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Body percussion:the art of utilizing the human body to create sounds and rhythms
The human body is indeed a wonderful musical tool, an instrument everyone has at all times. When utilized at its fullest musical potential, the sounds it produces are awe inspiring and can keep your feet and hands moving the entire day.
So it is that I discuss body percussion, a musical genre that anyone can enjoy. Simply put, body percussion is the use of the human body to create rhythm.It can include hitting the chest, slapping the thighs, stomping the feet, clapping, whistling or even flicking the cheeks. In the case of Ethiopian music, even armpits are used to create percussive sounds and rhythms!
The four main sound that head this amazing percussive variety of music are
These sounds are produced by the most accessible musical instrument to us all, the human body.
Why I love body percussion
There are many reasons why body percussion is a much loved musical form.It is truly fascinating how the human body can create the most enchanting rhythms imaginable!
It is accessible.
Even if one may think that he or she is not musical, everyone has an innate sense of rhythm. Everyone can make use of the human body to create sounds, even if he or she has not had much training in music.
It in inexpensive.
Body percussion is experiencing music in the most cost free way possible. There is no need to purchase expensive musical instruments for musical enjoyment!
Body percussion is mobile!
One may need a little space, but body percussion can be experienced anywhere, at any time. You only need to move the most mobile musical instrument of all - yourself!
Body percussion is truly creative expression.
Personally, one of the most creative forms of expression is doing things from scratch, and body percussion really involves creating out of almost nothing. it is musical expression in its barest form.
It can be performed on its own or with instruments.
Body percussion can be enjoyed on its own or with musical instruments. So if there is no instrument available, there is nothing to fear. Music can still be enjoyed anyway!
Creating rhythms is a fun activity anyone can enjoy. Once involved, the snapping and the foot stomping is difficult to stop!
Saman Dance from Acheh
Different types of body percussion
Body percussion is an ancient musical form which has been used by people the world over since time immemorial. Here are some of the oldest forms of body percussion still used in parts of the world today.
Ethiopian Armpit Music
Hailing from Africa, this form of music was enjoyed in courtship rituals and of course as entertainment. Musical instruments were not easily available, so the human body was turned to as a form of enjoyment. It may sound quirky, but the armpits create terrific rhythms. Ethiopian Armpit Music is a captivating and one of the earliest forms of
Close to the African heart, The Gumboot is essentially the music of Africa, involving the use of the gumboots as a drum kit. Originally performed in the diamond mines of South Africa, black diamond mine workers were not allowed to talk, so they stomped their gumboots as a form of enjoyment and communication. This form of music later evolved into a dance form which honored their struggles.
The Indonesian Saman
A harmonious dance hailing from Indonesia, specifically Acheh and performed in the Gayo language, this dance is traditionally performed by men in odd numbers. It uses body percussion in a subtle way, including clapping, rocking motions and other movements in complete harmony.
Two rows of odd numbered performers dance in unison, in what is actually a religious ritual. led by a Sheikh, this tempo of the dance increases as it progresses, making it interesting to watch.
Body percussion is a popular form of music in the USA, with popular percussion groups and performers coming to the fore. So, what is the Hambone?
This percussive dance, also known as the Pattin' Juba was an African-American plantation dance brought over to the United States by West African plantation workers who performed it because rhythmic instruments were not allowed due to fear of secret codes hidden in the drumming.
The Juba is a percussive dance style that includes steps line the "Pigeon Wing" and "Blow the Candle Out." It usually ends with a step known as the "Long Dog Scratch." Modern Tap dances of today have their history in the Hambone!
Having its roots in Andalusa and a dance of the roman gypsies who brought it over to Spain, the flamenco is a combination of music, song and dance.The dance is percussive, characterized by clapping and rhythmic tapping. Body slapping is sometimes used as well. A social dance, it is very much enjoyed still.
A percussive dance developed by African American college students, this dance uses steps, claps and the spoken word to produce a compelling combination of sound and movement.
Another percussive dance style, clogging was a rhythmic dance movement developed during the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom. Industrial workers wore clogs, and these were used to tap on each other as well as on the floor. it can be performed with song or in accompaniment with tap dance.
A more modern form of dance that has its roots in the Juba, this involves tapping shoes to create rhythmic phrases. It gravitates towards the jazz form. although it can involve some clapping, tap dance focuses mainly on, of course, the feet.
A flamenco dance
Why is body percussion useful
Body percussion is not just a form of entertainment - it can be useful in many ways.
Body percussion can be used as an ice-breaking, team building activity among staff in an office, or even in the classroom to create rapport. Percussion games can be weaved in to help people break the ice.
I used to use body percussion at the start of the year with new music classes. in a form of Simon Says, I got students to either follow a rhythm created by anyone in the class or, if Simon did not say anything, to create their own rhythms others may have to continue. For restless teens, it was a lot of fun.
Body percussion can be learned by anyone.
It is a perfect musical form for those who do not want to handle musical instruments to learn. All one needs is a sense of rhythm, which all of us, believe it or not, innately have.
Body percussion is fun!
If anyone is stuck for a quick fun activity at any time, why not try body percussion? It is inexpensive and a great stress reliever!
Keith Terry Performs
Famous Body Percussionists
An accomplished musician and dancer, this profoundly talented gentleman founded Cross-Pulse, a non-profit organization dedicated to inter-cultural music and dance. Keith began displacing what he was learning on the drums onto the human body. Influenced by the percussive dance moves mentioned earlier, he soon developed unique body rhythms very much his own.
Terry believes in internalizing rhythms, which can then be expressed in any number of ways.
A phenomenal percussion group hailing from the United Kingdom, they have used percussive music so uniquely that it has become a form of its own. These performers not only experiment with body percussion, they combine it with the use of any everyday objects they can find.
Stomp! is so popular that it is used quite extensively in music education today to make activities in the classroom more engaging. I often get students to bring objects from home which can be used to create rhythms in groups. If they did not have instruments, the solution was simple.Just use the body!
From Brazil, this fantastic group uses the human body to create an wonderful organic mix of sounds. Scenic and talented, the group has a repertoire of its own improvisations, compositions and interacts well with audiences.\
An Irish dance group, these fine young men and women tap dance to Irish rhythms to a fantastically quick beat . Pulsating and forceful, this group's percussive style is an up tempo one which is difficult to beat.
Body percussion is accessible, inexpensive musical fun. It is also a creative way for all to enjoy themselves!
Copyright (C) by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
No part of this work is to be reproduced without prior consent of the author.
Stomp Out Loud
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