A style of rhythmic vocal and human-body performance that emulates the sound of percussion instruments. This technique has been used in a cappella groups for years, but today it is perhaps mainly associated with hip hop music.
The vocal elements of beatboxing are based on hard consonant sounds and their variations. “Buh”, “cha”, and “ka” are commonly used, usually whispered rather than spoken. In addition, beatboxers incorporate sounds that emanate from chest thumps, cheek slaps, and hand claps into their rhythmic performances.
With its origins in live performance, a significant component of beatboxing is skillful use of a microphone. Accomplished performers “work” the mic, moving it in and out to accentuate individual sounds. They often cup a cardioid mic to make use of the proximity effect to enhance low (“bass”) sounds.
The sampling era brought new life to beatboxing, since performers could load their sounds into a sampler or software program and “play” them with a keyboard or easily create loops.