Beatboxing (also beatbox) is a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue and voice.

"Little is known about the structures involved in beatboxing and if it poses a risk of injury to the vocal tract," said Sims, associate professor of otolaryngology. To achieve positive results, Sims imaged the vocal tracts of four male beatbox artists. He also recorded artists as they performed various isolated and combination beatbox sounds.

Sims found that beatboxers use the whole vocal tract to produce a range of sounds, spreading the energy among several structures and minimizing wear on any single part.

"Keeping the glottis -- space between the vocal cords -- open means that beatboxing may actually be protective of the vocal folds," he added.

The whole vocal tract was used when beatboxers made beats, spreading the energy around that kept them safe from developing scar tissue that are usually developed in singers who strain their vocal cords.

In fact, some of the techniques that beatboxers use could help singers relieve stress on their vocal cords. For instance, using muscles to elongate the vocal tract could help singers get themselves a little closer to that high note, before engaging the vocal folds, said the study.

Next on Sims' agenda is to study female beatboxers as women use their voices differently as their larynxes are smaller and shaped differently than men's, said the study. The findings of the study were published in the latest edition of the Journal of Voice.


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