An inside, moving look at beatboxing body parts

MRI, a tool used to make images of all sorts of body parts (and sometimes, video of the motions thereof) has been used to look at beatboxing:

Shrikanth Narayanan.  Photo Credit: Jon VidarPara-Linguistic Mechanisms of Production in Human ‘Beatboxing’: a Real-time Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study“, Michael I. Proctor, Shrikanth Narayanan [pictured here], and Krishna Nayak, In Interdisciplinary Workshop on Singing Voice. 2010. The authors, at the University of Southern California, explain:

“Human beatboxing is a performance art in which the vocal organs are used to produce a range of percussive sounds, usually an accompaniment to lyrics spoken, rapped or sung at the same time, sometimes by the same artist. Because it is a relatively young vocal artform, beatboxing has not been extensively studied, either in the musical performance or speech science literature….

“Real-Time Magnetic Resonance Imaging was used to examine mechanisms of sound production in an American male beatbox artist. The subject’s repertoire was found to include percussive elements generated using a wide range of articulatory configurations, and three of the four airstream mechanisms normally observed in human speech production: pulmonic egressive, glottalic egressive, and lingual ingressive. In addition, pulmonic ingressive production were observed, which appears to be used strategically as a means of managing breathing during extended beatbox performance. The data offer insights into the paralinguistic use of articulatory gestures, and the ways in which they are coordinated in musical performance.”

Here’s the video:

BONUS (different body parts, performing a different activity): Pek Van Andel’s Ig Nobel Prize-winning research on sexual congress, displayed as a series of MRI images that together form a video:

(Thanks to investigator Julia Lunetta for bringing this to our attention.)