Get your hi-hat on.
February 15, 2013 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Real-time MRI study of human beatboxing, with lots of videos. See what snares, kick drum effects, cymbals and more look and sound like as they happen inside the head. Here's a BBC radio segment on the project.
posted by iamkimiam (6 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I look forward to the lesion studies where they will find beat boxers who have lost specific instruments due to highly selective brain damage to the anterior cymbalate gyrus.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Related: Nate Ball at TEDxCambridge beatboxing while undergoing a live laryngoscopy onstage.
posted by themadthinker at 10:02 AM on February 15, 2013

When will we see a website showing these videos in sync with a soundtrack?
posted by deemer at 8:14 PM on February 15, 2013

Sample size = ?

Okay, so sample size is one, but I guess mouth/throat shapes should be pretty similar among most beatboxers. I was thinking it was a brain scan study at first, which is what most of the MRI studies that get constantly hyped are referring too.
posted by delmoi at 8:53 PM on February 15, 2013

From a geeky speech standpoint, this is massively cool. The thing about beatboxers is that they are able to produce sounds (phonemes) that they have never heard during normal speech.

Here are vowels and consonants in English. You'll notice that some of those vowels and consonants, like the ʉ one, do not appear on the original English phoneme list. Our American beatboxer, despite having experienced zero English words with this sound, manages to produce it (in the 'no mesh snare' sound).

One reason why it's so, so difficult for native speakers of Japanese to learn to speak English is that Japanese makes no distinction between /r/ and /l/ sounds. If they've never heard the English language, then they spent the entirety of their linguistic development not needing to distinguish between those two sounds. Their brains have spent years pruning out what makes those sounds different. And if you can't hear the difference between two sounds, you'll likely have a very difficult time producing them distinctly. Similarly, native speakers of non-tonal languages like English have a difficult time with tones. English speakers can stress different sounds or words without changing the meaning of the words, but in Mandarin, stress (prosody) matters. We can learn to produce sound outside our native speech sounds, as adult learners of second languages - and beatboxers - demonstrate, but it can be difficult.

I wish I could say more about this besides "wow, the fact that he learned control his articulators in such a way that was never necessitated by his first spoekn language is pretty rad" and "gosh, this is neat!"

If you're interested in hearing different sounds and how human mouths produce them with the tongue, lips, glottis, alveolar ridge, and other articulators, have fun with this. Warning: you may spend the next 5 minutes very intently making all kinds of noises.
posted by nicodine at 2:53 PM on February 16, 2013

Also, What beatboxing can tell us about language acquisition, from PRI's The World in Words.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:16 PM on February 26, 2013

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