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Kjetil Falkenberg Hansen - The techniques of scratching

Kjetil comes from the KTH Computer Science and Communication where he is a PhD researcher. He burns for scratching and loves the sound but after practicing for an hour he decided that he was no longer interested in learning to scratch. His interests are in scratch analysis and interface design. He shows us a fascinating video of his own practice which centres on the designing interfaces for new scratch style music.

Kjetil outlined the mix of old and new technology that makes up turntablism. He claims that hip-hop has demanded a new form of instrument that is now concerned not just with rhythm but also melody. On the topic of the turntable metaphor, differing from Taku he does not believe in the rotating disc metaphor for media playback. He believes that scratching has reached a turning point in popularity after its high in the 90s.

He has a problem with the idea of a turntable as one instrument as it is capable of so many different things. Kjetil is interested in the repertoire and tradition of turntablism music. He asserts that referential style is common strict copying from other is frowned upon (no one likes it when someone samples 12 bars from a Clash song and ruins it ;-) In terms of research he outlines the work of T. Lippit, S.Smith, T. Beamish et al who make up the group have made any in depth reserch on the topic.

Kjetil outlined that the physiological aspects of turntable performance are a fertile area for study as when he has in the past asked turntablists to practice ‘angry’ scratching their blood pressure rises. Kjetil then informed us about the wide plethora of scratch moves that make up the canon of turntablism moves. With over 100 individual moves only some are considered compulsory for inclusion within hip-hop’s turntablism community. The role of definition and its strictness within turntablism is interesting to Kjetil as he outlines with his example about flame war that would break out if he posted in a forum claiming to have invented the crab !

In terms of scientific analysis of the gesture and sound of scratching Kjetil has some interesting graphs to show us. Moving on to the issue of notation Kjetil shows us the little used grid based style of TTM’s scratch notation.

Kjetil is hopeful for the future of scratching as it sounds so good. He thinks that scratching will never take the place of the guitar but rather continue to find its own place as a unique instrument. Kjetil finishes making the statement that scratching deserves to be taken seriously.

For more details see Kjetil’s papers from NIME and ICMC.




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