What I love about beatbox or vocal percussion on a whole is what it taught me: the ability to comprehend and appreciate any piece of music track or song. Also, the best thing about it is that I can practice or perform it anytime, anywhere, in any condition, event, mood, or vibe. The learning process is difficult and it takes time to adapt for a lay-man, but if you really let go of yourself and indulge in the sub-conscious, it is enhancing, fruitful, and really fun to listen to or vibe on.
My name is Prashant Wakchaure, I am 23 years old, and I’m currently pursuing an MS in Computer Science degree at University College Dublin (UCD). Prior to this, I worked as a Freelance Software Developer for a year. I completed my Bachelors in Computer Engineering in 2019 from Pune, India, and started working on the freelance project along with the notion of pursuing an MS in Computer Science from Ireland’s No. 1 university.
I became the most engaged with software development during my undergrad engineering days. I later unravelled that I have a much bigger and more intellectual interest in Machine Learning and its subsidiaries. The idea about the Supervised and Unsupervised algorithms along with the other Deep Learning and Reinforcement learning techniques made me delve deeper into the subject and finally wish to pursue a long-term career in the same area.
I’m currently staying in North Dublin. I had already made up my mind in 2018 to pursue further education in Computer Science – in 2019, I applied to the prestigious University College Dublin. I even got admits from many famous United States Universities, but as soon as I got the admission email from UCD, Ireland, I dropped all the other alternatives and decided to book my seat at UCD, and I started preparing for the same and reached Dublin on 28th August 2020. Having lived with my parents right from childhood until now, it was difficult to leave it all behind; but on the other hand, I was excited and finally had the chance to grab it all. With global restrictions and lockdowns last year, travelling away from my hometown was one of the most difficult decisions I made. Sheer determination, passion, and the will to do something different which will set you apart from the crowd – all these encouraged me to make nail-biting decisions throughout my journey.
Apart from my strong technical suite, I have a wide involvement in multiple art forms ranging from dance to music (beatbox and vocal percussion). I’m a self-learned dancer and I started this journey when I was 10 years old. I’ve covered a negligible, but ecstatic journey, full of wisdom and enthusiasm in every essence of it. This led to another diverse form of art – ‘beatbox’, which I had a vague idea about as everyone else has, but I technically started learning it in 2019, which escalated quite quickly – the reason for which is my previous experience in the hip-hop dance art form. Other motivations were the amazing YouTube tutorials which made the basics of beatbox quite intuitive to understand. As of now, I can produce nearly 30-35 sounds effortlessly just by the medium of my mouth.
The first time I became interested in beatbox was after watching a famous Bollywood movie that consisted of underground hip-hop, specifically the “rap” scene in India. After which, I contacted the beatboxers of the movie virtually via Instagram and told them that I started beatboxing after watching them. But little did I know that I would get so immersed in this art form because of some unbelievable majestic things about music and what we actually hear out of it!
Beatboxers can imitate a drum set – the hi-hats, snares, kick drums, rim shots, triplets, odd-time, and so on, along with other percussive instruments like trumpets, saxophone, flutes, and table. Even though I love to beatbox to any hip-hop beat, or I can easily give a beat to any rapper or singer, so hip-hop it is! But I also discovered various other songs, harmonies, and melodies due to my open approach towards multiple genres of music. I love to vibe on Blues, Souls, Jazz, Reggae, Metal, House, Alternative Rock, and many more diverse genres in music. I can easily imitate any song’s beat, because of the technical theory behind the time in music along with every instrument’s rhythm and tempo. I like to appreciate each and every genre that exists, and I try to find a way or some musical factor in it to love it.
One other thing which vocal percussion taught me was the concept of time in music. I got introduced to general time signatures, as well as the odd-time and irrational time signatures. I can easily decipher the general 4/4 or multiples of 3 like ¾,6/8,9/8,12/8,15/16, etc. I can even beatbox in these time signatures. Because of vocal percussion, I started practicing my beatbox with the help of a metronome, which is like a repeated interval meter sound to keep track of the rhythm and tempo. It really allowed me to feel the music, groove to it, and eventually dance in a particular way to satiate my self-consciousness without any prejudice from others.
One of my favourite experiences began when I found my father’s harmonica and started beatboxing with it. I have carried this harmonica with me to Dublin, and I have created a few audiences here too! So, I got acquainted with one more talent, which is harmonica beatbox. In beatbox, you also get to have control over your breath – the same is with the harmonica, so they go perfectly in sync where the bass is overpowered by beatbox and the treble and musical notes are controlled by the harmonica. One thing which I’m aware of, and will be always grateful for, are the complex sounds or intermediate beatbox patterns which I learned by practising certain sounds for more than 3 months to get them sharp and in tempo.
All in all, my journey with Beatbox has just started, and there are yet many more things to learn. I want to make it a medium or vehicle for meditation and self-contentment.
Looking at my other experiences, I have been dancing for more than 13 years. Dance hit me like a blessing in disguise, and I’m grateful to have the capability to move in a certain way like no one can. Everyone’s style is different – rather than framing it in a particular dance style, one should focus on what he/she can perform on a particular song. During my journey until now, I have won several inter-college dance competitions and talent hunts, and performed at various events back in Pune, India.
When I was growing up and when I was at my learning phase in Dance, I was inspired by many mainstream artists, as well as the most underrated but mind-blowing dancers. I started dancing by copying Michael Jackson – MJ’s Dangerous was one of my first learnt choreographies. Subsequently, I found out about other gems of dancers from India itself; I have learned a lot from them. Years later, I came across a perception that you cannot imitate anyone in dancing, and that’s why I stopped focusing on the choreography elements and starting paying attention to myself and what I’m listening to. I got into the habit of catching the groove or moving to a song in a particular way, sometimes in accordance with the instruments or sometimes the lyrics.
Initially, I started with the fundamentals of hip-hop, then I subsequently learned other styles such as Popping, Locking, Tutting, Krumping, Animations, Robotics, etc. I enjoyed my time performing, practicing, and working hard in learning all these styles. But eventually, I started letting my body loose and moved in a way that I felt was appropriate. Basically, I started a new journey altogether and now I’m in a competition with myself rather than competing or imitating anyone. So, people may call it freestyle – an ambiguous term coined when you combine multiple forms and present it on a song in a holistic way that engages the audience. But what I do is pan-style; each interval of performance consists of various styles of dancing.
Dance is something that identifies me and sets me apart from others. Dance has given me this ability to move in a rather ecstatic way where I’m not satisfying the audience, but I’m indeed self-satiated and I wish to portray it in a way where my performance will then connect with the audience. I’ve been famous in various inter-college events and in my undergrad college (and also in my high school as a Dancer), so it has its perks. But it is the best learning one could ever get. The most vital thing which I love about Dance is that I get to connect with myself and just groove to the song, wherein I’m practicing mindfulness and actually enjoying my time there as a performer or as an artist.
The most memorable time which I remember in this artistic journey is when I won my first award at an inter-college dance competition. I qualified for the final round among 42 other talents and won the final battle against the 4 other finalists. I’ve mostly performed as a solo dancer, since I try to improvise my choreography in a variation where I can get back to the next piece of the choreography. I also tried beatboxing and dancing together, which is dance-box; it is tiresome, but you are basically creating music from within and grooving to it simultaneously.
My future goal with Dance is simply to keep moving like I always do and keep improving and evolving until my last breath.
Dancing and music have both definitely been a benefit to my technological career. The creativity which I have always implemented and learned from these artistic talents is always helpful to me in some or the other way in technology and academia. Also, because of the savvy technicality of vocal percussion, I tend to think more analytically and in a rather smart way to tackle any programming problem or any practical assignment problem in computer science. Also, my soft skills are reflexively improved without even working on them, because I’ve always been a stage performer. Because of dance and music, I’m easily approachable, which is very important in the corporate world and also with working with your co-workers in a company. In crux, the creativity and openness because of these arts endow me to excel in my current professional life too. In the long term, I wish to design and program a software application which will be a digital audio workstation(daw), but it will consist of some vocal percussion elements along with a launchpad with the beatbox patterns and sounds which I’ll produce and deploy on the software. In this way, I can use my computer technology and programming knowledge to create an amalgamation of all my artistic talents and present it to the world.
My advice to anyone interested in Dancing is that there are many mentors to guide you on that path (I know some!). But, when it comes to Beatbox, or particularly Vocal Percussion, you are on your own, because the community is not that big and many of the people are still unaware of what it is exactly. However, due to media and movies, more people are actually witnessing this art form while appreciating and loving it, which is a great plus factor in the coming years for all the vocal percussionists. One more thing to take into consideration if you are a vocal percussionist is that you are nearly 1 in a million, since there are not more beatboxers you know of, so you have a large pool of audience to engage and attract towards you, which you can swiftly do. My point being, you cannot shy away from any art you pursue, even if you decide to not do it professionally for your bread-and-butter, but you should not take it for granted, and always do it for self-contentment or expressing rather than attracting or impressing. For dancers, on the other hand, there are various platforms, and we all know that reality shows are booming! But vocal percussion has an obviously bright future. One final piece of advice to all of the emerging beatboxers (and even the ones involved in playing any kind of instrument) is to practice on the Metronome!
There is always more than tech. Creativity leads to innovation and unimaginable creation. If everyone shares and collaborates their talent, passion, and ideas with others, then work will be a fun place, and the routine work will be a divination in disguise of passion and profession. Hence, I feel there is way more than tech or any 9-5 work in the corporate world. Everyone needs to find an equilibrium between their artistic talents, passions, and their profession. If similar creative talents or passionate people collaborate in a workspace, they can then bring the same vibe in their professional work too, and results would be only fruitful.
Be sure to also follow Prashant on his Instagram page for lots of new Beatbox and Dance content: https://www.instagram.com/prashant_w_bbx/.