Popular Music Studies
Online ISSN : 1883-5945
Print ISSN : 1343-9251
ISSN-L : 1343-9251
A Musical Analysis of DJ Performances in Turntablism
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2003 Volume 7 Pages 15-34


“Turntablism” could be defined as a musical genre in which DJs claim that the turntables they operate are “musical instruments”. In this paper I discuss the concept of “turntables as musical instruments” through the analysis of DJ performances. For this purpose I devised my original notational system which facilitates transcription of the DJ's body movements along with the musical sounds.
The analysis of the performances using techniques such as “scratch” and “beat juggling” shows that the sound patterns reflect the DJ's motor patterns. An understanding of this relationship, gained through watching or practice, as opposed to just listening, gives deeper insight into its musical construction. In this sense, the musical style of turntablism is not simply that of sound itself, but also that of related musical experiences, including performing and listening. In conclusion, this insight makes it natural for those who enjoy turntablist performances, both DJs and listeners, to consider the turntables as “musical instruments”.

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