Scratch and Scribble

This time on the MMiXdown, Elan Vytal aka DJ Scientific takes some time out to tell us about TTM (Turntablist Transcription Method), a system of notating and arranging DJ sampling, scratching and effects. But instead of notes on a staff, the marks show samples, where to backspin or when your mix fader needs to come up or down in a particular measure.

Elan has been using TTM in his collaborative work with live musicians, especially string quartets, and documents his compositions with TTM. As he describes it, TTM has helped him share his technique with musicians looking  to expand the sonic vocabulary of their instruments, by showing them how to mimic the DJ’s physical moves and rhythms in their own playing. He also finds it useful when teaching a younger generation to use turntables for the first time.

Developed in 2006, TTM was founded by film-maker John Carluccio in collaboration with a wide community of renowned DJs and turntablists, including Rob Swift, Qbert, Babu and Apollo; industrial designer Ethan Boden; and DJ Raedawn, who had been independently developing a transcription method for complex scratching and combined his efforts with John and Ethan. In the late nineties, John Carluccio created the documentary, Battlesounds, which documented the rise of the hip-hop scratch DJ, and the grassroots community of turnablists working to develop the art form.

On TTM’s web-page you can find tutorials, audio demos, sample notations and tips from renowned turntablists, opening up DJ technique to other disciplines and applications. As Elan says, these sounds won’t be limited to just dance clubs and party circuits. “Hopefully future DJ’s can take what I’m doing to the next level and beyond.”

– Jocelyn

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