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Watch Butterscotch Explain the 13 Levels of Beatboxing

There’s a competition for just about everything these days, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a World Beatbox Champion out there. The 2005 champ—the first female champion—was Butterscotch, and her skills are pretty amazing. Butterscotch lends those skills for instruction in a video from Wired, offering 13 levels of beatboxing from easy to complex. Watch this video, and you’ll be taking your first step toward the World Beatbox Championships.

butterscotch beatboxing

“Beatboxing is the art of vocal percussion,” explains Butterscotch. “Every sound you make is only using your mouth. It’s one of the most unique things you can do because everyone is different. So we’re all going to have some sort of different style that we add.” In the video, Butterscotch outlines the skills any good beatboxer should have, starting with the bass drum. As she goes through the different levels of complexity, Butterscotch adds in layers of vocal drums and instruments and even going so far as to add in real, live instruments as well. Since then, beatboxing has continued to capture the attention of people around the world.

Beatboxing has been a part of many musical genres since the 19th century, where it can be found in early rural music, religious songs, blues, ragtime, vaudeville, and hokum. From African folk music to modern performers like Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson use beatboxing for different songs. Beatboxing is probably best recognized, however, from hip-hop and rap. In the 1980s, pioneers of “human beatboxing” like Doug E. Fresh, Buffy, and Wise helped bring beatboxing to the forefront of music.

“I love beatboxing because it’s completely unique,” says Butterscotch. “You’re able to do so much just with your own body. There are all sorts of levels and intricacies of what makes beatboxing multidimensional—it’s portable, it’s fun, and it’s pretty damn special.”