Seboom - You can beatbox

How to beatbox in 6 steps

With this beginners’ course everyone can learn to beatbox!

From: Seboom® Online Beatbox Academy

You want to learn beatboxing but you don’t know how to get started? We’ll take you step-by-step through the basics of beatboxing.

Seboom - Drumset How to beatbox - start
Step #1 How to beatbox - Step 1 - Breathing technique

Breathing technique

Well-controlled breathing is not only healthy, but also the solid foundation for human beatboxing. The notation shows you when you should breathe in and out.

About breathing

There are a few tricks available to help you breathe unobtrusively during beatboxing. Different beats require different ways of breathing; for example, beatboxing creates various sounds by inhaling. No matter how you breathe during beatboxing, after some time the saliva in the mouth regulates itself accordingly - it "gets used" to the new breathing rhythm - and breathing adapted to the beat is then very easy. Over time, each person also develops their own breathing technique, as everyone has a different lung volume and an individual physique.

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Step #2 How to beatbox - Step 2 - The hi-hat

The hi-hat

The closed hi-hat is very easy to learn. It's the simplest sound in beatboxing, so in this video we get you started with a simple hi-hat groove.

About the hi-hat

A hi-hat in a drum kit has a pair of cymbals which are mounted horizontally on a stand with a pedal. In the standard setup you can use the pedal to open and close the hi-hat with your left foot

Closing the hi-hat cymbals with the pedal produces a relatively quiet sound, similar to that of a cabasa. Striking the hi-hat with a stick produces a fine sound when the hi-hat is closed, a rougher ("rocky") sound when it is half-open, and a loud sound when open, similar to that of a crash cymbal. Different sounds are produced depending on how long the contact between the two cymbals lasts.

The hi-hat is usually used to produce a continuous pulse or fixed rhythm („pattern“).

Step #3 How to beatbox - Step 3 - The K snare

The K snare

The K snare is an ideal snare for beginners. This snare is produced as a hard „K“ sound on an out breath. You will learn the K snare step-by-step using different vowels.

About the snare drum

The snare drum is the heart of the drum set and creates a powerful sound. In beatboxing there are a number of ways to produce this snare. You will learn these in different sessions. In the beginners’ course we begin with the easiest method.

Step #4 How to beatbox - Step 4 - The kick drum

The kick drum

The kick drum is one of the most important sounds in beatboxing. This sound is made by producing the letter "B".

About the kick drum / bass drum

This drum is the big, standing drum in a drum kit. It is played by your right foot. Because you operate it with a foot pedal it is also called the kick drum. It brings the deep, low tones and the downbeat to rock music.

Step #5 How to beatbox - Step 5 - The spoken rhythm

The spoken rhythm

In our beatbox workshops we noticed that many people found it easier to learn to beatbox when they trained using a spoken rhythm. This learning technique is also used by vocal percussionists, a capella singers and choirs.

About the spoken rhythm

Many of the most frequently used beatbox sounds can be easily recreated with the help of simple words and syllables. This will make it easier to remember the rhythm of the beat while practicing. With this technique you can learn even the most difficult beats with ease. At Seboom we teach you the most difficult techniques in an easy and understandable way.

Step #6 How to beatbox - Step 6 - The beat

The beat

You're in the home stretch! If you've made it this far, you should be proud of yourself. Now it's time to learn the whole beat. Practice the beat over and over again and you'll see that your sounds will quickly get much better. It's true what they say: "Practice makes perfect." You can get very good at beatboxing quickly because you have the "instrument" with you at all times. So next time you're waiting for the bus, you'll know how to pass the time. Let's beatbox!

Extras

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The basics of beatboxing

Before we dive into the specific techniques of beatboxing and learning to beatbox, let’s start at the very beginning: the basics.

Welcome to your learning to beatbox course for beginners!

Are you new to beatboxing? Have you ever wondered how to learn to beatbox? You’re at the right place! Let’s start with the basics of beatboxing!

The three types of beatboxing

There are three recognized types (also called „schools“) of beatboxing. These are called: vocal percussion, old-school beatbox and new-school beatbox.

In vocal percussion the voice is the most important element. The vocal percussion technique is the easiest to learn for beginners and is well-suited for compositions with choirs.

In old-school beatbox the lips play the most important role. Old-school beatbox covers all beats which are made by lip movements and lip strength. What makes this technique special is that you can produce many different sounds - for example humming and beats - at the same time, which gives you a tremendous spectrum of sounds to choose from.

New-school beatbox is all about air: the air you use to create sounds. This technique comes the closest to sounding like actual drums. As it’s not possible to breathe out and in at the same time it’s not possible to create different sounds at the same time with this technique. However, there are a few tricks that make it possible after all.

Where beatbox music began

Beatboxing has its origins in the 1980s and began in the USA. This new sound technique was first used in hip hop, which developed in the 1970s and was built on four elements.

The DJs, MCs (Masters of Ceremony), the breakdancers and the sprayers with their graffiti art. The DJs used drum computers to produce the beats and this sound became known as beatbox (beat for the sound and box for the drum computer). When people began making the beats themselves the concept of „human beatbox“ was born.

Roland TR-808 drumcomputer

Today beatboxing is mostly known in its human beatboxing form. It has become an art form in its own right. Beatboxers use their mouth, tongue and surrounding muscle groups (jaw, throat) to create beats which sound like the beats from a drum computer or drum kit. In fact, the sounds made by human beatboxers are in a category of their own. Alongside beats, beatboxers produce other sounds such as scratches and vocals. True beatbox champions can imitate several percussion instruments at the same time just using sophisticated breathing techniques. Human beatboxers are able to perform whole pieces of music using just their own body.

Beatbox champions include Rahzel, Kenny Muhammad, Killa Kela and Eklips. They have perfected the techniques and also developed their own styles. These great beatboxers are true musicians who use their body as their instrument.

Human beatbox: Beatboxing with your body

When you beatbox you use your whole body. To create the beats you use your mouth and tongue as well as the muscles in your cheeks, jaw and neck. The rest of your body serves to resonate the sounds, support the groove and much more.

A central element is the right breathing technique. Each beat has its own breathing rhythm. The in and out breath is also used to create sounds such as inhaling.

Beatboxers - just like all musicians - need good hearing. This is particularly true for checking the sounds. There are a number of ways to improve your hearing for beatboxing. You can use loudspeakers and microphones; you can record yourself. Often it is enough to cup your hand around your ear like a shell or put both fingers in your ears to hear yourself better.

Because your tongue and mouth play such important roles in making beats the methods used in speech therapy can be found in this art form. Logopedic exercises or warm-up routines used before singing lessons can help prepare and train the different muscles and muscle groups needed for beatboxing.

What makes up a beat?

What do you need to make beatbox sounds? Basically each beat is made of two parts: sound and rhythm. You’ll see that you can quickly learn many beatbox sounds and with just a little practice they sound clean and powerful. Add the right breathing technique and then you just need to practice until you’re a beatbox champion!

The sounds

You have an infinite range of sounds at your disposal in beatbox. The most well-known are the sounds which imitate drums - the sounds which first gave beatboxing its name - but a beatboxer can also imitate many other instruments, from the guitar to saxophone, and produce scratches and many other sounds.

The basic sounds are hi-hat, snare drum and kick drum (or bass drum). In the beatboxing lessons below you will learn these in a step-by-step beatbox training.

Seboom - Drumset

The rhythm

Rhythm and timing are both essential for beatbox music. Rhythm is a regular series of beats such as a pulse. The rhythm is closely connected with the time. The best way to imagine rhythm is to think of a metronome. This gives a regular rhythm. Exciting rhythms arise when you deviate from the regular rhythm - without becoming too unrhythmical. If you want to train your sense of rhythm in beatboxing, you can also use a metronome: either just stand next to it for practice, or even record yourself with it and check afterwards whether you were in time. If you don't have or don't want a metronome, simply use your own body to help you and set the time with up and down movements of your hands.

The notation

Beatbox sounds can be written down - so you can visually memorize even complicated sequences and learn them even easier. The notation helps you in many ways: It shows the time, when it's time for which sound, when you should breathe in and out, and how often you have to repeat a sequence.

The time signature

The time signature is a pattern by which the notes in a piece are played or sung. It divides a piece of music into sections, each of which has the same time, for example, 3/4 time signature, 4/4 time signature, 6/8 signature, and so on. You can use a metronome in beatboxing to set or keep the time. You can see how the time signature looks in the notation in the following graphic: It shows a 4/4 time signature in the grid.

Beatbox Notation - The time signature

Sound sequence

The combination or stringing together of sounds creates a sequence of sounds and therefore a beat. By following the sequence of sounds in the grid you can see exactly when to produce each sound. Almost every beatbox sound can be written down with letters:

  • Kick drum = B
  • Closed hi-hat = Ts
  • Opened hi-hat = Tss
  • Snare drum = Pf
  • K snare = K
Beatbox Notation - Sound sequence

Each letter or group of letters stands for a sound and that's exactly how we write the beatbox sounds in the notation. Watch the red line moving from left to right across the grid in our videos - it shows you exactly when it’s time for each sound.

Visual support so you know when to take a breath

Since it might not be quite clear at the beginning at which sound you should breathe in, breathe out or not breathe, the notation shows you exactly these things with arrows and colors. The in breath is shown with a green arrow pointing downwards, the out breath with a white arrow pointing upwards. If there is no arrow above the sound, only your pure muscle power is needed - without breathing.

Beatbox Notation - Visual support so you know when to take a breath

The repetitions

The number of repetitions is displayed above the bar, which indicates the end of the beat or part of it. So you always know how often the beat or single exercise should be repeated. The number counts down after each repetition so that you always have an overview. Next to the repetitions, the notation on the far right, next to the "end line", shows you the beginning of the next beat. So you always see exactly what comes next, and you can prepare yourself - and beatbox smoothly.

Beatbox Notation - The repetitions

The grid

In our notation the grid indicates the different time signatures.

Extras Beatbox battles

Beatbox battles

Here you’ll learn all about beatbox battles, the rules of beatbox battling, which battles there are and where they happen.

What happens at a beatbox battle?

Similar to rap, there are also beatbox battles (beatbox competitions), which take place in public or simply between two beatboxers without an audience. There are many battles that are held as an event where each beatboxer is judged by a jury based on technique, style or musical creativity. Single performances are common, but also confrontations of two or more beatboxers who take turns to show their skills. The duration of the performance has a time limit.

Today there is a "Beatbox Battle Championship" (national championship) held in many countries, from which a world championship is then composed. The Berlin hip-hop artist Bee Low (Alexander Bülow) has been organizing the "Beatbox Battle World Championship" since 2002, in which beatboxers and beatbox teams from all over the world compete against each other.

In addition to the desire to win the much sought-after title, these competitions motivate beatboxers to improve their techniques while offering them the opportunity to compare their skills with others and learn new things. Competitions are a great way to improve your beatboxing. During the battles there is a lot of free improvisation and the participants often try to respond to their opponent's performance.

It should also be mentioned that the competitions are, of course, also open to women, but women's participation has so far been rather limited. There is a separate category for women, so let's see what you can do, girls!

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