There once was a time were every DJ had to work everything out for themselves because either certain things hadn’t been worked out yet or DJs didn’t want to share their latest trick. These days however there are many great resources to bring budding new DJs up to speed.
Here I just want to list a few of these resources which I have found to be the most useful and I think that they would help any DJ wanting to learn new skills.
Qberts DIY Scratching Vol 1 (DVD)
If you want to learn to scratch this is most definitely where you want to begin. DJ Qbert explains all the basic scratches plus some advanced techniques and gives you a chance to practice them with him. He explains each scratch clearly demonstrates it for you, you also have the option of switching camera angles to get a better view of what is happening. All this is presented with Qbert’s brand of humour so expect puppets, masks and sillyness too.
Follow ups to DIY vol 1
Qbert has followed this DVD up with DIY vol 2 but that DVD isn’t really as helpful, it’s more of a practice aid as it explains nothing new but rather gives you the chance to scratch with various other DJs. This is pretty useless if you are around other DJs who you can session with but if you live is an isolated area and you’re holding up the scratch scene on your own then this may be of some use to you.
The better follow up to DIY vol 1 is Qbert’s recently release Skratchlopedia Breaktanica DVD which shows more advanced techniques and combos not seen of DIY vol 1, sadly they are not presented or explained as well but still might be of some interest.
Shure Turntablism 101 (VHS)
OK I know videos are a thing of the past and many people probably don’t own a video player any more, however if beat juggling or trick mixing interest you then you have to watch this (even though it is a video it still seems to be available if you search online).
This video has 10 different DJs explaining one of their juggles, routines or signature tricks and for someone new to juggling there is nothing better (except maybe this website haha).
The first DJ you see is Rob Swift, he explains his James Brown Funky Drummer juggle, this is one of the most valuable sections of the video as he explains and demonstrate many of the basic such as looping, tapping, speeding up and the one two pattern.
The other DJs on this video are Mixmaster Mike who gives you a bit of an insight into his crazy turntable style including the tweak scratch and the DJ part of 3 MCs and 1 DJ by the Beastie Boys. Roc Raida shows you how to do all his signature body tricks, even if this is not your thing it’s still good fun to watch. Mista Sinista, Rhettmatic and Roli Rho each break down and explain one of their juggles. Total Eclipse explains and demonstrates a juggle with the record playing at 45. J-Rocc explains trick mixing (Beat Junkie style of course). P-Trix explains faderless juggles and shows one of his routines. And Big Wiz talks about using effects.
Skatchcon 2000 (DVD)
Video footage of the Skratchcon DJ conference held in 2000. This DVD is not as specific as the DIY Scratching DVD or Shure Turntablism 101 Video and it also covers some of the same stuff. There is however some useful stuff which should be checked out.
J Rocc explains trick mixing in much the same way as the in the Shure Turntablism 101 video but you also get Mello D’s take on it too which is a nice addition.
You get some more insight into how some of the different scratches came about, 8 Ball talks about tone scratching & making melodies using the pitch control, A Track talks about scratch notation (TTM), DJ Craze Battles himself and more…
Scratch The Movie (DVD)
The movie itself is a documentary film about the birth and evolution of hip-hop DJs, scratching & turntablism. It includes lots of interesting footage of various DJs who were instrumental in the develpment of the scene as well as some great footage of routines & performances. You many not learn a whole lot of new techniques from this film but you will learn a lot about how the scene came about.
There are also some great extras on this DVD. There is a scratch routine by DJ Babu which is just nice to watch. Then there is How To Rock A Party by DJ Z-Trip which includes topics like BPMing your tunes, marking your records and extending the break. There is also a video of DJ Radar using a loop pedal, this is a really good example of how a loop pedal can be used. And finally there is a video of Rob Swift perfoming a little scratch routine with scratch notation so you can see how it works. These are some very nice extras.
DJ Tutor (Website)
This is a website full of fantastic videos from Johnathon aka ellaskins which clearly explain everything a beginner DJ could possibly want to know from music structure to beat matching to using different equipment to turntablism. Everything is covered and it is all explain in such a way that no one should be left scratching their head.
The website can be found here DJ Tutor.
SkratchWorx is an independant blog about DJ equipment, it’s definitely the place to look if you are considering buying some new toys! While it’s kind of scratching oriented in reality there’s loads of up to date info on there for all types of DJs and not just on DJ equipment either. All DJ and gear whores should check this site at least once a week!
The website can be found here SkratchWorx.
If you don’t know what YouTube is then you must have been asleep for the last 3 years. When it comes to DJing and turntablism there are thousands of great videos on there so you should definitely have a search on there.
Things to search for would be your favourite DJs, scratch techniques, freestyle scratching, etc.
Also if DJing isn’t your only hobby you should have a bit of a search for your other interests to, YouTube has thousands of videos covering just about everything.
The website can be found here YouTube.
Finally if you can’t find the answer you are after written or in a video then why not ask someone! There are many great communities online for DJs and many very skilled DJs post on some of these.
A few of my favourite forums are…
- DigitalVertigo which is a great UK forum, pretty much any DJ question can be answered here as well as technical problems with your computer or random banter.
- The SkratchLounge, this is the forum for the SkratchWorx site, it’s a bit more serious than DigitalVertigo but you will definitely get good answers here.
- DJ Forums is a big forum to cover all aspects of DJing and DJ culture, check it out.
- DJ Pages is this official message board for the DMC, it’s not the most active but certainly useful at times…especially for DMC related chat.
- The Serato ScratchLive forum is a must for ScratchLive users, if you own Serato ScratchLive or are considering getting it then you should sign up here.
I hope some of you have found this useful!