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Old 02-08-2004, 07:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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All that scratchin' is making me itch

(There was a thread similar to this but it degraded into equipment discussion and didn't go into much detail, hence this thread.)

I'm interested in what TFPers (especially classically trained musicians) think of scratching/turntablism. Do you think it's a novelty that isn't true music? What constitutes simply playing music and creating? And if you do see it as a real musical artform, where do you see it going?

Personally I think there is fine line between playback and creation and a lot of DJs move back and forth whether they'd like to admit it or not. For example, if a sample is cut up into a new pattern with record and crossfader movement I think that it's clearly creation. Occasionally though, a DJ will let the entire sample play after it's been thoroughly cut up into something new. Is that just an extension of the pattern or is it only playing music?

In my eyes it is not a novelty. There have been a number of transcription methods developed so that scratching can be read and recreated as an instrument like the piano would. Artists like the former Invisibl Skratch Piklz have put out full length scratch albums that exhibit how far things can be pushed. Technology is also responding in the form of magnetic crossfaders, "skip-proof" vinyl, and straight tone-armed turntables. However, I'm not sure where it is headed. With the advent of pitch controls with wide variation I could see the melodic element of turntable music being more accessible (i.e. not limited to "Mary Had a Little Lamb"). As for scratching itself, I see increasing complexity in techniques (obviously) and experimentation outside of 4/4 beats.
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Old 02-08-2004, 08:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I could go way into this but I don't see it as an argument and don't care to. Go see Q-Bert and tell me it's not true music. The DMC Championships are getting bigger and better every year. The turntable is what you make of it. Even straight mixing can be brought down to an art.

4/4 beats are the curse of breakbeat electronic music genres because people tend to call it all "Techno" when it varies as much as country and metal. I have nothing against *most* 4/4 music, it all serves a purpose. But I wish people would begin to recognize House from Trance, Trance from Breaks, and Breaks from Drum and Bass etc etc. IT'S NOT ALL TECHNO...
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Old 02-08-2004, 09:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Skip-proof vinyl. Hahaha. RIGHT! that'll be the day.

Straight tone armed turntables? You need to branch out a bit. The Rega RB300 arm is straight, and has been for at least 10 years. It might be most costly then your average DJ's rig with a Technics turntable. Take a look at Rega, Music Hall, Thorens, Clearaudio, Basis, VPI: they all have straight arms. I'm not sure how this would change the DJs of today.
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Old 02-08-2004, 09:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Notice I had quotation marks around skip-proof. It's not literally skip-proof but there are many records that align the same sample several times so that if there is a physical skip it hops on the exact same segment of the sample that is being scratched--it's pretty effective actually.

As for straight arm turntables, I should've specified that they are being designed specifically for scratching. Of course there have been hundreds of straight arm turntables before these but they certainly can not stand up to the abuse just because the tonearm is straight. You need to also consider platter stability, drive type, torque, pitch controls, etc.

Anyway, back on topic...
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Old 02-09-2004, 01:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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First and foremost, if you're a true MUSIC enthusiast, you would not be downplaying the artform of turntablism.

I'll put it to you like this ANOMALY_, if you really want to eat your words, go here and look at the sets for DJ Champ of 2003 and especially 2002.

ANOMALY_: I'm curious to know what you think now?
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Old 02-09-2004, 01:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Are there any recordings of a turntable dueling against a theremin? I got that image in my head after my iPod put a couple of tracks back to back...

(this is not a joke or a flip comment, but I know very little about turntablism)
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Old 02-09-2004, 04:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by redlemon
Are there any recordings of a turntable dueling against a theremin? I got that image in my head after my iPod put a couple of tracks back to back...

(this is not a joke or a flip comment, but I know very little about turntablism)
I'm not sure I understand your question redlemon.
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Old 02-09-2004, 05:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jephree
First and foremost, if you're a true MUSIC enthusiast, you would not be downplaying the artform of turntablism.

I'll put it to you like this ANOMALY_, if you really want to eat your words, go here and look at the sets for DJ Champ of 2003 and especially 2002.

ANOMALY_: I'm curious to know what you think now?
I don't think you read my post at all. I absolutely agree that it is legitimate music but I was taking the neutral position and wondering what other people thought of it (and then stated my own opinion ). Some mixing sets like Brainfreeze (which is great) use scratching as more of a garnish than as music in and of itself and the mislabeling of it as turntablism causes some to downplay scratching in general.

Another thing I've noticed is that the sonic quality of scratching itself seems to be generally displeasing to people. Maybe it's an aqcuired taste or something that can only be appreciated from the standpoint of an active participant rather than a passive listener. This might explain why it has not really come into the mainstream (how many times have you heard Wave Twisters tracks on the radio?).
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Old 02-09-2004, 10:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Go see Q-Bert and tell me it's not true music.
That's all that need be said about this subject. Turntablism is as much a music form as any other, not to mention the fact that it's the cornerstone of one of the most monumental music movements in history: Hip Hop.

Don't think it's a form of music? Listen to DJ Qbert, DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, DJ Cam and Cut Chemist and you'll see some talented fuckin people.
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Old 02-09-2004, 11:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I know alot of people don't listen to turntablism in the right way... nor electronic music even... so, of course, if you play QBert for grandma, and she's listening for a melodic quality, then she's probably going to be let down... turntablism is first and foremost a beat structure (and the, a good turntablist, can create melody within)
or something... $0.02
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Old 02-09-2004, 11:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Jephree, awesome site!

I agree with what's been said so far. DJ QBert and DJ Shadow especially kick ass. I'm not too familiar with the genre, and I'm one of those people that has trouble sometimes telling the difference between TRance/House/D&B/etc., but I love it. If you actually see it being done you really gain an appreciation for it.
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Old 02-10-2004, 11:36 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jephree
I'm not sure I understand your question redlemon.
I've heard two people on turntables going back and forth, trying to one-up each other.

A theremin is an "effects"-type instrument, where you wave your hands through an electrical field to create the notes. The most famous use of a theremin is in the Beach Boys song "Good Vibrations", although it was also in a lot of bad science fiction movies.

I want to hear both in the same song.
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Old 02-10-2004, 02:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anomaly_
I don't think you read my post at all. I absolutely agree that it is legitimate music but I was taking the neutral position and wondering what other people thought of it (and then stated my own opinion ). Some mixing sets like Brainfreeze (which is great) use scratching as more of a garnish than as music in and of itself and the mislabeling of it as turntablism causes some to downplay scratching in general.

Another thing I've noticed is that the sonic quality of scratching itself seems to be generally displeasing to people. Maybe it's an aqcuired taste or something that can only be appreciated from the standpoint of an active participant rather than a passive listener. This might explain why it has not really come into the mainstream (how many times have you heard Wave Twisters tracks on the radio?).
I did not intend to attack you Anomaly_ so if you took it that way, I apologize. I'm quick to express my opinion regarding any musical artform and didn't quite understand your position on this subject.


In regards to your comment that scratching (turntablism, etc.) may be an acquired taste, I think it all comes down to what you said. Active participants and passive listeners.
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Last edited by Jephree; 02-10-2004 at 03:03 PM..
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Old 02-11-2004, 08:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Just listen to this... just listen to this.. ju.. juwa.. ju.. just listen this.

DJ Yoda


I've been messing about with turntables for roughly twelve year s now and I would say I'm fairly competent but I've got nothing on this guy.

I've seen him live loads and I've been blown away every time.
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Old 02-11-2004, 10:31 AM   #15 (permalink)
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nice one on the dmc link
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Old 02-11-2004, 12:49 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Turtablism....nothing wrong with it but it isnt a creation but a variation. Furthermore if someone who never heard turntablism gets some..they may never be able to appreciate the actual records being played/cut. Maybe I could agree that Turntablism is an art/creation if there is no true resemblance the original records being cut up.
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Old 02-11-2004, 02:49 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bookman
Maybe I could agree that Turntablism is an art/creation if there is no true resemblance the original records being cut up.
well, um, duh... that's exactly at the core of turntablism.


my favorite turntablism piece involved a jazz trumpet and a turntable. The trumpet played a few notes, and then the turntablist countered with the same notes, and added a bit. So the trumpet did the same.. and back and forth... the turntablist wasn't just re-creating the feel of notes, but actually made the scratches in pitch with the song... beautiful piece, and I wish I knew what it was so as to play it for all the non-believers
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Old 02-11-2004, 04:49 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bookman
Turtablism....nothing wrong with it but it isnt a creation but a variation. Furthermore if someone who never heard turntablism gets some..they may never be able to appreciate the actual records being played/cut. Maybe I could agree that Turntablism is an art/creation if there is no true resemblance the original records being cut up.
This is a good point and what I was trying to hit on. I believe artists like DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Z-Trip, etc., although good in their own right, cannot be categorized as scratching/turntablism because their style isn't pure manipulation. I think not being able to recognize a single sample is the purest form of turntablism. D-Styles, a former Skratch Pikl, has this interpretation of scratching as well and he strives to make everything new as opposed to just scratching over a stock beat. A side benefit of this, I think, is that scratching will be less oriented towards technique and virtuosity and more towards musicality as DJs become concerned with the composition of their work.

Quote:
my favorite turntablism piece involved a jazz trumpet and a turntable. The trumpet played a few notes, and then the turntablist countered with the same notes, and added a bit. So the trumpet did the same.. and back and forth... the turntablist wasn't just re-creating the feel of notes, but actually made the scratches in pitch with the song... beautiful piece, and I wish I knew what it was so as to play it for all the non-believers
I'm not sure but it could be DJ Krush's collaboration with trumpeter Toshinori Kondo on the ablum "Ki-Oku".
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Old 02-11-2004, 10:27 PM   #19 (permalink)
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There's a lot of talk about *creation.

I'm curious to know what *creation (creating) refers to? Once again, I will refer to you to my post above to watch the sets for DJ Champ 2002 & 2003 @ DMC Worlds.

That's creating a music! Is it not?.
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Old 02-12-2004, 02:31 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Turntablism was changed forever with the invention of the 'home' vinyl cutter. (cost roughly $7000 - $8000 so they're only for the serious muso)

Now, instead of marking up twenty different records with sticky labels on the break, DJs can cut their own vinyl with either many samples or they can record their own original material.

Other effects can be created by recording continuous tones or cut up tones / guitar noises / dog barks / anything you can imagine. (even a theremin if you so desire)



CD turntables have also made big technological advances in recent years. I own one DENON S3000 CD player and two vinyl turntables and the difference in sound between the two (when scratching) is negligible. The other advantage of CD is that you can burn your own material quickly and cheaply.

You can argue amongst yourselves whether scratching on CD is true to the art; personally I just see both objects as mere tools for making noise.
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Old 02-12-2004, 12:45 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwoody


Turntablism was changed forever with the invention of the 'home' vinyl cutter. (cost roughly $7000 - $8000 so they're only for the serious muso)

Now, instead of marking up twenty different records with sticky labels on the break, DJs can cut their own vinyl with either many samples or they can record their own original material.

Other effects can be created by recording continuous tones or cut up tones / guitar noises / dog barks / anything you can imagine. (even a theremin if you so desire)


CD turntables have also made big technological advances in
recent years. I own one DENON S3000 CD player and two vinyl turntables and the difference in sound between the two (when scratching) is negligible. The other advantage of CD is that you can burn your own material quickly and cheaply.

You can argue amongst yourselves whether scratching on CD is true to the art; personally I just see both objects as mere tools for making noise.
CD decks added a whole new realm to mixing. It's great! However, personally, I still prefer vinyl.
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Old 02-12-2004, 05:03 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I don't think the Vestax vinyl cutter changed much. Those who can afford to shell out that kind of cash just have their records professionally pressed. Pressed records are more durable and that is pretty important when you're thrashing them all day. As for turntable-like CD players, I think they're neat but they will never be quite as malleable as an analog medium like vinyl. (Although CDs do have the advantage of not wearing out.)

One of the unique qualities of this genre is that technology is continually expanding what can be done. This can be both good and bad. Unlike the violin or a similar traditional instrument, it doesn't look like there will a plateau in design anytime soon. On the other hand, all of it costs money and there's no consistency in being able to replicate something from setup to setup.
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Old 02-12-2004, 08:55 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Damn nice link Jephree.

I have nothing against scratch and spin but I feel that too few of those kids know anything about rhythim and melody. Without it it's not music but a colection of noise that may be hard to make but isnt anything more then that. Yoda comes to mind here, fast yes, talented no.
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:41 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anomaly_
I don't think the Vestax vinyl cutter changed much. Those who can afford to shell out that kind of cash just have their records professionally pressed. Pressed records are more durable and that is pretty important when you're thrashing them all day. As for turntable-like CD players, I think they're neat but they will never be quite as malleable as an analog medium like vinyl. (Although CDs do have the advantage of not wearing out.)
Yeah, what he said.
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Old 02-13-2004, 01:39 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I don't wish to steer the discussion too far away from scratchin' but... if you want to get your own vinyl pressed (from my own experience) it would cost a minimum of 300 (about $500) for a minimum of 100 copies.

If you know where I can get single pressings for less I'd love to know where.

^don't take that as sarcasm. I'd really love to know. Really.
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Old 02-13-2004, 05:18 PM   #26 (permalink)
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you can get dub plates made in singles... they cost like $30 each (I think)... and they wear out REALLY fast... only good for a couple dozen rotations before the sound quality deminishes too much to make their sound worthwhile...
but there's an option.. unfortunatelly, I can't help point you in the direction of where to get this done, since I prefer CD and DAT..
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Old 02-14-2004, 12:02 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwoody
I don't wish to steer the discussion too far away from scratchin' but... if you want to get your own vinyl pressed (from my own experience) it would cost a minimum of 300 (about $500) for a minimum of 100 copies.

If you know where I can get single pressings for less I'd love to know where.

^don't take that as sarcasm. I'd really love to know. Really.
I remember there being a Rainbow Records that used to be pretty economic but I can't seem to find it now. Doing a Google search, I found this company which is a bit less than the quote you mentioned and I'm fairly sure they're not dub plates. Of course that's kind of negated when you have to pay for shipping to the UK.
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