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The acoustics and performance of DJ scratching: analysis and modeling
KTH Royal Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4259-484X
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on the analysis and modeling of scratching, in other words, the DJ (disk jockey) practice of using the turntable as a musical instrument. There has been experimental use of turntables as musical instruments since their invention, but the use is now mainly ascribed to the musical genre hip-hop and the playing style known as scratching. Scratching has developed to become a skillful instrument-playing practice with complex musical output performed by DJs. The impact on popular music culture has been significant, and for many, the DJ set-up of turntables and a mixer is now a natural instrument choice for undertaking a creative music activity. Six papers are included in this thesis, where the first three approach the acoustics and performance of scratching, and the second three approach scratch modeling and the DJ interface. Additional studies included here expand on the scope of the papers.

For the acoustics and performance studies, DJs were recorded playing both demonstrations of standard performance techniques, and expressive performances on sensor-equipped instruments. Analysis of the data revealed that there are both differences and commonalities in playing strategies between musicians, and between expressive intentions. One characteristic feature of scratching is the range of standard playing techniques, but in performances it seems DJs vary the combination of playing techniques more than the rendering of these techniques. The third study describes some of the acoustic parameters of typical scratch improvisations and looks at which musical parameters are typically used for expressive performances. Extracted acoustic and performance parameters from the data show the functional ranges within which DJs normally play.

Unlike traditional musical instruments, the equipment used for scratching was not intended to be used for creating music. The interface studies focus on traditional as well as new interfaces for DJs, where parameter mappings between input gestures and output signal are described. Standard performance techniques have been modeled in software called Skipproof, based on results from the first papers. Skipproof was used for testing other types of controllers than turntables, where complex DJ gestures could be manipulated using simplified control actions, enabling even non-experts to play expressively within the stylistic boundaries of DJ scratching. The last paper describes an experiment of using an existing hardware platform, the Reactable, to help designing and prototyping the interaction between different sound models and instrument interfaces, including scratching and Skipproof.

In addition to the included papers, studies were conducted of expressivity, description of the emotional contents of scratching, DJ playing activities, and the coupling between playing techniques and sample. The physical affordances of the turntable, mixer and samples, as well as genre conventions of hip-hop, are assumed to explain some of the findings that distinguish scratching from other instrumental sounds or practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm, Sweden: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2010. , 74 p.
Series
, Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2010:01
Keyword [en]
scratching
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25396ISBN: 978-91-7415-541-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-25396DiVA: diva2:769635
Available from: 2014-12-12 Created: 2014-12-08 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The basics of scratching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The basics of scratching
2002 (English)In: Journal of New Music Research, ISSN 0929-8215, E-ISSN 1744-5027, Vol. 31, no 4, 357-365 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25478 (URN)10.1076/jnmr.31.4.357.14171 (DOI)000183144100006 ()
Available from: 2014-12-12 Created: 2014-12-12 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved
2. Analysis of a genuine scratch performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Analysis of a genuine scratch performance
2003 (English)In: Gesture-based communication in human-computer interaction: 5th International Gesture Workshop, GW 2003 : Genova, Italy, April 2003 : selected revised papers / [ed] Antonio Camurri, Gualtiero Volpe, New York: Springer, 2003, 519-528 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Springer, 2003
Series
, Lecture notes in artificial intelligence, ISSN 0302-9743 ; 2915
National Category
Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25477 (URN)10.1007/978-3-540-24598-8_48 (DOI)000189451300048 ()2-s2.0-7444242121 (ScopusID)3-540-21072-5 (ISBN)
Conference
5th International Workshop on Gesture-Based Communication in Human-Computer Interaction, Genova, ITALY, April 15-17, 2003.
Available from: 2014-12-12 Created: 2014-12-12 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. Analysis of the acoustics and playing strategies of turntable scratching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Analysis of the acoustics and playing strategies of turntable scratching
2011 (English)In: Acta Acoustica united with Acustica, ISSN 1610-1928, E-ISSN 1861-9959, Vol. 97, no 2, 303-314 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Keyword
scratching
National Category
Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25449 (URN)10.3813/AAA.918410 (DOI)000288130700014 ()2-s2.0-79952119561 (ScopusID)
Available from: 2014-12-12 Created: 2014-12-12 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved
4. Mapping strategies in DJ scratching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mapping strategies in DJ scratching
2006 (English)In: NIME '06 Proceedings of the 2006 conference on New interfaces for musical expression, Paris: IRCAM , 2006, 188-191 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

For 30 years Disc Jockeys have been expressing their musical ideas with scratching. Unlike many other popular instruments, the equipment used for scratching is not built as one single unit, and it was not intended to be a musical instrument. This paper gives an overview of how DJs use their turntable, vinyl record and audio mixer in junction to produce scratch music. Their gestural input to the instrument is explained by looking at the mapping principles between the controller parameters and the audio output parameters. Implications are discussed for the design of new interfaces with examples of recent innovations and experiments in the field.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Paris: IRCAM, 2006
National Category
Computer and Information Science Music
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25479 (URN)2-84426-314-3 (ISBN)
Conference
NIME'06, Paris, June 4-8, 2006.
Available from: 2010-01-26 Created: 2014-12-12 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved
5. The Skipproof Virtual Turntable for High-level Control of Scratching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Skipproof Virtual Turntable for High-level Control of Scratching
2010 (English)In: Computer music journal, ISSN 0148-9267, E-ISSN 1531-5169, Vol. 34, no 2, 39-50 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Keyword
scratching, KFH
National Category
Computer Science Musicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25444 (URN)10.1162/comj.2010.34.2.39 (DOI)000279398400003 ()2-s2.0-77954680435 (ScopusID)
Available from: 2014-12-12 Created: 2014-12-12 Last updated: 2015-02-13Bibliographically approved
6. Using the Reactable as experimental interface for instrument design prototyping
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using the Reactable as experimental interface for instrument design prototyping
(English)In: Organised Sound, ISSN 1355-7718, E-ISSN 1469-8153Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This paper describes an experiment of using an existing hardware platform, the Reactable, to help designing the interaction between three different sound models and instrument interfaces. The aim was to test if prototyping could be facilitated by interacting with models of control actions derivedfrom performance gestures on an intermediate interface. The Reactable isa tangible table-top electronic musical instrument, and the software models include a DJ scratch interface, a virtual turntable, a physics-based sound model representing a bow-and-string interaction, and a physics-based friction sound model for sonification of the user gestures. The interaction was evaluated by two experts: one Reactable musician and one DJ. Their task was to practice expressive, musical performances. Data from the performers were collected through questionnaires and video recordings. The advantages of usinga single, versatile, hardware setup as a designer tool for various interface tasks are discussed. It is suggested how this hardware can be described as an alternative mapping layer.

National Category
Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25480 (URN)
Note

As manuscript in dissertation

Available from: 2010-01-26 Created: 2014-12-12 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved

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Fulltexthttp://www.speech.kth.se/~kjetil/thesis/

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Hansen, Kjetil Falkenberg
Human Computer Interaction

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