Flute Beatboxing and Building Skills: Exploring the Unique Style of Flute Beatboxing

Flute Beatbox

Flute beatboxing is a unique style that blends flute extended techniques with vocal and beatboxing sounds. Greg Pattillo pioneered this technique, and even created a system of notation for the method.

Tilmann Denhard’s new book builds the skills necessary to perform beatboxing on the flute. It includes a comprehensive method with etudes and works that serve as building blocks as skill level increases.

What is beatboxing?

Vocal percussion has roots in many global music traditions, including folk and traditional African music. Performing a flute beatbox requires strong aural skills, as the process of creating and repeating sound patterns is much like playing a rhythm instrument.

It also demands a good understanding of musical timing, as well as the ability to create a sequence of different sounds that play off each other in logical and complex ways. This is why it’s important to have a solid foundation of basic musical concepts before learning to beatbox.

Although the range of articulatory effects exploited by a single beatboxer is enormous, it is ultimately reducible to coordinative structures of a limited set of articulatory primitives such as pulmonic and glottal states, labial movements, and lingual manipulations of stricture in different regions of the vocal tract. In this way, the study of a single beatboxer’s repertoire provides a basis for a formal exploration of paralinguistic phonetics in an emerging genre of vocal performance.

Origins

Flute beatboxing combines the techniques of flute playing and vocal beatboxing to create a completely new style. It has become a popular addition to contemporary music and can be used to introduce basic pedagogical concepts such as support, breath and rhythm to young students. It can also be a fun way to engage an audience that might otherwise be bored with a classical ensemble.

The current notated repertoire for flute beatbox is sparse but growing. Examples include works by Randall Woolf, Greg Pattillo and Project Trio.

Pattillo has made a series of videos on YouTube and has published a method for flute beatbox. He has also written a three movement work for flute beatbox called “Three Beats”. His videos are very popular and provide a guide to developing the technique.

Techniques

While extended techniques like overtone jumps, tongue ram, aeolian sounds and pizzicati are widely taught in flute music, beatboxing has been largely overlooked until recently. Beatboxing is a unique style of flute playing that incorporates articulation and imitative sound effects with standard flute literature and technique.

To do this the flute player must create percussive sounds by using the air to mimic the different parts of a drum kit. The most essential drum kit parts are the bass, high-hat cymbal and snare drum.

These sounds are then incorporated into the flute music to create an amazing blend of flute and beatboxing. This is a great way to showcase the power of flute and demonstrates the beauty of combining two very different musical worlds into one.

Styles

Flute beatboxing, also known as flute-boxing, is a flute extended technique which incorporates vocal percussion and aural prestidigitation (sleight of the ear). It can be performed with a wide variety of genres.

One of the best examples of this can be seen on the YouTube channel for Project Trio, a flute, cello and double bass chamber ensemble with a high energy modern sound and classically trained musicians. Another great example is Greg Pattillo’s Beatbox Method, which is a comprehensive and thoroughly readable method that takes the flute-beatboxing concept to a whole new level.

Its use can also be an excellent way to teach a range of pedagogical concepts, including support, breathing, rhythm and tone. Combined with the power of Soundpaint’s layering, morphing and modulation, it can take your music to new levels of creativity and expression.

Audience

A Hull woman, Claire Holdich, combines flute playing with drum noises to create a one of a kind sound. She’s a flute teacher and performer who has blown away audiences with her unique style.

Flute beatboxing attracts a different audience to classical music. The sounds can be as haunting as whistle tones or pianissimo colors, or as high energy as slap tonguing and different types of beatboxing.

Although the current notated repertoire for flute beatbox is sparse, new works are being written. These pieces can help students improve their flute technique and delve into contemporary beatbox performance. They also offer valuable exercises and studies to develop beatbox skills, as well as provide a framework for individual, creative exploration. Compositions by Randall Woolf, Greg Pattillo, Project Trio and Tilmann Denhard are amongst those currently available.

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