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TED2003

James Burchfield: Playing invisible turntables

February 2, 2003

Human beatbox James "AudioPoet" Burchfield performs an intricate three-minute breakdown -- sexy, propulsive hip-hop rhythms and turntable textures -- all using only his voice.

James Burchfield - Human beatbox
James Burchfield is a human beatbox. Using only his mouth, tongue, throat and vocal cords, he performs heavy, layered, club-style jams that seem to come from real drum machines and lusciously scratched turntables. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Let's just get started here.
00:15
Okay, just a moment.
00:24
(Whirring)
00:27
All right.
00:33
(Laughter)
00:35
Oh, sorry.
00:47
(Music) (Beatboxing)
00:51
Thank you.
04:36
(Applause)
04:38
Translator:Joseph Geni
Reviewer:Thu-Huong Ha

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James Burchfield - Human beatbox
James Burchfield is a human beatbox. Using only his mouth, tongue, throat and vocal cords, he performs heavy, layered, club-style jams that seem to come from real drum machines and lusciously scratched turntables.

Why you should listen

Outside of the hip-hop world, the art of "human beatboxing" was mostly overlooked until the droves came to YouTube. For that trend -- from obscure fad to open mic-night fixture to full-scale Internet meme -- some credit is due to James Burchfield. Known by the handle AudioPoet, the young artist was a main figure in Seattle beatboxing competitions and open-mics in the early 2000s, and then on larger stages like San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

For a musician whose goal is "enlightenment of the mind," Burchfield has a fairly concrete tack: studying the mathematical formulas that are the foundation of music. He brings that knowledge -- and an instinct for dance-friendly grooves that simulate seemingly impossible-to-mimic machine sounds -- onto every stage.

The original video is available on TED.com
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