Notating Beatboxing Sounds

When I started my residency here at Schloss Solitude on the topic of beatboxing, one of my aims was to develop a notation for this technique that would be suitable for experimental music.

There are two main strategies for this: one based on the sound itself, and one based on the point of articulation.

Basing the notation on the sound would be an easier thing to do for composers as one could draw on the notation of percussion, which looks like this:

One big advantage would also be that any notation software can notate percussion in this way.

Unfortunately, this notation is complicated for the performer to use. The tongue doesn’t translate from the picture instantly as the visualization has nothing to do with the physiological structure of the mouth.

Beatboxers themselves have already worked on the question of notation, and there have also been attempts from »outside.« Each of these lists has its issues: too complicated to be usable, scientifically incorrect use of the IPA, signs being too complex/detailed, etc. None of the lists is universally understandable.

One really interesting research and ‘translating attempt’ is this:

It shows the imitated instrument, the Standard Beatbox Notation (SBN), as well as the words used by the subject for these sounds in addition to a highly complex IPA transcription. When trying to animate the IPA notation, I found that my own sounds would sometimes vary from those described by the IPA sign. My ingressive rimshot is a pulmonic. Ingressive lingual to me sounds rather like a special click. What is really missing here are the audio files of the sounds (although they might exist in the original publication of this article). It is very important to not only have all these descriptions, but to also be able to hear and empathize with the sound and its production oneself.

With this, I am starting my own personal list and notation of my beatbox sounds:



To be continued.