From Academic Kids
Scratching is a DJ or turntablist technique originated by Grand Wizard Theodore, an early hip hop DJ from New York (AMG). The technique is designed to accentuate the work of the DJ by creating an assortment of sounds through the rhythmical manipulation of a vinyl record, and has spread from hip hop culture to a number of other musical forms. Within hip hop culture, scratching is still of great importance in determining the skill of a DJ, and a number of competitions are held across the globe in which DJs battle one another in displays of great virtuosity.
Sounds and technique
A simple (or baby) scratch is performed by moving a vinyl record back and forth with your 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. Ideally, scratching does not damage a record because the needle stays within the groove and does not move horizontally across the record's surface. Theodore developed scratching from DJ Grandmaster Flash, 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) Kool Herc was also an important early figure.
There are many different types of scratch, including tear, flare, orbit, twiddle, crab, tweak, chirp, and scribble scratches. The names can indicate the scratch's sound, required hand motions and equipment set up, or the name of the DJ who developed it. Recently, DJs and turntablists have begun developing systems of notation for use in learning different scratches and writing compositions. The practice is not yet widespread.
Sounds that are frequently scratched include but are not limited to drum beats, horn stabs, spoken word samples, and lines from other songs. Any sound recorded to vinyl can be used, though a new generation of CD players providing a turntable-like interface has recently reached the market, allowing DJs to scratch not only material that was never released on vinyl, but also field recordings and samples from television and movies that have been burned to CD-R. Some DJs and anonymous collectors release 12-inch singles called battle records that include trademark, novel or hard-to-find scratch fodder. Some DJs prefer to rotate the turntable 90 degrees counter-clockwise in an orientation known as "Battle-style" to put the tonearm of the turntable at the top, furthest away from the DJ. This frees up more of the platter to manipulation without interfering with the needle.
Scratching outside hip hop
For recording use, samplers are often used instead of physically scratching a vinyl record.
- All Music Guide's Grand Wizard Theodore biography (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&uid=UIDSUB040402070125133172&sql=B6sxsa93gi23a) (also at Artist Direct (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/music/artist/bio/0,,853362,00.html?artist=Grand%2bWizard%2bTheodore))
- DJ Grandmaster Flash quoted in Toop, David (1991). Rap Attack 2, 65. New York: Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1852422432.
- Turntablist Transcription Methodology (http://www.ttmethod.com/)
- Turntablist resources (http://www.turntablism.info/)
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