Body percussion

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Body percussion may be performed on its own or as an accompaniment to song. The folk traditions of many countries include the use of body percussion. Examples of these include Indonesian saman, Ethiopian armpit music, palmas in flamenco, and the hambone from the United States.[1]

Body percussion sounds[edit]

Percussion instruments produce their sound when a player hits, scrapes, rubs or shakes them to produce vibrations. These techniques can also be applied to the human body. The body also presents several unique possibilities including the use of inhaled or exhaled air and vocal sounds.

Traditionally the four main body percussion sounds (in order from lowest pitch to highest in pitch) are:

  1. Stomp: Stamping the feet against the floor or a resonant surface.
  2. Patsch: patting either the left, right or both thighs with hands
  3. Clapping hands together
  4. Click/snapping: clicking with the thumb and middle fingers

However, there are numerous other possibilities including: hitting the chest, whistling, slapping or flicking the cheeks with an open mouth, clicking with the tongue against the roof of the mouth, grunting, and hitting the buttocks.[2]

Variations of sound are possible through changing the playing technique. For example, clapping the hands in various positions will affect factors such as pitch and resonance.

Music education[edit]

Body percussion is used extensively in music education, because of its accessibility—the human body is the original musical instrument and the only instrument that every student possesses. Using the body in this manner gives students a direct experience of musical elements, such as beat, rhythm, and metre and helps a student internalise rhythmic skills. Certain approaches to music education, including Orff, Kodály and Bapne make particular use of body percussion.

BAPNE method is not a musical method is a method of cognitive stimulation for the development of attention, memory and concentration, which is the body percussion instrument. The activities of this method are articulated in the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983) in order to engage the lobes of the brain. The purpose is not to learn musical notes, their duration or reading a score, but to stimulate the brain through the benefits of rhythm with neuroscience.


Body percussion may be performed solo or several performers may combine to create an musical ensemble. One of the most accomplished body percussion soloists is Keith Terry. Terry resides in San Francisco, California and in the 1980s he established Cross Pulse, a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation, performance and recording of rhythm-based, intercultural music and dance. Perhaps the most famous body percussion ensemble is the United Kingdom percussion group Stomp. Stomp perform in a musical genre known as trash percussion, which involves the use of non-traditional instruments combined with body percussion. In Brazil, the most well-known body percussion group is Barbatuques.

The International Body Music Festival (IBMF) is a project of Crosspulse and was founded by Artistic Director and Body Musician Keith Terry. The previous editions of the IBMF ( 2008 and 2009 ) took place in San Francisco and Oakland, California. Before coming to Brasil, the IBMF offered a presentation at the Lincoln Center with the participation of Barbatuques in New York in August 2010.

The Secretaria Municipal de Cultura de São Paulo along with the support of the American Consulate, presents the 3rd International Body Music Festival, which will be held in São Paulo, from 16th to the 21st of November 2010, including presentations and workshops with BodyMusic Artists. The IBMF, with its first presentation out of the USA, will be offering activities in the following spaces: Galeria Olido, Centro Cultural São Paulo, Teatro Cacilda Becker, Centro Cultural da Juventude, Espaço 10X21, Raies and Centro Cultural Rio Verde.

The IBMF was created by Keith Terry, American musician and body music researcher around the world, and the 3rd IBMF edition happens in partnership with Barbatuques, a Brazilian group well-known internationally as reference due to their works and researches on Body Music. The IBMF 2010 Brasil was directed by Fernando Barba and brought 11 international attractions: Slammin All_Body Band ( USA, com Keith Terry, IBMF creator ), KekeÇa ( Turkey ), Kenny Muhammad ( USA ), Tekeyé ( Colombia ), LeeLa Petronio ( France ), Max Pollak ( Áustria ), Sandy Silva ( Canada ), Step Afrika! ( USA ), Jep Meléndez ( Spain ), B.A.S.E. – Bay Area Sonic Ensemble ( USA ), Steven Harper ( USA – Brasil ), Las Flamencas ( Spain ), and also a special presentation of Barbatuques with the participation of Stênio Mendes and the Body Orchestra.

A photo exhibition is also taking part of the programmation for the IBMF in São Paulo, where people will be able to appreciate the photographs of “Mike Melnyk”, American photographer who registered the first two editions of the IBMF.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Terry, Keith. "Body Music". World Arts West. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  2. ^ Locklear, Scott (May 2006). "Body Percussion" (PDF). Drum!: 69–72. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 

Print sources[edit]

DIETRICH WOEHRLIN: "Rhythmic & Body Percussion". Book/CD, Coda Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3940161-17-8

ROMERO NARANJO, Francisco Javier: "Science & art of body percussion: a review". Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 8(2). June 2013. ISSN 1988-5202

ROMERO NARANJO, Francisco Javier: “Percusión corporal en diferentes culturas”. (Body percussion in different cultures) Música y Educación: Revista trimestral de pedagogía musical. Año XXI, 4 – Núm. 76 - Diciembre 2008. SPAIN, Madrid, pp. 46 – 97. ISSN: 0214-4786. [1]

ROMERO NARANJO, Francisco Javier: “Body music! Body percussion! Didáctica de la percusión corporal“. Música y educación: Revista trimestral de pedagogía musical, Año nº 19, Nº 68, 2006, SPAIN, Madrid, pp. 49–88. ISSN 0214-4786. [2]

ROMERO NARANJO, Francisco Javier: "Bodymusic-Bodypercussion. Ritmos de rock, funky, reage y samba con percusión corporal y su aplicación didáctica". Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia. Instituto Superior de Formación y Recursos en Red para el profesorado. SPAIN, Madrid, pp. 121 – 138. ISBN 978-84-369-4571-3.

ROMERO NARANJO, Francisco Javier: "Percusión Corporal e Inteligencias múltiples". (Body percussion and Multiple Intelligences) VII Jornades de Música. Universidad de Barcelona. Generalitat de Catalunya. Departament d'Educació, 2008. SPAIN, Barcelona, pp. 21 – 38. ISBN 978-84-96907-04-1.

ROMERO NARANJO, Francisco Javier: “Bodymusic – Bodypercussion. Propuestas didácticas sobre psicomotricidad rítmica”. Música y Educación: Revista trimestral de pedagogía musical. Año XVII, 4 – Núm. 60 - Diciembre 2004. SPAIN, Madrid, 2004. ISSN: 0214-4786. [3]

ROMERO NARANJO, Francisco Javier: „Propuestas didácticas en base a los sistemas Bodypercussion y TA KE TI NA“. Música y Educación: Revista trimestral de pedagogía musical. Año XIV, 3 – Núm. 47 – Octubre 2001. SPAIN, Madrid. pp. 37 – 50. ISSN: 0214-4786. [4]

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