Functional endoscopic analysis of beatbox performers

Andrew Sapthavee, Paul Yi, H. Steven Sims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion in which performers imitate drum sounds, interspersed with vocalization and other sounds, using their vocal tracts. Although similarities between beatboxing and singing are expected because of the anatomy involved, the medical literature has a wealth of information on singing and minimal studies on beatboxing. The objective of our study was to report on a case series of functional endoscopic evaluation of the anatomy involved in beatboxing and determine whether beatboxing may be a risk factor for phonotrauma or if this form of vocalization might be protective of the vocal folds. Methods We reviewed the flexible fiberoptic data collected from four beatbox artists who were evaluated at an outpatient Laryngology clinic. These records included videos of a standard flexible laryngoscopic evaluation during which the beatboxers performed beatbox sounds in isolation and in various combinations ("beats"), both standardized and improvised. Results All four participants were males aged 22-32 years. We found that voicing during beatboxing was not the same as full voice to have sustained phonation interlaced with percussive sounds. Performers overall demonstrated similarities in delivery of the same beatbox sounds, although subtle differences were noted between performers. Conclusions Beatboxing is a complex form of vocal percussion using the entire vocal tract. Although similarities with singing in the anatomical structures and positioning are noted in beatboxing, there are several unique and interesting anatomical processes occurring. Use of the entire vocal tract, including the pharyngeal constrictors, may actually protect against glottic injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-331
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Voice
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Beatbox
  • Beatboxing
  • Hip-hop
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Percussion
  • Singing
  • Vocal percussion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN

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