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The First International Body Music Festival Hits San Francisco & Oakland, December 2-7 2008
Published October 21, 2008

Body musicians to perform traditional and contemporary pieces from the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, and Canada’s Arctic.

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 ro