Beatboxing: Music Produced By Humans

In recent years, the term “beatboxing” has become increasingly popular in the hip-hop music genre, but what exactly does “beatboxing” mean? Beatboxing is the term used to describe the practice of humans using their voice (including lips, tongues and mouths) to produce vocal imitations of percussive instruments. These vocal imitations are then strung together in order to produce beats, rhythms or melodies in music. While these vocal imitations are most often found within the hip-hop genre, beat boxing is not limited to only hip-hop culture.

The concept of vocal imitation originated several thousands of years ago in India through the creation of Bol. Bol is a form of music that included the use of vocal imitation in the use of rhythmic patterns. It is also thought that traditional music of Africa has influenced the development of beat boxing, where it is common to use the body (ex. Stomping feet or clapping hands) to create rhythm. The name “beat boxing” to describe vocal imitation of percussion instruments was derived in the 1980’s after the development of drum machines, which were also known as beatboxes. The first ever proclaimed “human beatbox” was a rapper that went by the name of Doug E. Fresh in the 1980’s and since, the practice of human beatboxing has gained extreme popularity.

Society was amazed that people were able to create such closely imitated sounds to instruments, using only their voices after being exposed to the phenomenon through hip-hop music. Beatboxing is a learned skill that the majority of people can learn the basics of but as with traditional singing, everyone can learn to sing but some have a more natural gift of rhythm than others. Listening to rhythmic music and beatboxing patterns is the best way to get a feel for the type of imitations involved. Beatboxing skills can be improved through breathing control exercises as well as learning the correct pronunciations of “beatbox language”.

History of Beatboxing


Michael Winslow (The Man of 1000 Sounds)

Beatboxing Tutorial

Beatbox Sounds

Beatbox Techniques

Boxcon (International Human Beatbox Convention)

Beatboxing for Kids