Voice Percussion

The art of Konnakol

Nowadays many are familiar with beatboxing from hip hop and rapping, but as the first inspiration of using voice as percussion, I want to highlight Konnakol, the art of vocal percussion from the South Indian classical Carnatic music. It refers to vocally performing percussion syllables while simultaneously counting the tala (meter) with the hand, and in itself can be exquisite peace of musical performance. The first video I want to present is a beautiful duet performed by Vidwan B R Somashekar Jois and Kumari V Shivapriya.

Vidwan B R Somashekar Jois and Kumari V Shivapriya are reciting few rhythmic phrases set to Mishrachaapu Tala followed by a special Mohara-Korvai composed by Vidwan B C Manjunath.

Konnakol is often part of a larger musical performance. Recently it is heard integrated in music compositions other than traditional carnatic music as well. For an in-depth study of the history of Konnakol see a MA thesis KONNAKOL The History and Development of Solkattu – the Vocal Syllables – of the Mridangam by Lisa Young, kindly shared on the website of the singer.

Do you know any comparable voice percussion traditions from other styles of music, or cultures?

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