Saturday, April 26, 2008

Beatboxing with Scratching?!


This dude seems to have swallowed a Technics 1200 and a Roland TR808 drum machine. Send help immediately! *ambulence siren sound*

More beatboxing examples here.

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posted by Brian at 9:15 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, January 25, 2008

My DJ Education Continues

Last year I took a DJ 101 class at the Scratch Academy after work to avoid the horrendous traffic between Santa Monica and Hollywood. Tried the next level class but found that they were trying to teach two many skills at the same time: beatmatching, vinyl hunting, and song selection. It was just too much for me and I dropped out about half way. It would be way cool if they taught beatmatching class where they provided you with the song list, and everybody focused on just getting them to flow into one another. That alone takes a lot of practice! Trying to do that when you're hunting for records, not knowing exactly what tempos they will be, getting them home, then finding the tempos are two far apart... starting over... and then going to class being expected to have your chain of songs with one added song each week, practiced and sounding good. Aaaaah! Too much.

But now I'm at it again. Familiar faces from 101 class are in my DJ 202 Scratching class taught by the acclaimed DJ Shortee, the most famous female DJ and scratch master (featured in the Hip Hop documentary movie Scratch). So far, it's great! Much easier for me to learn with specific drills that we do together and then sequentially.

Of course, to practice reliably I need a turntable and a good quality, scratch-worthy needle, like the Shure M477 or M44G. So this week I've been looking for a used Technics turntable and a mixer. Missed a few good deals on Craigslist last week, but finally a single, black Technics 1200 Mk2 in excellent condition showed up for a very good price. Even better, it included a good (albeit older model) Stanton Battle-mixer. Tonight, it's mine! Whohoo!

Now the tricky part... how to set it up properly.

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posted by Brian at 8:46 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Serato LIVE is the Atari 2600 of Digital Turntable Systems

As I start up my DJ class again (this time focusing on scratch techniques), I am pondering which of the numerous software/hardware systems -- designed to allow old-school DJ turntablists to work with digital music files on a laptop instead of crates full of vinyl -- to get.

It occurs to me that Serato LIVE is the Atari 2600, Native Instruments Traktor Scratch is the Mattel Intellivision, and M-Audio Torq is the ColecoVision of digital turntable systems. Why? The Atari 2600 was not especially pretty but it worked well, had all the great games, and EVERYBODY had one. Intellivision was technologically much more advanced but it had a quirky interface and never got as popular, while the Colecovision was even more advanced but ... well that's where my analogy may not be perfect. I don't know enough about the Torq :P

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posted by Brian at 6:36 PM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rainy Tuesday & Thoughts of Turntables Spinning In My Head

One of the hazards of any new hobby you may start is "Gear Lust." For me, right now, that lustworthy object is the Turntable, the modern term for a phonograph or record player.

Before my DJ class, these were delicate, antique devices irrelevant in today's world except for those with shelves full of old 12" LP records, or props used in hip music videos. Now I understand clearly -- turntables are the "stick-shift" of controlling the playback of music. Sure, you can do "automatic" with your laptop or even those tiny performance CD turntables. But what you really want is the raw power, the torque and feel of a pair of over-built spinning wheels of sound.

Everyone says Technics is the best. It's in 90+% of the clubs out there, apparently. Though according to some reviews, the other brands like Numark, Vestax and Stanton have caught up with equal or surpassing turntables.

I'm a newbie though. I could get by with a discount kit meant for "bedroom DJing". (This is an actual term! Why do DJs practice in their bedrooms?? Not the kitchen, dining room, parlor, basement or garage, hence the term "garage band"? If one gets "turntable" as a weapon in the game CLUE, you can be sure it's a DJ in the bedroom?)

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posted by Brian at 5:38 PM 0 comments links to this post