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date: 15 December 2019


  • Will Fulton


A hip-hop music technique of creating musical sounds using a turntable by manually pulling and pushing a record rapidly under the phonograph’s stylus. Scratching is commonly thought to have been invented c1975 by GrandWizzard Theodore [Theodore Livingston] (b 1962), then a protégé of DJ Grandmaster Flash (b 1958). Flash, DJ Jazzy Jay (b 1961), Red Alert [Fred Crute] (b 1956), and others popularized the technique at community events in the 1970s as part of a crowd-pleasing DJ performance called “scratch-and-mix.”

Scratching is often used in two ways: what Flash called “the rub,” in which a DJ prepares to transition from one record to another by rubbing the record back and forth in an 8th- or 16th-note pattern before releasing the record spin in tempo; and what is sometimes described as “cutting,” which involves adding an improvised rhythm atop an established groove to create a new polyrhythmic layer. Both techniques pair the use of the turntable with a mixer, allowing the DJ to render only desired sounds audible and create more intricate rhythmic patterns....

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