TEC HNIQ U E
T E C HN IQ UE
turntablism part 02
SCRATCHING BEAT MATCHING DJ MIX / DJ MIXER HIP HOP ELECTRONIC MUSIC
TURNTABLES The ordinary shaded-pole motor, which runs your electric drill or power saw, is no good for such precision work because any variation in the voltage of your house current will change its speed. Most turntables use a specially designed “induction” motor which is fairly stable in feed, though extreme changes in line voltage may disturb it (look for a tag stating its requirements: “95 to 130 Volts” means disaster-proof). Even this isn’t absolutely steady. The 60-cycle alternation of AC electric supply, however, is invariable (an electric clock practically never goes wrong), and thus a “synchronous” motor, which decides its speed by the frequency of alternating current, can keep a constant rpm unless a complete power failure occurs. It also eliminated the dangers of turntable rumble and extruded “hum.” Getting this constant speed of the motor up to the turntable (in three different varieties) takes considerable ingenuity. Today’s best and most expensive turntables use one of five methods to translate motor speed into turntable rotation. On the Rek-O-Kut and the Garrard the power gets to the turntable by means of a “rim drive”; that is the final agent is a bard-rubber drive wheel which locks into position between the motor’s axle spindle and the inside rim of the turntable. This is the most common way of making a turntable spin. Usually the spindle, the upward-protruding end of the motor shaft, is cut in “steps” to three different diameters. The speed-control knob locks the wheel against one of the three steps. When the wheel locks against the part of the shaft with the greatest diameter, the turntable spins most swiftly, and so on. A conical or tapered spindle may be used to give continuously variable speed---anywhere from 15, say, to 100 revolutions per minute.
There are several variations on this procedure. Rek-OKut, for example, locks wheels of different diameter against a one-size spindle; the new Weathers uses a ceramic disc instead of a rubber drive wheel, and attaches the disc directly to the motor shaft.
The D & R applies to the drive wheel to the outer rather than the inner rim of the turntable. On the Scott the turntable drive is direct: that is, the drive shaft of the motor locks into one of three gears on another drive shaft, which in turn is geared to the center of the turntable. The Components Corporation uses a linen belt which fits directly onto the drive shaft (at one of three diameters) and then fits around the circumference of the turntable. The Fairchild runs the belt inside, to a cast-iron flywheel below the table. There are arguments for and against each of these methods. The Components Corporation gets the motor farthest from the turntable and the pickup, thus minimizing the danger of noise from the motor. For the same reason, though, it is rather bulky and unattractive, and requires the most elaborate mounting. Direct drive uses metal parts only and can thus be machined to the closest tolerances. It also lasts longest, at least in theory --but not necessarily in practice. And when something goes wrong, the repair may be expensive. Rim drive requires occasional replacement of the rubbertired idler wheels and drive spindle-tops. It is, however, the easiest to repair.
TURNTABLES AS MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS There is no categorical divide between turntables as playback devices and as musical instruments. They are conclusively instruments when turntablists perform live. But, it is also possible to create new music by only moving the pickup around between the tracks, and, arguably, to create new music by playing two existing recordings simultaneously without manipulating them further, or physically manipulating the vinyl records but playing the record back in a standard fashion on the turntable. From a technical point of view, the simplest, and also most common, equipment offers a limited set of sound-making and sound-changing possibilities, quite comparable to a traditional instrument like the guitar (Beamish, 2004; Hansen & Bresin, 2006). The DJ can choose the sound material (select recording, select where to play in the recording), set amplitude (crossfader, channel/up fader), set pitch (move record, adjust pitch slider), change timbre (equalization). Combining these features, onset and offset control is sample, but the characteristics of the recording dictate and often limit tone duration and pitch control. Timbre control is restricted to adjustments in the “high”, “medium” and “low” frequency areas. These conditions apply to all the different playing techniques, from mixing and beat juggling to scratching and drumming.
In terms of interaction, the instrument provides visual, tactile and auditory feedback. The visual is restricted to inspecting the vinyl, level meters and the positions of the pickup, knobs and sliders, while the only tactile feedback comes from direct touch. The audio mixers have two separate out channels, which means it is possible to play one record through the monitors and listen to the other with headphones. The set-ups used by participants in the study consisted of more advanced equipment than outlined above; Matt used an advanced mixer, the Pioneer DJM-600, Rich had DVS (turntables and Serato) but was instructed not to use it, and Tony used a Rane 61 mixer and Denon SC3900 CD players connected to Serato and did use the additional functionality offered by DVS.
The main advantages of DVS systems are the digital storage of music, an excellent visual representation on the screen, a BPM count estimator, and fast access to cue points. Excepting these conveniences, using ordinary turntables or DVS does not differ much.
If musical shape really was understood as the large-scale composition the results would have shown that the DJs “decomposed” the tunes by for instance playing verses, intros and other defined parts in an unstructured order. Now, as it seems, shaping is done on the smaller scale and confirms the assumption of turntables as being musical instruments.
The Pioneer DJM-600 mixer has a BPM count estimator, indication for when two tracks are in sync, recording and playback of samples with pitch and tempo modulations, and several digital audio effects and filters.
For reasons still to be disclosed, the turntablism community has always been conservative and unwilling to accept “shortcuts” to virtuosity: for instance, the DMC World Championships did not allow DVS until 2011 although a majority of DJs already used it (Katz, 2012; DMC World DJ Championships, 2012). It is therefore interesting to learn that playing without shape meant partly using fewer playing techniques (scratching and beat juggling), and partly refraining from using EQ controls to even-out or juxtapose the timbres, even when they all primarily related shape to the larger-scale composition of the mix.
In reproducing a phonograph record, the aim is to take out of the groove exactly the intelligence that was pressed into them. And the wiggles in the groove are meaningless in themselves. They have to induce exactly the right physical motion in a stylus before they make sense --- which means that they must move under the stylus at the right speed and that the stylus itself must track the groove accurately, wigwagging as the wiggles demand. A turntable spins the grooves; a tone arm holds pickup and stylus in place. What we want from the turntable sounds simple, but it isn't. In the first place, there are three speeds: 78.26 rpm for the old-fashioned standard shellac records, 45 rpm for the little seven-inchers with the big center holes, and 331/3 rpm for long-playing discs. The speed must be exact in every case. If the turntable is slow, the pitch drops; if fast, the pitch rises. Moreover, the speed must be exact at every instant of playing. A turntable that alternately slows down and speeds up will ruin musical enjoyment even though its average in each rotation is an exact 78.26, 45 or 33 1/3 rpm. The phenomenon produced is called "wow," a very expressive word denoting the alternating rise and fall of musical pitch which results from fluctuations in turntable speed. When these fluctuations are rapid, the term is "flutter."
The ordinary shaded-pole motor, which runs your electric drill or power saw, is no good for such precision work because any variation in the voltage of your house current will change its speed.Most turntables use a specially designed “induction” motor which is fairly stable in feed, though extreme changes in line voltage may disturb it (look for a tag stating its requirements: “95 to 130 Volts” means disaster-proof). Even this isn’t absolutely steady. The 60-cycle alternation of AC electric supply, however, is invariable (an electric clock practically never goes wrong), and thus a “synchronous” motor, which decides its speed by the frequency of alternating current, can keep a constant rpm unless a complete power failure occurs. It also eliminated the dangers of turntable rumble and extruded “hum.” Getting this constant speed of the motor up to the turntable (in three different varieties) takes considerable ingenuity. Today’s best and most expensive turntables use one of five methods to translate motor speed into turntable rotation.
how the turntables work?
Usually the spindle, the upward-protruding end of the motor shaft, is cut in “steps” to three different diameters. The speed-control knob locks the wheel against one of the three steps. When the wheel locks against the part of the shaft with the greatest diameter, the turntable spins most swiftly, and so on. A conical or tapered spindle may be used to give continuously variable speed---anywhere from 15, say, to 100 revolutions per minute. There are several variations on this procedure. Rek-OKut, for example, locks wheels of different diameter against a one-size spindle; the new Weathers uses a ceramic disc instead of a rubber drive wheel, and attaches the disc directly to the motor shaft.
The D & R applies to the drive wheel to the outer rather than the inner rim of the turntable. On the Scott the turntable drive is direct: that is, the drive shaft of the motor locks into one of three gears on another drive shaft, which in turn is geared to the center of the turntable. The Components Corporation uses a linen belt which fits directly onto the drive shaft (at one of three diameters) and then fits around the circumference of the turntable. The Fairchild runs the belt inside, to a cast-iron flywheel below the table. There are arguments for and against each of these methods. The Components Corporation gets the motor farthest from the turntable and the pickup, thus minimizing the danger of noise from the motor. For the same reason, though, it is rather bulky and unattractive, and requires the most elaborate mounting. Direct drive uses metal parts only and can thus be machined to the closest tolerances. It also lasts longest, at least in theory --- but not necessarily in practice. And when something goes wrong, the repair may be expensive. Rim drive requires occasional replacement of the rubber-tired idler wheels and drive spindle-tops. It is, however, the easiest to repair.
how the turntables work?
On the Rek-O-Kut and the Garrard the power gets to the turntable by means of a “rim drive”; that is,the final agent is a bard-rubber drive wheel which locks into position between the motor’s axle spindle and the inside rim of the turntable. This is the most common way of making a turntable spin.
a new model for computer turntables Computer based turntablism relies on the symbiotic relationship between performer and computer. If the performer does not act as an input source (in the sense of supplying a computer system with physical gestures to create sound) to the computer instrument, no sound will be produced. This ethos can be viewed in parallel with that of the adaptive synthesis concept described by Risto Holopainen in his PhD project description, â€˜Building Autonomous Instrument: Aesthetic, Psychoacoustic and Musico-Technologic Perspective on Adaptive Synthesisâ€™.
In the context of a computer-based turntablist system this style of synthesis is highly relevant. Without delving too much into the technical aspect of the system one can view this style of synthesis with a relatively simple computer instrument using Max/MSP and Ms Pinky. The configuration in my current system allows me to control numerous audio files from my computer by using one turntable. With the ability to control the audio similar to that of any record, pitch, direction and speed are easy to manipulate via the vinyl.
11 However, one huge advantage of using Ms Pinky software in the programming environment of Max/MSP is the ease with which one can make the vinyl control other aspects of the computer instrument, as numeric values for pitch, direction and speed are relayed to the computer. This allows the user to control filters and effects like reverb feedback and, with the use of conditionals, allows me to turn on buttons and trigger events, such as a record button. The adaptive synthesis model is applicable in a number of ways. The numeric values outputted from the vinyl to the laptop, affect the ways the instrument will generate audio, in the sense of imposing different characteristics on the audio files controlled by the laptop, with regard to filtering or effects. Equally, if I triggered a buffer to record this processed audio, I could then control the pitch, direction and speed of this buffer from the turntable, again restating the ethos of adaptive synthesis. ‘In a sense, adaptive synthesis is all about constructing musical automata’. Within the system above there is a presence of autonomous instruments: the interactive computer environment can be designed to be better behaved and responsive to a musician’s actions, as opposed to merely acting as an instrument that the musician doesn’t control,once started. These are the two major differences in instruments within the realm of autonomous instruments and adaptive synthesis, distinctly separated by Holopainen, the former of which I think is more applicable to computer based turntablism.
This hybrid of turntablism and laptop performance is a genre which, I believe, will usher in a new era of appreciation and interest for the turntable from both the academic world and Electronic Music culture alike. The history of the turntable conveys that while the instrument itself remains relatively unchanged in design and functionality, the context in which it is used calls for a new approach and way of appreciating the instrument. Given the current technological climate, it would seem to be a logical conclusion for the instrument to be introduced to a computer or laptop system. Artists such as DJ Sniff, Daito Manabe and a selection of students from academic institutions worldwide are embracing this hybrid and are fusing an instrument which they have used for many years in a different context with more institutionalised styles of music and production processing on the computer.
CATR I DGE
catridge history The most difficult part of the job is mechanical. The pickup must hold the stylus tightly enough to keep it in the groove even when it is jolted hard by a strong low-frequency signal. At the same time, it must let the stylus swing freely within the groove. When there’s a pause in the groove’s modulations, the stylus must spring back firmly to dead center, without any extraneous vibrations.
Many of the new pickups are smaller than the nail on your little finger, and most of them weigh less than five cents’ worth of pennies. They are a triumph of miniaturization, a striking exception to the usual mechanical rule that the more delicate the work you have to do, the bigger the machine you need for it. For pickups deal with motions that can be measured only in hundreds of thousandths of an inch, and with electrical signals as small as a few one-thousandths of a volt-and many of them at once.
At the same time, it must comply effortlessly with the correct vibrations when the music begins again.
Technically, the word for it is “transducer.” A phonograph record is a physical fact: a thing. A turntable produces physical motion, the spinning of a disc. But the pickup lives partly in the physical world of its wigwagging stylus, and partly in the electrical world where all the rules are subtly different. It is the job of the pickup to transform the physical motions produced by the record, the turntable, the tone arm and the stylus into electrical signals containing the message from the frozen sound.
SCRATCHING SKILLS Scratching is a DJ or turntablist technique used to produce distinctive sounds by moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable while optionally manipulating the crossfader on a DJ mixer. While scratching is most commonly associated with hip hop music, since the mid-1970s, it has been used in some styles of pop and nu metal. Within hip hop culture, scratching is one of the measures of a DJâ€™s skills, as in DMC World DJ Championship or IDA (International DJ Association) former ITF (International turntablist Federation) where the DJs can use only scratch oriented gears (turntables + mixer + digital vinyl systems or vinyl only, and there are many scratching competitions.
In recorded hip-hop songs, scratched hooks often use portions of different rap songs.
The history of Scratching was developed by early hip hop DJs from New York such as Grand Wizard Theodore, who describes scratching as, “nothing but the back-cueing that you hear in your ear before you push it [the recorded sound] out to the crowd.” (Toop, 1991). Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc also influenced the early development of scratching. Kool Herc developed breakbeat DJing, where the breaks of funk songs— being the most danceable part, often featuring percussion—were isolated and repeated for the purpose of all-night dance parties.
Christian Marclay was one of the earliest musicians to scratch outside of hip hop. In the mid-1970s, Marclay used gramophone recordsand turntables as musical instruments to create sound collages.
In 1981 Grandmaster Flash released the song “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” which is notable for its use of many DJ techniques such as scratching. It was not the first recorded song to use scratching however, it can be heard in earlier songs like “Bounce, Rock, Skate,Roll” by Vaughan Mason & Crew for example. In 1982, Malcolm McLaren & the World’s Famous Supreme Team released a single “Buffalo Gals”, juxtaposing extensive scratching with calls from square dancing, and, in 1983, the EP, D’ya Like Scratchin’?, which is entirely focused on scratching. Another 1983 release to prominently feature scratching is Herbie Hancocks Grammy Award winning song “Rockit”. This song was also performed live at the 1983 Grammy Awards, and in the documentary film Scratch, the performance is cited by many DJs as their first exposure to scratching. The Street Sounds Electro compilation series which started in 1983 is also notable for early examples of scratching.
S CRATCHIN G
Although previous artists such as William S. Burroughs had experimented with the idea of manipulating a reel to reel tape manually for the sounds produced (such as with his 1950s recording, “Sound Piece”), vinyl scratching as an element of hip hop pioneered the idea of making the sound an integral and rhythmic part of music instead of uncontrolled noise.
He developed his turntable sounds independently of hip hop DJs. Although he is littleknown to mainstream audiences, Marclay has been described as “the most influential turntable figure outside hip hop.”and the “unwitting inventor of turntablism.”
Most scratches are produced by moving a vinyl record back and forth with the hand while it is playing on a turntable. This creates a distinctive sound that has come to be one of the most recognizable features of hip hop music. Over time with excessive scratching the stylus will cause what is referred to as record burn. The basic equipment setup for scratching includes two turntables, and a DJ mixer, which is a mixer that has a crossfader and cue buttons to allow the DJ to cue up new music without the audience hearing.When scratching, this crossfader is utilized in conjunction with the “scratching hand” to cut in and out of the scratched record.
DIGITAL VINYL RECORDINGS Using a digital vinyl system (DVS) consists of playing vinyl discs on turntables whose contents is a timecode signal instead of music.The turntables’ audio outputs are connected to the audio inputs of a computer audio interface. The audio interface digitizes this signal from the turntables and transfers it to a DJ software.DJ software uses this data to know the playback status, speed, scratch of the hardware turntables, and duplicates them on its virtual turntables.The DJ thus controls how the computer plays back digitized audio and can therefore scratch computer tracks. There is not a single standard of DVS, so that each piece of DJ software has its own settings, some DJ software as Traktor Scratch Pro or Serato Scratch Live supports only the audio interface sold with their software (so that if you must use 2 audio interfaces to use both software on the same computer).
NON-VINYL SCRATCHING While most turntablists consider the only true scratching media is the vinyl disc, there are other ways to scratch, as: CD players for DeeJays, CD player with a jog wheel allowing the DJ to manipulate a CD as if it were a vinyl record, have become widely available.
CD Player DJ Scratching
S CRATCHIN G
Vinyl emulation software allow a DJ to manipulate on a computer the playback of digital music files via a DJ control surface (generally MIDI or a HID controller). DJs can scratch, beatmatch, and perform other turntablist operations that would be impossible with a conventional keyboard-and-mouse. DJ software performing computer scratch operations are for example Traktor Pro, Mixxx, Serato Scratch Live & Itch, Virtual DJ, M-Audio Torq, DJay, Deckadance, Cross. DJs have also used magnetic tape, such as Cassette or Reel to Reel to both mix and scratch. Tape DJing is rare but Ruthless Ramsey in the US and Mr Tape in Latvia use exclusively tape formats to perform.
SCRATCHING CULTURE While scratching is becoming more and more popular within pop music, sophisticated scratching is still predominantly an underground style. The Invisibl Skratch Piklz from San Francisco focuses on scratching. In 1994, the group was formed by DJs Q-Bert, Disk & Shortkut and later Mix Master Mike. In July 2000, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts held Skratchcon2000, the first DJ Skratch forum that provided “the education and development of skratch music literacy”. In 2001, Thud Rumble became an independent company that works with DJ artists to produce and distribute scratch records.
In 2004, Scratch Magazine, one of the first publications about hip-hop DJs and producers, released its debut issue, following in the footsteps of the lesser-known Tablist magazine. Pedestrian is a UK arts organisation that runs Urban Music Mentors workshops for youth in which DJs tell youth how to create beats, use turntables, MC, and perform.
DJ AFRIKA BAMBAATA
USE OUTSIDE OF HIP-HOP
Scratching has been incorporated into a number of other musical genres, including pop, rock, jazz, heavy metal and classical music performances. For recording use, samplers are often used instead of physically scratching a vinyl record. Rage Against the Machine (and former Audioslave) guitarist Tom Morello performs scratching-inspired guitar solos. In the song â€œBulls on Paradeâ€?, and many other songs in which he solos, he creates scratch-like rhythmic sounds by rubbing the strings over the pick-ups while using the pick-up selector switch as a cross-fader.
Since the 1990s, scratching has begun being used in a variety of popular music genres, such as nu metal acts (like Linkin Park, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit) and in some types of pop music (e.g. Nelly Furtado), and in some types of alternative rock (e.g. Incubus).. Scratching is also popular in various electronic music styles, most particularly in hardgroove techno.
SOPHISTOCATED TECHNIQUES FORWARD & BACKWARD SCRATCH
The simplest scratch form, it is performed with the scratching hand only, moving the record back and forth in continuous movements while the crossfader is in the open position.
The forward scratch, also referred to as “cutting”, is a babyscratch where the crossfader is closed during the backwards movement of the record. If the record is let go instead of being pushed forward it is also called “release scratch”. Cutting out the forward part of the record movement instead of the backward part gives a “backward scratch”.
TEAR SCRATCH Tear scratches are scratches where the record is moved in a staggered fashion, dividing the forward and backward movement into two or more movements. This allows creating sounds similar to “flare scratches” without use of the crossfader and it allows for more complex rhythmic patterns. The term can also refer to a simpler, slower version of the chirp.
CHRIP SCRATCH The chirp scratch involves closing the fader just after playing the start of a sound and as you shut the sound off you should also stop the record moving at that point too, then reverse manouvre the record while opening the fader to get a kinda “ chir-pa “ pattern simply from one baby scratch and a cut in the centre . When performed using a recording of drums this allows creating the illusion of doubled scratching speed, due to the attack created by cutting in the crossfader on the backward movement.
SCIBBLE SCRATCH The scribble scratch is performed without the crossfader, and is performed by tensing the forearm muscles of the scratching hand and rapidly jiggling the record back and forth.
HYDROPHONIC SCRATCH Is a baby scratch with a “tear scratch” sound produced by your thumb running the opposite direction as your scratch fingers. This rubbing of the thumb adds a vibrating effect or reverberation to forward movements on the turntable.
S CRATCHIN G
SOPHISTOCATED TECHNIQUES TRANSFORMER SCRATCH With the crossfader closed, the record is moved with the scratching hand while periodically “tapping” the crossfader open and immediately closing it again.
FLARE SCRATCH It begins with the crossfader open, and then the record is moved while briefly closing the fader one or more times to cut the sound out. This produces a staggering sound which can make a single “flare” sound like a very fast series of “chirps” or “tears.” The number of times the fader is closed (“clicks”) during the record’s movement is usually used as a prefix to distinguish the variations. The flare allows a DJ to scratch continuously with less hand fatigue than transforming. The flare can be combined with the crab for an extremely rapid continuous series of scratches.
CRAB SCRATCH It consists of moving the record while quickly tapping the crossfader open with each finger of the crossfader hand. In this way, DJs are able to perform transforms or flares much faster than they could by manipulating the crossfader with the whole hand. It produces a fading/increasing transforming sound.
TWIDDLE SCRATCH Consists of a two finger Crab Scratch using your index and middle fingers.
ORBIT SCRATCH This term describes any scratch (most commonly flares) that are repeated during the forward and backward movement of the record. Orbit is also used as a shorthand for 2-click flares.
TWEAK SCRATCH It is performed with the turntable’s motor off. The record platter is set in motion manually, then “tweaked” faster and slower to create a songlike scratch. This scratch form is best performed with long, sustained sounds.
EURO SCRATCH A variation of the “flare scratch” in which two faders are used simultaneously with one hand to cut the sound much faster. The euro scratch can also be done by using only the up fader and the phono line switch to cut the sound.
S CRATCHIN G
BEAT M ATCHING
BEAT MATCHIN G
BEAT M ATCHING
BEAT MATCHING SKILLS Beatmatching (or Beatmaxing) is a disc jockey technique of pitch shifting or timestretching an upcoming track to match its tempo to that of the currently playing track â€” i.e., the kicks and snares in two house records hit at the same time when both records are played simultaneously. Beatmatching is a component of mixing which employs beatmatching combined with equalization, attention to phrasing and track selection in an attempt to make a single mix that flows together and has a good structure. The technique was developed to keep the people from leaving the dancefloor at the end of the song. These days it is considered basic among DJs in electronic dance music genres, and it is standard practice in clubs to keep the constant beat through the night, even if DJs change in the middle. Beatmatching is no longer considered a novelty, and new digital software has made the technique much easier to master.
The history of Beatmatching was invented by Francis Grasso in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Initially he was counting the tempo with a metronome and looking for records with the same tempo. Later a mixer was built for him by Alex Rosner which let him listen to any channel in the headphones independently of what was playing on the speakers; this became the defining feature of DJ mixers. That and turntables with pitch control enabled him to mix tracks with different tempo by changing the pitch of the cued (redirected to headphones) track to match its tempo with the track being played by ear. Essentially, the technique he originated hasnâ€™t changed since. These days beatmatching is considered central to DJing, and features making it possible are a requirement for DJ-oriented players. In 1978, the Technics SL-1200MK2 turntable was released, whose comfortable and precise sliding pitch control and high torque direct drive motor made beatmatching easier and it became the standard among DJs. With the advent of the compact disc, DJoriented Compact Disc players with pitch control and other features enabling beatmatching (and sometimes scratching), dubbed CDJs, were introduced by various companies.
Pioneer’s latest CDJ-2000nexus player has a “Beat-Sync” feature which automatically adjusts the tempo between tracks being mixed so the DJ no longer needs to spend time & effort matching beats. This has caused some controversy in the DJ industry since almost anyone can beat-match thanks to the new function.
BEAT MATCHIN G
More recently, software with similar capabilities has been developed to allow manipulation of digital audio files stored on computers using turntables with special vinyl records (e.g. Final Scratch, M-Audio Torq, Serato Scratch Live) or computer interface (e.g. Traktor DJ Studio, Mixxx, Virtual DJ). Other software including algorithmic beatmatching is Ableton Live, which allows for realtime music manipulation and deconstruction, or Mixmeister, a DJ Mixset creation tool. Freeware software such as Rapid Evolution can detect the beats per minute and determine the percent BPM difference between songs. The change from pure hardware to software is on the rise, and big DJs are introducing new equipment to their kits such as the laptop, and dropping the difficulty of carrying hundreds of CDs with them. The creation of the mp3-player allowed DJs to have an alternative tool for DJIng. Limitations with mp3-player DJing equipment has meant that only second generation equipment such as the IDJ2 or the Cortex Dmix-300 have the pitch control that alters tempo and allows for beatmatching on a digital music player. However, recent additions to the Pioneer CDJ family, such as the CDJ-2000, allow mp3player and other digital storage devices (such as external hard drives, SD cards and USB memory sticks) to be connected to the CDJ device via USB. This allows the DJ to make use of the beatmatching capabilities of the CDJ unit whilst playing digital music files from the mp3-player or other storage device.
PITCH & TEMPO The pitch and tempo of a track are normally linked together: spin a disc 5% faster and both pitch and tempo will be 5% higher. However, some modern DJ software can change pitch and tempo independently using time-stretching and pitchshifting, allowing harmonic mixing.
TECHNIQUES The beatmaxing (or beatmatching) technique consists of the following steps: 1. While a record is playing, beatmatch a new record to it, using headphones for monitoring. Use gain (or trim) control on the mixer to match the levels of the two records. 2. Restart and slip-cue the new record at the right time, begin the new record on beat with the record currently playing. Pay attention to track structures; careful phrasing can make the mix seamless.
4. If the beat on the new record hits after the beat on the current record then the new record is too slow, increase the pitch and manually increase the speed of the new record to bring the beats back in sync. 5.Continue this process until the two records are in sync with each other, it can be difficult to sync the two records perfectly, so manual adjustment of the records is necessary to maintain the beat synchronization. 6. Before fading in the new track, check that the beats of two tracks match by listening to both channels together in the headphones, as the sound from the speakers can reach you with a delay. 7. Gradually, fade in parts of the new track while fading out the old track. While in the mix, ensure that the tracks are still synchronized, adjusting the records if needed. 8. The fade can be repeated several times, for example, from the first track, fade to the second track, then back to first, then to second again.
BEAT MATCHIN G
3. If the beat on the new record hits before the beat on the current record then the new record is too fast, reduce the pitch and manually slow the speed of the new record to bring the beats back in sync.
DJ M I XER
DJ MIX ER
DJ M I XER
DJ MIXER SKILLS A DJ mixer is a piece of hardware used by disc jockeys (DJs) to combine audio sources and sound effects during live performances. Beyond allowing the DJ to create his or her own audio through other sources, a DJ mixer makes it easier for a DJ to continuously play music without any downtime, so people keep dancing without interruption or a single moment of silence. In many ways, a DJ mixer unit is similar to other audio mixers, but there are differences in the DJâ€™s equipment that make a DJ mixer special. Most mixers can record audio, allowing the DJ to make an original mix that can be played on cue. The DJ mixer is almost like any other audio mixer. It takes one or more audio sources and applies changes by altering the basic components of the audioâ€™s sound. One of the defining features of a mixer is the crossfader, which acts as two faders colliding with each other. This allows the DJ to quickly transition from one song to the next, fading out one audio source and simultaneously fading in another source. Another defining feature is the ability to feed a non-playing audio source into headphones.
Aside from crossfading, DJ mixers have many other features that allow a DJ to create his or her own mix. There are often a variety of knobs and controls that permit the DJ to change the bass, treble and beat of the audio, along with other basic audio components. Sound effects are normally an afterthought with these units, so the DJ focuses more on mixing pre-existing music rather than adding sound effects, but most units have a few effects that can be used. These effects are typically generic and may be included on many different mixer models. One obvious benefit from using a DJ mixer is that the DJ is able to keep music playing continuously without any downtime. This is done via the crossfader, because it generally allows the audio to decrease in volume for less than a second before picking back up. By using this technique, the DJ can keep people dancing and entertained all night, without there being any party-stopping silence between songs. Another benefit of using a DJ mixer model is that the DJ can create his or her own DJ mixes. While some DJs prefer impromptu performances, others prefer to plan the event and have a list of songs and effects ready. DJ mixers can typically record a mix, so the DJ can have the lineup ready before the event occurs, and he or she can finetune the sound for his or her preference.
DJ MIX ER
TECHNIQUE A DJ mixset is usually performed live in front of an audience in a nightclub, party, or rave setting. Mixsets can also be performed live on radio or recorded in a studio. In live situations, the progression of the DJ set is a dynamic process. The DJ chooses tracks partly in response to the activity on the dance floor. If the dance floor becomes less active, the DJ will make a judgement as to what track will increase dance floor activity. This may involve shifting the tempo or changing the general mood of the set.
Track choices are also due, in part, to where the DJ wishes to take his or her audience. In this way, the resulting mixset is brought about through a symbiotic relationship between audience and DJ. Studio DJs have the luxury of spending more time on their mix, which often leads to productions that could never be realized in real-time.
DJ M I XER
DJs often distribute their recorded mixes on CD-Rs or as digital audio files via websites or podcasts for promotional purposes. Many popular DJs release their mixes commercially on a compact disc. When DJ sets are distributed directly via the Internet, they are generally presented as a single unbroken audio file; cue sheets may be provided by the DJ or fans to allow the set to be burned to a CD, or listened to, as a series of separate tracks in the way it would be produced as a commercial mix.
DJ MIX ER
tHE EARLY HIPHOP Three men usually get the credit for developing DJ technique into naturally employing two turntables, an audio mixer and pairs of identical records playing the same segments over and over. This technique is known as mixing, and is the foundation for understanding what a DJ of today does. DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa all did this in their own fashion at the same time. In the seventies, Grandmaster Flash brought the new style of DJing further than the rest, but they share the early development. Flash also made some changes on the audio mixer that thoroughly revolutionized the new art form: He made a crossfader that could easily switch between the two turntables. Instead of having to use two separate volume controls, the crossfader liberated one hand. If the knob is positioned far left on the fader, the crossfader isolates the sound from the left turntable, and if positioned right it isolates the right turntable. When the knob is in middle position, both sources are played equally loud.
The characteristic sound of scratching was ’innovated’ by Grandwizard Theodore in 1977. Scratching is basically rubbing the vinyl back and forth against the stylus in different patterns and rhythms, and it was this discovery Theodore did when he wanted to keep the record on a particular spot whilst talking to his mother. Because of the strong motor in the preferred turntables (Technics SL1200), the spinning speed is quickly picked up after being stopped, which again makes it easier to move the vinyl in both directions. The first scratch, normally done in eight-notes or triplets in time with the music, is called the baby-scratch. It is the fundamental turntable -technique, even though it doesn’t involve the crossfader on the audio mixer. A big part of scratching takes advantage of the fruit of Grandmaster Flash’s engineering abilities; the crossfader. Instead of using it in his fashion to smoothly move between the sources, it is normally used to abruptly cut the sound on and off. There are two ways of cutting the sound on/ off or in/out: You eitherstart with sound or you start with silence.
Today a turntablist needs to master these techniques just as a violinist needs to master scales. To a trained ear, the different techniques and patterns degenerates almost as tones from a traditional instrument, but for those inexperienced with turntablism it might well all sound the same. The extreme speed of the scratches makes it hard to distinguish one scratch from another when they appear in continuity. It may not be significant to know techniques as listeners, but it will make the listening a bit easier. Most important Internet sites devoted to turntablism offers an array of techniques explained and demonstrated with aid of streaming media; sound and video.
The crossfader allows the turntablist to have one record playing while cutting the sound on the other. With the left turntable playing backing rhythm and the crossfader placed to the left, all that can be heard is the rhythm. By moving the crossfader to the middle, sounds from the right turntable will be cut in, and this is the method used for scratching. Since 1977 there has always surfaced new scratches and new ways to manipulate records, most of them increasing the speed.
MORE THAN HIPHOP So far I have concerned with hip -hop DJing. This is done because of several reasons: It was hip-hop that made turntablism possible, it is hip-hop that has procreated all the various techniques, in hip-hop all the techniques have been so entwined that they form a language, and most of all; hip-hop DJing is the only kind of turntablism that is discussed and reflected upon at all. Hip-hop, though, should be understood as more than rapping, breakdancing and graffiti. It is also a way of thinking music, an aesthetic in its own right. Further do many turntablists have their background in hip-hop, without really living or practicing hip-hop when we think of baggy pants, skateboards and a fetish for gold necklaces. New turntable-bands are born every day, and more people involve themselves in theorizing (both consciously and accidentally) the concept of manipulating and re-using old recordings. But there can be found turntablism outside the hiphop tradition. As mentioned earlier, the turntable is about to manifest itself as the most influential new instrument, and it spreads to all kinds of music. To name one example of that, synthesizers are now shipped with readymade “scratch sounds”.
Almost every new dance hit or hit single has the wicka-wicka sound. Turntablism not rooted in hip-hop DJing doesn’t follow the rather strict rules of mastering and employing certain techniques and canonized samples. The history of using the turntables for making new music dates back to Paul Hindemith, Ernest Toch, Percy Grainger, Edgar Varèse and Darius Milhaud in the twenties, but the first important attempt was John Cage’s Imaginary Landscapes #1 from 1939. His means of manipulating was adjusting the rotation speed when playing monophonic tones (RCA test tones). The next step, musique concrète, introduced the ‘father’ of vinyl manipulation, Pierre Schaeffer. He claimed to have found the music of the future and foresaw an ensemble of turntables. Because the record player is able to produce any desired sound, the turntable represented the ultimate musician. After the first few pieces made on turntables – most known is his Etude aux Chemins de Fer from 1948 – the recording studio itself became the most interesting instrument. Pierre Henry, Schaeffer’s associate and student, sums up the idea of musique concrète:
There are two stages to musique concrète: first, isolating sounds, giving a new beginning and a new end to something that already exists; and secondly, expanding, transforming and transposing them in the recording studio.
Marclay grounded upon Cage and Schaeffer, but focused even stronger on the concept of noise. As sculptor, the wearing (both natural and arranged) of vinyl still remains a basis for presenting and representing music. He cuts up records and glues them back together, and he lets people walk on the records before he uses them. Footsteps is a ‘record’ of his, but not in the normal sense: 3500 vinyl records were used as flooring at an artexhibition for six weeks, packed in covers
After believing the studio could realize their musical and compositional ambitions to a higher degree, Henry and Schaeffer did not pay the turntable as much attention as before, and as it turned out; no one did. Until Christian Marclay, Schaeffer’s endeavors went unnoticed. Christian Marclay is the most influential figure outside hip-hop, but his background is not music, he was a sculptor and a performance artist, with clear references to the Fluxus movement. His turntablistic career began in 1979 in a duo with guitarist Kurt Henry. This is probably also the first time a turntable interacts with other instruments.
and then sold. Thus Marclay reminds us of the tertiary quality of a secondary representation of music. Christian Marclay is no virtuoso compared to the turntablist standard, but he has definitely developed skills in cutting and pasting music, making it a real-time, audible collage. Many have been influenced by this experimentalist, and today numerous turntablists not playing in the hip-hop kind of way also gains recognition. Alongside Marclay in the eighties were Japanese Otomo Yoshihide, Canadian Martin Tétreault and American David Shea. These four had not much in common except for getting the attention from John Zorn. On several occasions, Zorn has collaborated with them all, and he has arranged musical meetings between hip-hop DJs and these non-hip-hop ones. Roughly said, there were two directions of turntablism during the eighties and early nineties, one rooted in hiphop and one rooted in perfomanceelectroacousticavantgardisticimprovisation- based art.The hip-hop branch can be said to evolve without interference from the other branch, while the other must have been inflected strongly by the hip-hop DJs in that hip-hop earned massive public attention through media. In the last few years, the struggle for promoting the hip -hop turntablism has made the paths cross, and it is no longer a sensation when a hip -hop turntablist play with a rock band or at an art exhibition. Furthermore newcomers dive right into the former gray-zone between hip-hop and the experimental music. This is a new phenomenon, and the trend is still in its first phase.
ELECTRONI C MUS IC
ELECTRONI C MUS IC
The introduction of the Telharmonium in the early twentieth century by Dr Thaddeus Cahill gave the world its first electronic instrument. The Telharmonium was a cumbersome instrument which was originally designed to transmit electronically generated tones from a ‘central station to translating instruments, located at different points in nearby concert halls. Cahill’s plan was to build an ‘electronic music device and pipe live music to remote locations’ with the aid of telephone signals. The Telharmonium was essentially a pianolike, keyboard based, tone generator which allowed the user to shape and envelope sounds dynamically. Due to this, the coining of the term synthesis can be attributed to Cahill, to describe what he was doing, in terms of combining ‘individual tones to create composite sounds’, as was described in his original patents for the Telharmonium. Performances from the instrument were aired over telephone wires, to nearby concert halls, and although it was an initial success and provided interest for composers of the day, the instrument was largely an impractical mass of machinery, ‘60 feet wide, 20 feet tall and weighs 200 tons’ . This, along with the financial aspect of building and maintaining such a machine, made it redundant. The practice of performing over telephone wires was also made obsolete with the invention of the triode (a vacuum tube that allows the transmission of sound through electrical signals) around 1906, which heralded a new beginning for electronic instruments.
These instruments no longer had to rely on the technology of telephone signals to transmit or perform music. This technology resulted in the creation of more compact instruments, which resulted in more accessible Electronic Music instruments, for the public and audience alike, as they could now see the instruments which were producing the audio. Instruments like the Theremin, developed by Leon Theremin, and ‘We want to lie down and let the Ondes Martenot, the machines get on with it. produced by Maurice We want to slack off a bit. Martenot, began to We’ve got the acronym DNAemerge: the ethereal ROM which stands for “do no sounds of such instruart – run our machine”. ments, contributed to the eerie soundscape of this period in Electronic Music history. Toward the end of the forties, the sonic terrain of Electronic Music was beginning to change. Opposed from the purely synthesised sounds of the early pioneers of Electronic Music, such as Thaddeus Cahill or Leon Theremin, a new ideology was born in Music Concrète, where one did not need synthesis to compose ‘music’. Pierre Schaeffer began utilising sound samples, as opposed to traditional instrumentation, as material for compositions. ‘1948 to 1951 – European composers broke through the ‘sound barrier’ into two, initially quite distinct, areas of electronic music: the French variety, music concrète, which used sounds of an everyday acoustic or environmental origin, and Electronische Musik, the German brand which used only electronically generated sounds as its raw (or rather, smooth) material’
The basis for the next thirty years in Electronic Music had been cast.
The make-up and desires of the artist were changing. The focus begin to shift from the pioneering electronic artists and composers of the early 1900s, whose revolutionary research and inventions changed Electronic Music. Now, artists and producers had machines to make the sounds for them and cared little for the inner workings of their machines as Matt Black , of Breakbeat artists Coldcut, explains
The thirst for knowledge in Electronic Music, led young composers to seek out institutions like the GRM or the Cologne Electronic Music Studio, to gain more insight into the technical and musical processes of Electronic Music. Aside from the institutionalised realm of Electronic Music, there were important and historic developments happening. The evolution of the Moog synthesiser (created by Bob Moog, an avid fan of Leon Theremin and subsequent manufacturer of the instrument) gave Wendy Carlos the means to produce the first completely synthesised record, using the Moog. Her 1968 album, Switched On Bach, in which she interpreted some of Johann Sebastian Bach’s keyboard music, ‘became the top selling album at that time’ and ‘dragged the synthesiser by its patch cords out of the chilly atmosphere of academic electronic music studios into the spotlight of public awareness’ (ibid).
The concepts and ideologies in synthesised music and Musique Concrète, became co-opted by the underground movements, most notably Hip-Hop. The idea of recontextualising sound samples with the use of turntables became a notable characteristic of Hip-Hop in the early seventies, as the DJ gained rock-star status. Away from the academic institutes, which researched the processes in Electronic Music, Hip-Hop artists and DJs were re-contextualising earlier funk and soul records, creating new compo sitions with technical processes such as scratching and beat juggling. The ethos of the counter culture instilled by genres such as Hip-Hop followed through to the early nineties and was helped by the production of pieces of hardware such as the Akai range of samplers and Roland’s hugely influential range of synths and drum-machines such as the TB 303 or TR-808.
IN THE BEGINNING
which begins to ensue this notion of ‘art music’ within the domain of found sound composition. After experiments in the field of ‘found sound composition’, the Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (RTF) funded Schaeffer and Pierre Henry in order to assist them in setting up their own studio. Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) established a studio where one could hear lectures on Musique Concrète and also have the opportunity to compose.
ELECTRONI C MUS IC
This contrasts greatly with the earlier reference to the art involved in making Tape Music and the meticulous technical processes involved in the composition of early Electronic Music. Throughout the last three decades, it seems that as the hardware became more accessible to the commercial market, one did not need to know the concepts behind the device. Regardless of how negative this might be, this ideology contributed to some of the boldest musical and cultural revolutions in history and one could view this as a primary point as to why this dichotomy emerged within Electronic Music, in content and context.