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Oakland, California, United States | SELF

Oakland, California, United States | SELF
Band World A Capella


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"The First International Body Music Festival Hits San Francisco/Oakland, December 2-7 2008"

Published: 2008-11-20

Hambone. Gumboot. Palmas. Kecak. From the tundra to the tropics, people can’t resist the urge to snap, clap, step, slap, holler, and sing artful music. This universal resonator—our bodies—and its myriad global sounds will ignite audiences at the First International Body Music Festival in San Francisco and Oakland (December 2-7, 2008), featuring body musicians performing traditional and contemporary pieces from the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, Canada’s Arctic, and other popping, stomping, humming corners of the world. Ticket information is available at Along with presenting world-premiere pieces and USA debuts, the Festival will reach out to educators and young people via workshops; to families with a kid-friendly matinee; and to aspiring body musicians with what might just be the world’s first body music open mic.

Body music pioneer and Festival director Keith Terry’s vision of a global musical shindig goes beyond trading rhythms or belly-slap techniques. It’s about a cross-cultural conversation touching that visceral place that only the world’s oldest instrument can reach, as Terry was reminded recently while directing a workshop. “I was teaching a rhythm that involved touching the chest and then snapping, stepping, and singing. I wasn't looking at the class; I was just listening," says the 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, the first to earn such an award in body music. “It was beautiful so I let it go on for a while and when I turned around I saw most of the room in tears. There was something about the act of touching the chest that moved everyone. It was about the heart.”

Until recently, body music’s global adventure in deep connections and corporeal rhythm was unfolding independently across the globe, its pop culture presence ebbing and waning as interest in hambone or Stomp came and went. Then came YouTube.

Terry was surfing for body music videos on the Internet when he came across the eye-opening work of a São Paulo ensemble called Barbatuques. “We were on parallel paths, but with obviously different end results,” Terry explains. Eager to find out more, Terry got in touch with director Fernando Barba, one of Brazil’s body music trailblazers, only to discover that Barba had just been planning to shoot Terry an email himself. This “blind connection,” as Terry calls it, was the beginning of a great online friendship.

Barba and Terry’s virtual connection lies at the heart of the Festival, in the form of a long-awaited, world-debut collaboration between the two body musicians’ groups—Slammin All Body Band and Barbatuques. Oakland-based Slammin brings together globally inspired beatboxing and Terry’s masterful, graceful body music with four soul-stirring vocalists. Barbatuques has been developing their unique “circle orchestra” of twelve musicians who rock out stunning versions of samba and maracatu classics by moving and vocalizing. Rather than focusing on body rhythms or vocals, the two groups use both. Although the two are from radically different cultural perspectives, they both emphasize groove and there are unexplainable parallels in the ways that they transpose instrumental music onto their bodies.

Yet the ties that bind body musicians are about more than psychic connections, streaming video, and stomping choruses. Many body musicians first fall in love with their instrument through childlike play, in lighthearted contexts. Barbatuques’ Barba first discovered that his body was “a toy with sound” as a teenager: “When I walked, I daydreamed, imagining melodies and putting rhythm to my steps. Without noticing, the hands followed, looking for a drumming sound, mixing sounds on my chest, hands, and snapping. It was a new game,” Barba recalls. In the same spirit, Terry’s body music was influenced by his work as the co-founder and drummer for the Jazz Tap Ensemble and sound effects guy for the Pickle Family Circus.

Musical exchange, the Festival’s bread and butter, helps unlock a whole range of human perspectives that Terry feels are often overlooked. “Rhythm and body movement across cultures reveal not only a sonic diversity but a breadth of world views, allowing us all to break out of our everyday perspectives, to understand each other at a more meaningful level,” says Terry. “If I listen carefully and find your timing, your rhythm, it accelerates our relationship. When you walk in step with someone, you breathe together. And the conversation can go much deeper.”

The language of body music varies from culture to culture, but the core impulse is rooted in a deep artistic expression through the human body. Moroccans have their own way of clapping, producing pops with fingers spread. Sumatrans slap their bellies just so, in a way unheard elsewhere. In the crevices and curves of human existence, in the resonating chambers of the human body and soul, discoveries are made and brought to aural and visual awareness for audiences and celebrants worldwide.

In Balinese kecak, the interlocking monkey chant associated with the epic Ramayana (and as popularized in the film Baraka), a large ensemble of vocalists resounds with the same rhythmic complexity heard on the gamelan. Body Tjak, a collaborative project Terry has been co-directing for twenty years, weaves body music and kecak into a seamless blend of movement and sound. The Kecak Project, the joint effort of extraordinary young Balinese composer Dewa Putu Barata and two Oakland-based gamelan ensembles, Gamelan Sekar Jaya and Gamelan X, will create a new kecak piece specifically for the Festival.

A very different conversation unfolds in the work of Turkish body musicians KeKea. The duo, with backgrounds in theater and folk music, transform Turkish traditional songs into gentle pieces for the body with a flowing subtlety—an elegant departure from the athletic prowess sometimes associated with body music.

In a more traditional tête-à-tête, Celina Kalluk and partner sing Inuit vocal games from Canada’s arctic territory of Nunavut. To play, two partners sing into each other’s mouths, only a few inches apart, and interweave breath and voice until one of them gets tripped up or hyperventilates. The sound simultaneously evokes ancient history and futuristic sonics of electronic music. Terry recalls the first time he heard Inuit throat games live, “Every tune would end in laughter, because of the hyperventilation. The audience would anticipate the end, and then the entire room would break into laughter. It was contagious. It’s such a playful form.”

One local tradition highlighted at the festival and stretching far into the African-American past is hambone, which uses high-speed slaps to the thighs and chest as its musical palette. Perfected on the plantation when drums were prohibited, and later performed in vaudeville, hambone hit the airwaves and the white mainstream in the 1950s, with the Hambone Kids’ hit “Hambone Hambone.” Sam McGrier is one of those original Hambone Kids, and one of the few older artists still performing. Sam has been invited to perform with Derique McGee, whose youthful fascination with hambone has helped to keep this lightning-fast African-American tradition alive and clapping. Derique is an accomplished clown, proving that the serious art of Body Music can be hilariously joyful. Festival goers will have the unprecedented privilege of seeing these two hambone greats of different generations performing together.

On the experimental side, Montreal-based percussive dancer Sandy Silva blends the hard-hitting passion of Celtic step-dancing and flamenco with modern dance techniques, for a solo performance that blurs the boundary between body percussion and movement. Her musical versatility has taken her from jazz festival stages playing with Bobby McFerrin to “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Beyond the compelling history, musical variety, and physical artistry of body music, “It’s really about being human. It’s a very visceral connection with all these different people. We’re all playing our bodies,” Terry reflects. “I’m excited about all these styles going on around the world, and I’d like more people to see them and enjoy them. It’s a reminder of our humanity on a very basic level.” - All About Jazz

"The Body Code"

November 26, 2008

The Body Code
By Rachel Swan

Thirty years ago Keith Terry had the light bulb moment that would make him an icon in the Bay Area music scene. He was playing drums for Jazz Tap Ensemble when he suddenly became keenly aware of the way his own body reverberated. Terry realized that any sound he could make with sticks and a trap set could also be achieved by slapping his body. By clapping the soft part of his palms, he'd imitate the sound of mallets hitting a snare. He'd get a dry echo by rattling the bones of his chest, or thwapping the spongy part of his cheeks. He'd grind his knuckles to get the sound of something being scraped clean. He'd tap the soles of his shoes. He became, in Cook and Coles' assessment, a human hambone.

"It was a dance that had its own inherent soundtrack, which I really love," Terry said in a recent phone interview. Over three decades he's compiled a vast repertoire of stage routines and served as a one-man rhythm section for various groups, most notably the a cappella sextet Slammin' All-Body Band (which also features a beatboxer). He's created a surprisingly complex sound palette and given body percussion a sense of technical rigor. Last April Terry received a Guggenheim Fellowship, which helped him launch a project he'd dreamt about for years: an international body music festival.

Probably the first of its kind — and definitely a change of pace for Oakland nightclubs — the body music festival will feature a sampling of world groups that Terry might never have known about, had it not been for the miracle of YouTube. Among them are Turkish duo KekeCa, which bases its material on folk rhythms that often occur in odd meters (try 13 or 17); two Inuit throat singers; and the Brazilian ensemble Barbatuques, whose members whose orchestrated body slaps as their only instrumentation. Judging from Terry's descriptions they seem like a strange bunch, particularly the throat singers, who apparently sing into each other's mouths. Balinese composer Dewa Putu Barata will round off the bill with a specially commissioned kecak piece, which features vocalists intoning Gamelan rhythms. The event kicks off December 2 with a spate of teacher training workshops, at which Terry and friends will demonstrate their new "codified" language of body movements (wherein they use claps and shuffles to impart rudimentary facts of geometry or language arts). Other highlights include an open mic at Oakland's Club Anton (Dec. 3), a lecture at the Oakland Museum of California (Dec. 4), and subsequent performances at San Francisco's Theatre Artaud. For a full schedule, visit - East Bay Express

"Body Music"

NOVEMBER 26, 2009

Performers from around the globe will gather in the Bay area next week for the 2nd International Body Music Festival. Keith Terry is the founder and director of the festival. He recently visited our studios to perform and chat with anchor Marco Werman.

MARCO WERMAN: I’m Marco Werman. This is The World. The International Body Music Festival kicks off next week in Northern California. The sounds are all made with nothing more than what you’re born with and the music is 100% organic. Keith Terry is with me in the studio here at WGBH. He’s a founder and director of the International Body Music Festival and Keith, I’ve got to say, if you had already eaten your Thanksgiving meal, I wouldn’t want you to start smacking your body around but I’m going to have you illustrate anyway what it’s about in a moment, digestion be damned. Keith, welcome and tell us first a bit about the International Body Music Festival. It’s the second time the festival’s taking place in the Bay Area. What’s it all about?

KEITH TERRY: Yeah, this is the second year, we started last year and it’s a six day festival. It takes place throughout the Bay Area, Oakland, Berkley, San Francisco. We do a combination of performances and workshops and open [PH] mic, a lectured demonstration. It’s kind of all activities, a party every night. It’s really a nice hang.

WERMAN: And so international body music. I mean presumably, this is something that people all over the world actually partake in. They have the same kind of motivation to make sounds, not using any instruments except their body, right?

TERRY: That’s right. We find both traditional, you know culture specific, traditional body music all over the world and more and more contemporary styles that mix a lot of cultural and rhythmic ingredients. It’s probably the oldest music, you know before we were making instruments, we were probably playing our bodies and using our voices to express those musical ideas.

WERMAN: So give us a demonstration of body music as you know it and then we’ll kind of get you to give us a little tour around the world, body music-wise.

TERRY: Okay, alright so this is a style that I’ve been working on for like thirty years. So it’s a contemporary style, it’s not a traditional style but I just kind of play around a little bit here.

WERMAN: So what we’ve got going on here because listeners aren’t here in the studio but I’ll describe it, you’ve got a piece of plywood, about an inch thick that you’re stomping on and you’ve got kind of tap dance shoes on, is that right?

TERRY: Well, they’re actually, they’re just leather-soled shoes, there are no taps on them. But they’re hard leather-soled shoes.

WERMAN: But they’re thin soled and you’re really feeling the floor and then there are the hand claps of course and you’re hitting other parts of your body. Are there parts of your body that make slightly different noises than other parts? I mean do you know where your kind of like cavities are?

TERRY: Sure, I mean they’re subtle. I mean basically you know, you’re playing the equivalent of a cardboard box or something. There are subtle differences between like the chest and the belly, where you can get these slaps. In some parts of the world they really get these high slaps like in Sumatra, they get this really nice thing. And then you’ve got you know, the back side, the butt. You’ve got a brush on the hip and then you know, thighs and you know, so it kind of moves around. Visually it moves around and also sonically it has subtlety.

WERMAN: And the idea of the International Body Music Festival, I mean one could say is that people don’t just speak this universal language of music, but they also you know, speak it using a universal instrument, our bodies so give us a little tour around the globe. Maybe you can illustrate what’s going on in Bali and then show us some stuff around the Mediterranean, kind of Spanish flamenco palmas which is the hand clapping and maybe some of the interlocking clapping from the Middle East.

TERRY: Sure, well in Bali, Indonesia they have a [SOUNDS LIKE] Katchok which is interlocking vocal percussion and these are done by men in the past but more and more women’s groups are popping up. These are concentric circles of performers and the group may vary from anywhere from like 20 performers to a thousand. I mean sometimes it’s really a spectacle. And they often use this syllable, [SOUNDS LIKE] cha-cha-cha-cha and it’s just a beautiful kind of whirlwind, it’s like a vortex of how these parts lock in together and it’s very fast.

WERMAN: So they vocalize but it’s kind of a percussive vocalization.

TERRY: Very percussive and this can go on for you know, 45 minutes, an hour. I mean it takes quite a lot of endurance and just great concentration.

WERMAN: Alright, give us a taste.


WERMAN: So there’s actually very little smacking of the body with Katchok.

TERRY: Exactly. It’s really a local percussion. There is some, there are choreographed moves where people’s arms are kind of you know moving together and hands are splayed and shaking, it’s kind of a shimmering look with all these hands. I mean you can imagine, you know, you get 200, 300 people in very tight concentric circles. It has a strong visual impact as well.

WERMAN: And to contrast that in Spain and in the Middle East, hand claps are pretty common and especially in flamenco and you know, the antecedents to flamenco in the Middle East.

TERRY: Exactly, exactly. Well all throughout Northern Africa, Tunisia and Morocco, all the way into the Persian Gulf, you hear this high popping sound. It sounds kind of like this. So you get those high overtones. I’ve got my hands really splayed, the fingers are almost rigid and it’s a very flat and when you clap, the fingers are aligned. It looks as, I mean if you look from the side you see one hand basically and the entire surfaces of your hand strike it once and it kind of captures that air in there to get that high popping sound.

WERMAN: Right.

TERRY: And you hear these interlocking clapping patterns throughout that region, that whole region.

WERMAN: And when you say interlocking you’re talking about many clappers kind of going through these patterns and then those patterns interlock [OVERLAPPING]

TERRY: Exactly. It’s like a, it’s a weaving of these rhythmic patterns, these polyrhythmic patterns.

WERMAN: And then make the connection between that and the flamenco palmas. Literally, the palm, right?

TERRY: Yeah, yeah. Apparently the Moors brought it from North America, the Middle East into north, into Spain. And we have palmas in flamenco music and dance and you hear that a lot. Palma, palm and you hear palma and contra-palma. So the palma is the downbeat and the contra-palma is the upbeat so you get this [SOUND], you get this sound a lot in the music and dance and that is created by two or more players, you know, kind of [SOUNDS LIKE] hocketing these pieces together.

WERMAN: So what happens when you get together people who take different approaches to body music? How many countries are represented at this?

TERRY: Well, let’s see. At last year’s festival we had a group from Brazil; we had then from Turkey, from the Arctic, from Bali, Indonesia, from France, Canada and the U.S.

WERMAN: So it’s going to be somewhat mirrored this year, right?

TERRY: Yeah, it’ll be similar this year. We have [SOUNDS LIKE] Apuve Zapateo which is footwork which is accompanied often by Cajone, the wooden boxes and guitars, but this time it’s being accompanied by vocal percussion. All the parts are created by the vocal.

WERMAN: Well Keith, it’s wonderful to talk with you. Maybe you can set up for us some body work to end the show with today. Something that’s really just impressed you recently.

TERRY: I think I’d like to play a piece from [SOUNDS LIKE] Baba Tukas which is a group from Sao Paolo, Brazil. They’re a 12 member group. They’ve been together for 10 years and they just have a beautiful style. I think you’ll enjoy it.

WERMAN: Keith Terry is the founder and director of the International Body Music Festival. The festival takes place in the San Francisco area next week. For more information on the festival and to see an exclusive web performance, just go to Keith Terry, thanks very much for coming in and happy Thanksgiving.

TERRY: Thank you, Marco.

WERMAN: The Brazilian group Barbatuques brings our Thanksgiving Day program to a close. From the Nan and Bill Harris Studios at WGBH in Boston, I’m Marco Werman. We’ll be back tomorrow with another spin of The World. - PRI's "The World"

"First International Body Music Festival"

December 5, 2008 - Keith Terry, the artistic director, talks about the festival now under way in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. For 30 years, Terry has traveled the world performing and promoting body music — percussive sounds and melodies made by rhythmic chanting, clapping, finger-snapping, foot-stomping and other body movements.

Dewa Putu Berata and Keith Terry demonstrate kecak, a traditional Balinese chant. Also known as the monkey chant, kecak is usually performed by a large ensemble of men. It's a complex mix of interlocking vocal patterns, including animal-like sounds and melodies. - National Public Radio Music (NPR)

"Clap, Slap, Stomp and Shuffle"


'I Love a Piano," wrote Irving Berlin, and who could blame him? Without that wondrous instrument—and other technological marvels that populate the musical world today—our cultural landscape would be much bleaker. But modernity exacts a price: It loosens our connections to the simple, natural conditions in which musical expression first arose.

There are societies still rooted to those origins. In Africa, as writer Kofi Agawu has noted, whole symphonies emerge from the commonplace rhythms of life—the sounds of chopping, grinding and pounding food, for example, or the fetching of water. Through these daily communal efforts, villages collectively sing music into existence.

Even in the West, such low-tech music-making never completely disappeared, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors will be presenting a free concert on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Damrosch Park Bandshell featuring the "International Body Music Festival"—performers who clap, snap, slap, shuffle, stomp and vocalize their way to musical heights. Billed as "music you can see, dance you can hear," the program will include Keith Terry's Slammin All-Body Band from Oakland, Calif.; Brazil's "circle orchestra," Barbatuques; Inuit throat singers Celina Kalluk and Lucie Idlout; and African-American hambone artist Derique McGee.

Mr. Terry, artistic director of the event, began his career as a percussionist. "In 1978-79 I was playing drums," he recalled, "often with tap dancers—a generation that has mostly passed on now. And I realized I could displace everything I was doing on the drums to my body. So I began to map it out, to create a system. Two great dancers—Charles 'Honi' Coles and Charles 'Cookie' Cook—took me aside and said, 'You know, what you are doing is very similar to what is known in vaudeville as hambone.' But it moved differently, and had different rhythms."

It marked his opening to a wider world of music-making without instruments. "Once I started creating pieces," he said, "it became obvious that I had to find other body musicians." And so he created Crosspulse (, which has been discovering and presenting such artists—as well as offering workshops to the public—ever since.

Observing Mr. Terry and his colleagues in action is like visiting an anatomical carnival where hands, fingers, feet, bellies, rumps and mouths engage in an endless musical ballet. But the concept is not new. Similar presentations have been an American tradition since the 19th century, when dancers and folk musicians often stunned audiences with virtuosic rhythmic displays.

Charles Dickens saw one of the most famous practitioners, a man known as Juba, during an 1842 visit to New York, and described him this way: "Single shuffle, double shuffle, cut and cross-out, snapping his fingers, rolling his eyes, turning in his knees, presenting the backs of his legs in front… Dancing with two left legs, two right legs, two wooden legs, two wire legs, two spring legs—all sorts of legs and no legs."

Naturally, even within the genre, performance styles vary, depending on cultural origins—something that should be apparent on Thursday, when the featured artists will cover a broad geographic swath. One might expect flamboyance from the Brazilians, for instance, and raw intimacy from the Inuit throat singers, who, Mr. Terry says, stand so close they practically sing into each other's mouths. "The individual culture really does shine through," he said.

Cultural dynamics also affect audience reactions. "I've presented this music as a soloist and with groups all over the world, including Europe, Indonesia, Japan, China, Brazil and Costa Rica," Mr. Terry said. "There's a certain rhythm to audiences, and you can feel the differences. The first time I performed in Indonesia, there was some humor in the piece, and the reaction was so explosive it scared me."

According to Bill Bragin, director of Lincoln Center Out of Doors, that diversity of perspectives embodies the very purpose of the series. "This is our 40th anniversary season," he explained. "It started as a community street-theater festival. We present music of all types—from jazz, roots music, punk and Latin to marching bands—along with other arts, like dance. All the concerts are free. We look at New York as an international city and we want to reflect that, while delivering a consistent level of excellence."

Indeed, the International Body Music Festival is just one of the events this summer to showcase what Mr. Bragin calls "cultural hybridity." "In Keith's work," he said, "cultural specificity is important, but at the same time there is throughout the program a sense of commonality. He's drawing from many rich traditions, while creating an evening that everyone can enjoy."

—Mr. Isacoff is on the faculty of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music (SUNY) - The Wall Street Journal

"The Body’s Irresistible Beat - National Geographic Music Checks Out The 4th International Body Music Festival"

NOVEMBER 15, 2011
The Body’s Irresistible Beat
Nat Geo Music Checks Out The 4th International Body Music Festival
by Catalina Maria Johnson

Backstage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, a richly textured tapestry of sounds emanates from the labyrinth of corridors as performers practice for the upcoming concert. However, they aren't tuning guitars or cellos. In beautifully choreographed moves, they produce equally lovely sounds, stomping, humming, clapping, swaying, chanting. Their instruments are their bodies - they are artists from around the world preparing to perform in the International Body Music Festival. The festival, which took place November 1-6, alternates yearly between San Francisco and an international location. In 2010, it was held in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and next year the festival goes to Istanbul, Turkey.
The Choreography of Sound
Keith Terry, founder of the Festival and a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, prefers to term the art "body music" rather than "body drumming" or "body percussion", as the art involves elements of melody and harmony as well as rhythm. Some artists, including Terry, initially approached body music from a background in percussion and drumming. Others come at it from a percussive dance form, such as tap dancing or flamenco, As to vocals, they take on differing degrees of importance depending on the artist. Terry's own performances over the weekend sampled all of these ways of approaching the art. When performing solo - truly a master body musician at work - he created delicately nuanced, complex rhythmic patterns that emerged as his fingers, hands and limbs brushed, tapped and patted the body while his feet were also tapping and stomping. As the Slamming Rhythm Trio, Terry along with Bryan Dyer and Steve Hogan performed as a threesome as well as backing up the hip-hop of guest artist Rico Pavon from Puerto Rico. In this configuration, vocals as well as beatboxing shared the stage along with the body as a percussion instrument. Performing with SlamDance, a sextet that includes Dyer and Hogan as well as Evie Ladin, Namita Kapoor and Nuria Bowart, Terry explored the dance component more directly, layering sounds via synchronized movements that traversed the stage and truly incorporated the music.
Island Heartbeat
Another highlight of the festival's concerts were the performances of six members of the larger Balinese ensemble Çudamani. At times standing, other times seated, chanting in harmony and in percussive syllables to create rapid-fire, interlocking rhythmic patterns, Çudamani 's playful, high-energy gestures and soundscapes evoked their tropical island home. Dewa Berata, composer, arranger, musician and director of the troupe, explained that their piece is based on Keçak, ancient sacred trance music and dance that emerged in ceremonies when repeated by emperor's decree after successfully curing a village epidemic. Berata also gave examples of how their syllables imitate the sound of traditional Balinese gongs, and his hands fluttered and waved nearly cinematically as he represented wind, clouds, trees, animals. However, he affirmed emphatically that far beyond reflecting instruments and geography, the most important aspect of Keçak is how it manifests cultural tenets: "We always work together. In Bali, everything has partner. Demon, god, good, bad, woman, man, day, night. So, one person does one beat, the other does other beat. That's why we can play very fast, sharing rhythms as fast as a heartbeat."
Spirit of Resistance
Similarly to how the Balinese body music retells the story of overcoming trials and tribulations, other forms of the art bear witness to a spirit of resistance. San Diego-based artist Danny 'Slapjazz' Barber, who says, smiling, "I don't have rhythm, rhythm has me," is an imposing, elegant gentleman with a deep, soft voice. Barber swooped white-gloved hands in intricate forms as he slapped and tapped chest and thighs, sharing the centuries-old art of hambone. Barber described how hambone emerged in the 1700's in South Carolina after the Stono Insurrection, when rebelling slaves had multiplied in numbers by using drums to communicate with each other. Consequently forbidden to assemble or use any instruments, they developed rhythms on the body as a means of communication as well as a means of expression. Barber, who first experienced the art from a cousin, who had learned it from their grandfather, a share-cropper in South Carolina, states he is proud to be preserving an art of significance to African and African-American culture.
Stories of the Sea
Other performers used body music to tell a specific story. Cambuyón, a troupe based in the Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, takes its name from the "Come Buy On" signs on 19th century English ships moored in the port that hoped to entice commerce. Jep Meléndez, Cambuyón's principal dancer, described how Cambuyon's piece represents the concepts of the sea and rhythms as a means of sharing cultures among very different peoples in distant lands. The fragment of a longer piece they presented at the festival represents three characters on a ship traversing the Atlantic. Meléndez, whose background is in tap dancing, was accompanied by two other artists; Raul Cabrera, who added Cuban chants to the mix, and percussionist Néstor Busquets, who focused on body percussion. One of the most astounding parts of their performance was Meléndez spreading sand on the stage to glide and tap upon it using swishing, delicate soft-shoe sounds that simultaneously created beautiful visual patterns on the floor. Meléndez later described how sand dancing is a precursor to tap dancing, and like hambone, emerged in times when African slaves were prohibited from using instruments.
The Québécois art shared by Eric Beaudry was also born of lack of instruments, however, not due to oppression but rather the travails of immigration. Beaudry, who is also a member of the renowned De Temps Antan trio, sang seated, stomping out accompaniment to his vocals as well as on some pieces, along with dancer Sandy Silva's stunning moves. Beaudry explained that foot rhythms were introduced to Canada by fiddlers, as their instrument was the first and often one of few to make it across the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, a practice developed of placing fiddlers seated on tables, who would beat out rhythms with their feet to accompany square dancers. Beaudry's performance at the festival was austere and elegant; haunting vocals enhanced by the building and layering of rhythms created by the feet's lilting grooves.
Body Music Usul
KeKeÇa, a quintet from Turkey and next year's festival's hosts, presented pieces of striking visual as well as auditory impact. One could almost see the beats flowing from one musician to another, appearing to be caught mid-air. Founding member Tugay Basar described the philosophy that guides the quintet as one that gives vital importance to the pause of the body preparing to make a sound: "Even before the movement, you have to stop, balance, feel the movement coming, feel the sound that will be created at the end of it". KeKeÇa's sound has a quite distinct and unique texture, as some of their compositions, Basar explains, are based usul, rhythmic cycles of beats and pauses which are a fundamental element of Classic Ottoman music. Body music, indeed, is a part of musical learning - students learning Turkish music in the traditional system first memorize the composition and internalize its rhythmic structures by using their hands to strike knees while singing.
Cultures Revealed
One of the most intriguing aspects of body music is to see aspects of cultures revealed as artists play what is basically the same instrument in amazingly different ways. Fernando Barba, founder of the acclaimed Brazilian ensemble Barbatuques, explains how even a language's phonetic structures will affect an body musician's mode of expression, as there is a tendency to choose sounds and syllables familiar to one's native language. However, he adds, the choice to draw upon the familiar also includes gestures. Barba cites how his own repertoire includes a backward-swinging snap of the finger that is used in Brazil to indicate "some time ago" or a hard, fast slapping of thumb against palm with a quick flick of the wrist, that signifies "really fast!" Seeing participants repeat these gestures in the very well-attended workshop Barba taught, it was clear they were learning to speak Portuguese with their bodies.
The Body's Irresistible Beat
At the YBCA performances, when the artists invited audience participation, the public in the packed-to-full-capacity theater happily agreed to do so. Each artist shared fascinating viewpoints as to what makes the urge to tap, snap, stomp and hum along so irresistibly compelling. Barba considers that since there is no external instrument to mediate the musical experience,"You can find the value of your body and your self". Other artists commented on the carefree spirit that the art embodies, which evokes forgotten childhood pleasures in the exploration of sound and movement. At the heart of the art, says festival founder Terry, is a simplicity that is the antithesis of a technological society. Body music may also remind us of the past, he muses: " I believe some kind of genetic memory is triggered when we see it, some recognition of quite possibly how we first started to make music." Basar gently remarks that after all, "It is the only music where the instrument and the musician are one and the same."
Both weekend concerts culminated in all the artists performing together on stage, and then led by Terry, exiting to the YBCA lobby, where a good number of the audience joined in a spontaneous body music jam. People hailing from all corners of the world coordinated sounds and movements, and at least for a few moments, became one joyful body of humanity. - National Geographic

"Babatunde Lea"

"Some of the most exciting, spirit and soul grabbing music I've heard in a long time. Don't let me forget inspiring. SLAMMIN is the only group of this type that I feel actually works...big time!" They've transcended the cutesy, gimmicky, novelty type stuff other a cappella groups rely on." - drummer

"Tad Hendrickson"

"...a pleasant surprise from the get go...the sextet sets the tone for outside the box creativity...the group draws upon such disparate sources as Eddie Harris's 'Freedom Jazz Dance' (which is a true and improvised highlight recorded live), Toots and the Maytals' classic 'Pressure Drop' and Outkast's 'The Way You Move,' taking each in a wildly imaginative new direction due to the arrangement of ideas and the skill with which these are applied...Jazz folks will be drawn to the hip version of Miles Davis's 'All Blues' but there are plenty of other choices for creative listening and programming."
- JazzWeek

"Stefanie Kalem"

"Screw that "desert island disc list" construct -- who needs a boombox, batteries, and a CD wallet when you've got your body, man? That's the idea SLAMMIN is working with: Keith Terry smacks his body upside itself, Steve Hogan beatboxes, and, over it all and over the top, vocalists Bryan Dyer, Zoe Ellis, Kenny Washington, and Destani Wolf do what can only formally be called a cappella, including a vinyl-scratching, hyper-hop take on Outkast's "The Way You Move"." - EAST BAY EXPRESS

"Robert N Dietz"

"Wow. Fasten your seatbelts boys and girls because San Francisco-based SLAMMIN (an “all-body band”) is about to take you for a ride with their unique blend of rhythm dance, beatbox, and tight, often improvised harmonies. Imagine “Stomp” meets the House Jacks, add a healthy dose of jazz and a sprinkle of world music for flavor, let simmer, and you’ve got the unique and impressive sound that SLAMMIN offers here on their debut self-titled CD. All of the singers are absolutely phenomenal and turn in powerful solos that leave little to be desired. Blend and intonation are also by and large superb, quite a feat considering the majority of the recording is not only live but improvised as well. Seriously – improvised. I couldn’t believe it. These musicians are truly talented.
"Ok, that’s why this CD is impressive. Here’s why it’s unique. The rhythms that drive these tracks, created with a combination of Keith Terry’s tap dance/body music and Steve Hogan’s beatbox (which, by the way, dropped my jaw during the intro to “The Way You Move”), are amazingly intricate and unlike anything I’ve ever heard on a contemporary a cappella recording. The way in which each complements the other to form the rhythmic foundation for this music is a real sonic treat. Also, keep an ear open for the many innovative sounds scattered throughout the album, in particular the vocal trumpet solo on “All Blues/Ven Aca” (definitely one of the best I’ve ever heard). ??Bottom line: this CD is fantastic; I suspect that their live performance is even better. If you’ve seen SLAMMIN live, then you probably already have a copy of this CD If you haven’t, please do yourself a favor; pick one up, and join me in waiting with great anticipation for your chance to catch this group in performance. This CD is solid proof that SLAMMIN is a group worth watching. - Contemporary A Cappella Society

"Eric Leff, Jazz Director"

"I was most skeptical after reading the promo and usually do not favor vocal recordings, but this is very moving and fun music! Listened to it three times through tonight and I usually don't have time to give a recording more than a once through." - WRUV / Burlington, VT

"Steve Rubin"

“I put Slammin on and let it play for about 25 minutes. Let me tell you, it got the phone ringing. Even after my show was over I got emails forwarded to me asking who it was. You've got a winner.” - KZYX / Mendocino, CA


It's hard to describe exactly what it is Keith Terry and his SLAMMIN ensemble does. Start with four a cappella vocalists -- Bryan Dyer, Zoe Ellis, Kenny Washington, and Destani Wolf -- doing free improvisations in a wide range of styles. Add beatboxing master Steve Hogan, and of course,
Terry himself, the percussionist, rhythm dancer, and ringmaster. What you get is a group that can jump from funk to reggae to Indonesian folk music via its own unclassifiable blend of percussive vocal jazz. The band hits the stage like a whirlwind and never stops pulling psychedelic rabbits out of an invisible hat.



As this show is a combination of music and dance, our work is best represented by video. To be released is Slammin's LIVE performance video from Grand Performances, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

We have Body Music tracks on these releases from Crosspulse Media,

SLAMMIN All-Body Band (2005)

BODY TJAK (2001)





BODY MUSIC - the touring concert of the International Body Music Festival.

From the tundra to the tropics, people can’t resist the urge to snap, clap, step, holler, and sing artful music. This universal resonator—our bodies—and its myriad global sounds ignite audiences with music you can see, dance you can hear. It’s the oldest music on the planet, and it’s brand new.

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR KEITH TERRY, pioneer of contemporary Body Music, brings you a deeply visceral, cross-cultural conversation that only the world's oldest instrument, the body, can reach.

Concert programs are curated from the roster of International Body Music Festival performers, from 3 to 21 artists. Bookings can include Educational Outreach in the community: workshops, family outings, teacher trainings.

THREE SOLOISTS: Virtuosic artists Fernando Barba (Brazil), Jep Melendez (Spain), Keith Terry (US)

THE AMERICAS: Corposonic (contemporary, CA, US), Inuit Throatsingers (traditional, Nunavut, Canada), Danny Slapjazz Barber (traditional, CA, US), Tekeyé (contemporary, Bogota, Colombia)

BODY TJAK: Collaboration between Corposonic (US), Çudamani (Indonesia) and Barbatuques (Brazil)

Concerts may also include ensembles KeKeÇa (Turkey), Kantu Korpu (Greece), Molodi (US), and soloists Sandy Silva (Canada), Max Pollack (Austria), LeeLa Petronio (France), and others

Founded in 2008, the IBMF is presented in the San Francisco Bay Area every other year, and internationally in the interim years; 2010 was in Brazil, 2012 was in Turkey, 2014 Indonesia. The BODY MUSIC concert toured to Lincoln Center, NYC in 2010. A 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, Artistic Director Keith Terry created the six-day festival, featuring over 20 events with traditional and contemporary Body Music styles from around the world in concerts, teacher trainings, workshops for adults and teens, jam sessions and in-school programs.

The BODY MUSIC touring concert is an explosive performance that deeply touches our basic humanity. Everywhere BODY MUSIC performs, we encourage outreach into the community, connecting with international groups, children, teachers, artists.