An Overview

Welcome to Beatboxology, a method of describing vocal sounds using icons.

Beatboxology was developed by beatboxing pioneer Gavin Tyte (aka TyTe) and is the method used to describe sounds in this educational web application, BZZKTT.

On this page…


Places of Articulation







Putting it all Together




Beatboxology uses icons which, when combined, can notate even the most complex beatboxing sounds.

The icons represent the parts of the mouth anatomy, making them both easy to understand and easy to use. These icons are called iconophonics.

In Beatboxology there are several types of iconophonic:

Plosives, Fricatives and Percussives – describe the way in which the sound is generated

Stops – are parts of the mouth that remain in contact

Vocals – show if the sound is voiced

Effectors – describe way in which the sound is shaped

Places of Articulation

There are sixteen places in the human mouth that are used to make sounds. In this diagram you can see how each icon is a simplified representation of a particular part of the mouth; lips, teeth, and so on.

Places of Articulation (where sounds are made)


Plosives are sounds created by stopping and suddenly releasing airflow between two (or more) parts of the mouth anatomy. Plosives include the English language letters d, t, b, k, and p.

For example, a Bilabial (two lip) Plosive will stop and release the air between two lips making an English letter b sound. In Beatboxology this is shown using an iconophonic where the two mouth parts are touching.

Here are the icons for the two mouth parts (lips).

The two lip icons

And here is the resulting iconophonic:

Bilabial Plosive
The Bilabial Plosive Iconophonic

And it sounds like this:


Fricatives are continuous sounds created by squeezing air between two or more mouth parts. In the English language, s, sh, f, and h are all fricatives.

Fricatives are shown as iconophonics with a small gap between the mouth parts. For example, a Bilabial Fricative.

Bilabial Fricative

Here is a beatboxer making a Bilabial Fricative:


Percussives are sounds created by banging together two parts of the mouth anatomy. Typically, very few sounds are created this way. In Beatboxology, Percussives are indicated by a small circle overlapping the two mouth parts.

This is a Sublingual (under tongue) Percussive made by the tongue and the floor of the mouth.

Sublingual Percussive

Here is a Beatboxer making a Sublingual Percussive.


Stops are where two (or more) parts of the anatomy stay in contact for the duration of the sound. For example, the lips stay pressed together when articulating the English language letter m. Stops are indicated by having a connecting line between the two mouth parts.

Bilabial Stop


The Vocal iconophonic is used to show if a sound is voiced or vocalised.

The Vocal Iconophonic

The Vocal Iconophonic can indicate if the voice is pitched medium, high, or low.

Vocal (High)
Vocal pitched high
Vocal (Low)
Vocal pitched low


And finally, there are five different effectors that can shape a sound. A sound can be made aspirated (breathing), inwards (injected), forced, oscillated, and/or tightened.

The five Effector Iconophonics

This is the Aspiration Effector that shows that the sound is made whilst breathing.

Aspiration Effector

This is the Inward Effector that shows that the sound is made inwards.

Inward Effector

This is the Forced Effector. When this is applied to plosives a small vibration or short oscillation is produced that amplifies the sound.

The Forced Effector

This is the Oscillation Effector. This shows that the plosive is oscillated to produce continuous vibration.

Oscillation Effector

This is the Tight Effector. It is applied to plosives to show that the lip or tongue muscles are tightened.

TyTe Effector
The Tight Effector

Putting it all together

Iconophonics can be combined to describe more complex sounds. For example, here is an 808 snare drum sound.

808 Snare Drum

It is a tight and forced alveolar plosive! And it sounds like this:


BZZKTT is an education web application that uses Beatboxology to teach beatboxing using a combination of iconophonics and language-free video explanations.

Find out more…

TyTe on

Revd Gavin Tyte – BA (Hons), Cert. Ed., Dip. H.E.

Beatboxology is a beatbox notation methodology developed by Gavin Tyte (aka TyTe). All Icons developed by TyTe. © 2016-2020 Revd Gavin Tyte (aka TyTe). All Rights Reserved.


Special thanks to Gary Taylor-Raebel, Tyler Thompson, Kevin Le Maux, and Michael Wyatt for their help in reviewing Beatboxology and giving me extra work! I valued your input and help. Thank you! 🙂


BZZKTT Version 8.2 • © 2015-2020 Gavin ‘Beatbox’ Tyte (aka TyTe) • All Rights Reserved

BZZKTT is kindly hosted by Alex Tearse from Reefnet.

Special thanks to Alex Tearse, Paul Arnett, Michael Wyatt, Tyler Thompson, Helen Tyte, David ‘Goznet’ Gosnell, and Jerusalem Productions.