes, and bowed choredophones.
  • Aerophones, which would be an instrument that you produce a sound by blowing air into - such as the pipe organ or oboe, produce sound by vibrating columns of air; they are sorted into free aerophones, flutes, organs, reedpipes, and lip-vibrated aerophones. (Forcing air into the cheeks).

So, to some up, we as beatboxers are certainly musicians and in fact play more instruments than most, and some even at the same time. Don't EVER let ANYONE tell you otherwise, and if they do! show them this article! ha

I've counted at least four and im sure one of you would be able to suggest more!

Peace to all you multi-instrumentalists! ūüėÄ

S.3.O

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