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TED2003

James Burchfield: Playing invisible turntables

Filmed
Views 798,010

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

- 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

Let's just get started here.
00:13
Okay, just a moment.
00:22
(Whirring)
00:25
All right.
00:31
(Laughter)
00:33
Oh, sorry.
00:45
(Music) (Beatboxing)
00:48
Thank you.
04:34
(Applause)
04:35
Translated by Joseph Geni
Reviewed by Thu-Huong Ha

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About the speaker:

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.

More profile about the speaker
James Burchfield | Speaker | TED.com