Turntablism – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Genres Glossary

I. What is Turntablism?

Turntablism is a form of art and musical expression that involves the manipulation of sounds and music using turntables and a DJ mixer. It is a unique style of DJing that goes beyond simply playing and mixing tracks, focusing instead on the use of scratching, beat juggling, and other advanced techniques to create new and innovative sounds. Turntablists are often considered to be musicians in their own right, using the turntable as their instrument to create music in real-time.

II. History of Turntablism

Turntablism has its roots in hip-hop culture, particularly in the early days of hip-hop in the 1970s and 1980s. DJs such as Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc, and Afrika Bambaataa were pioneers in the art of DJing, using turntables to manipulate and mix records to create new and exciting sounds. The introduction of the Technics SL-1200 turntable in the late 1970s revolutionized the art of DJing, making it easier for DJs to perform advanced scratching and mixing techniques.

In the 1990s, turntablism gained mainstream popularity with the rise of artists such as DJ Qbert, Mix Master Mike, and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz. These artists pushed the boundaries of what was possible with turntables, showcasing their technical skills and creativity in competitions and performances around the world. Turntablism has since evolved into a respected art form with its own community of dedicated artists and fans.

III. Techniques and Skills in Turntablism

Turntablism involves a wide range of techniques and skills that allow DJs to manipulate sounds and create music in real-time. Some of the most common techniques used in turntablism include scratching, beat juggling, needle dropping, and body tricks. Scratching involves moving a record back and forth on the turntable to create rhythmic patterns and sounds, while beat juggling involves manipulating two records to create complex rhythms and patterns.

Needle dropping is a technique where the DJ drops the needle on a specific part of a record to create a specific sound or effect, while body tricks involve using the body to manipulate the turntable and create unique sounds. Turntablists often spend hours practicing and perfecting these techniques, honing their skills to create seamless and innovative performances.

IV. Equipment Used in Turntablism

The primary equipment used in turntablism includes turntables, DJ mixers, and vinyl records. Turntables are the central piece of equipment, allowing DJs to manipulate and control the speed and direction of the record. DJ mixers are used to blend and mix multiple tracks together, while vinyl records are used to create the sounds and music that DJs manipulate.

In addition to these basic pieces of equipment, turntablists often use a variety of accessories such as slipmats, needles, and vinyl cleaning supplies to enhance their performances. Many turntablists also use digital equipment such as MIDI controllers and software to expand their creative possibilities and incorporate digital sounds into their performances.

V. Notable Turntablists

There have been many notable turntablists throughout the history of the art form, each bringing their own unique style and creativity to the craft. Some of the most influential turntablists include DJ Qbert, Mix Master Mike, DJ Shadow, Grandmaster Flash, and A-Trak. These artists have pushed the boundaries of what is possible with turntables, showcasing their technical skills and creativity in performances and competitions around the world.

Many turntablists have also collaborated with other musicians and artists, incorporating turntablism into a wide range of musical genres and styles. Turntablism has influenced a new generation of DJs and producers, inspiring them to explore new ways of creating music and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with turntables.

VI. Influence of Turntablism on Music Industry

Turntablism has had a significant influence on the music industry, shaping the way that DJs and producers approach creating and performing music. The technical skills and creativity of turntablists have inspired a new generation of artists to explore new ways of using technology and equipment to create innovative sounds and music.

Turntablism has also influenced the way that music is produced and performed, with many artists incorporating scratching and other turntablism techniques into their music. The art form has become a respected and recognized part of the music industry, with turntablists performing at major music festivals and events around the world.

Overall, turntablism has had a lasting impact on the music industry, inspiring artists and fans alike to explore new ways of creating and experiencing music. The art form continues to evolve and grow, with new generations of turntablists pushing the boundaries of what is possible with turntables and DJ equipment.