Grupo de Estudos de Música Corporal (Percussão, Voz e Movimento)
By Pedro Consorte.
With the body, we can produce many types of sounds (voluntary, involuntary, intense, subtle, bass, middle, treble, etc.) and, if you start listing the different sounds that are part of our daily lives, as well as voice used in speech, we also remember others: snores, claps, whistles, finger clicks, breaths, sneezes, hiccups, burps, etc..
When talking about the sounds of the body, generally, we have no notion of the infinite variety of sounds that the body is capable of producing. Thinking of them may even be funny because, in common sense, when we speak of body sounds, we can think of “inappropriate” or sounds that give rise to jokes. This happens at little development of our reflection on this sonic potential of the body, including why some sounds are so embedded that it’s difficult to identify them.
Stop to think: how many types of sound does your body produce? As we reflect, we remember, gradually, many of which we already produce without noticing.
Besides the sounds that we do not even realize we produce, there are also those which we did realize one day, usually as children, but now as adults we no longer use them anymore. What seems to happen during our growth is that we are more encouraged to use certain sounds and discouraged from using others. This happens because not only sounds are considered culturally appropriate and inappropriate, but also because it is stipulated by our culture to use certain sounds as standard in sound communication, for example the voice in speech (verbal communication).
If we think about the evolution of living beings, it would be essential for any kind in their survival process, developing their capacity to adapt to the environment. In this process, living beings end up exploring and discovering the resources that ensure their development, for example, the sound.
The use of sound as a tool for communication between individuals of species will help ensuring, among other things, communication and organization. Thinking about it, we can assume that the origins of body sounds exploration is connected to the very origins of human development as a social being.
In the last ten years, more attention came to this kind of look on practices that use the body sounds, and many studies have also explored the different goals and purposes of each use. There are endless possibilities and utilities when exploring this subject so rich, and body percussion in particular has been showing itself as a very versatile universe.
It is difficult to say that body percussion is a new practice, probably because it has been developed since our origins, but what is new here is the way we look to the exploration of body sounds. “Body Percussion” if we check in the dictionary it only means the practice of striking the body, but this expression has been used not only in reference to striking part of the body, but also in reference to the techniques which do that and organize the sounds within a musical structure.
The body percussion is a resource that can be used in many directions and, nowadays, there are records of the practice being developed in the fields of music, education, mathematics, health, communication, corporate training, social work and others. In general, practices that use this universe are very successful when the goal is to relax, to develop communication skills, to release stress, to stimulate creativity, etc..
Health and wellness
When it comes to health and wellness, there are a number of professionals who work with body percussion and redirect this practice to their specific areas. In some environments, we may even find body percussion techniques being developed without any interest in sound. Especially in certain massage techniques, body percussion is used only for the purpose of relaxing the body through the resonance caused by vibration of percussion.
In cases of interest in the musicality of the practice, body percussion also provides a number of resources that can be used to create therapeutic environments. In music therapy, for example, the practice of body percussion has great utility and efficiency, because it is a practice that potentially involves and stimulates the body and sound elements, being able to work the relationship between individuals and their communication.
When used as a therapeutic tool, body percussion doesn’t need to be only in the music therapy universe, as it’s not restricted to just only this type of therapeutic field. The activities that work exploring the body sounds and body percussion already have, as a potential, aspects (playfulness, creativity, communicativity, musicality and etc, being very helpful in creating a therapeutic atmosphere in many other environments.
Culture and art
The percussion, in general, is a kind of practice already associated with popular/folk culture activities, and body percussion follows the same logic. In many cultures, we can see the presence of this practice as a music resource, and in activities of popular culture, where dancing and music are almost always working together, we can find various types of body percussion. In each place, it is developed into a certain style and, as we analyze its type and level of technical complexity, we managed to identify dialogues with their cultural context.
In some cases, there were complementary or related expressions to “body percussion”, as “body music”, “percussive dance”, “organic music”, “vocal dance” and others, which refer to this universe, where the sounds of the body work as musical, theatrical and artistic tool. Most importantly perhaps is not worrying about the delimitation of these languages, but heed the wealth of each artistic experience.
To watch some videos of artistic groups using Body Percussion, check the article: