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HARVARD ARTIST RESIDENCY
With invitation by Arts @ 29 and the Linguistics Department, Yeff joined Harvard University as guest lecturer and artist in residence in October last year.
Yeff commenced his residency with the Linguistics department, lecturing Harvard’s phonetics class on the role of experimental vocalism in social and scientific arenas.
Yeff’s career as beatboxer and musician garners unique insight into the effects of the voice on listeners. The innate role of “psychoacoustics”—predetermined human response to speech and sound making—emboldened Yeff to bridge performance and academic fields, early in his career.
In 2012 Yeff constituted the lead subject in a neuroscientific study by Dr. Sophie Scott of UCL’s neurology department. Results from an MRI identified Yeff’s beatbox specialism as exhibiting the same expert behaviour and fluidity as speech generation, as well as that harboured by advanced music practitioners. Concurrently, the study signifies its capacity within non-verbal communication.
Yeff later met with Harvard’s music and phonetic professors to discuss the unique values and crossovers, discoveries uncovered by beatboxing offer in unifying their departments.
Coining the post-beatbox movement, Yeff advocates contemporary exploration of the voice, or voice innovation, as a means to expand the phonetic vocabulary beyond known measures.
“Beatbox culture has unearthed new articulatory phonetics absent not just in language but the known human pallet.” - Harry Yeff
Further to enabling researchers to broaden the known range of sounds, Yeff’s suggested development of a rounded notation system offers applied, educational possibilities. He iterates contemporary beatboxing enables an interplay of multiple musical systems and freedom normally associated with digital instrumentation or composition—not a capability commonly present in solo musical instruments. The technique subsequently offers a free and universal, music-learning and music-making tool, an extraordinary feature for social and cultural development worldwide.
Yeff’s discourse into the possibilities of a post-beatbox notation system set in motion a formal investigation, conducted by Harvard student Devon Guinn and Professor Aleksei Nazarov.
“Harry Yeff is the kind of multi-disciplinary artist that embodies the mission of Arts @ 29 Garden...[his] unflagging energy, intelligence, and insightful presence as both a musician and visual artist have left an indelible mark both on this space and on this campus.” — Bess Paupeck