Two Turntables and A Couple More Things… (part 3)

Until October 24, Grover is giving away the perfect DJ Starter Pack!

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Included in the gear you could win free for 6 months are two Pioneer CDJ-350s. These decks are each valued at over $500.00, and you can get other decks in this series from Grover for only $80.00/month, or win 6 months free from the Grover for Musicians promo!

From the turn of the 21st century to now, a lot more equipment for DJs has been made available. Due in part to the growing popularity of electronic music and the accessibility of these tools, DJing has become a common hobby for the hardcore music fan, to the point of ridiculousness:

“My mother is a DJ, my brother is a DJ, my girlfriend is a DJ…

Despite the popularity of the hobby, the technical skill and artistry of turtablism is still hard to achieve for most DJs. As you can see in this clip of DJ Rasp at the IDA World Finals in 2015, modern turntablists use a lot of the same hand motions and techniques that go back to Kool DJ Herc and Grandmaster Flash in the 1970s. They also have a lot of additional knobs to twist and digital samples available to throw into the mix:

Another modern offshoot of turntablism, called “contollerism,” refers to the many different devices manipulable to mix sounds. As with turntablism, artists use these devices in unexpected ways to create their own sounds. The term was coined in 2005 by Matt Moldover and Julie Covello (also known as DJ Shakey) at that year’s Burning Man Festival, and Moldover subsequently created the now-defunct community at Controllerism.com to define the genre. Watch DJ Angelo combine some of the classic turntablist techniques with MIDI controlling and sampling his own voice (but skip the intro, the real performance starts at 0:55):

One of the most famous controller players is Shawn Wasabi, whose live mashup Marble Soda went viral in 2015. He’s playing a MIDI controller with a total of 153 song samples. How he can keep track of all of them is impossible to tell:

Imogen Heap, an artist known for her vocals and dense electronic multi-tracking, has developed a new type of controller with the help of a team of electronics engineers. Her gloves can be used to trigger and manipulate many of her electronic instruments and computer effects with hand gestures and body positioning. She talks about the process of creating the gloves and demonstrates many of their features in this talk for Wired in 2012:

And for a couple more things… DJs who search for even more eclectic electronic sounds may stumble into the realm of “chiptunes.” Chiptunes developed as an electronic music genre parallel to turntablism, using every possible device that could make music. From the earliest personal computers to video game consoles today, there are always artists eager to exploit emerging technology to create their own new sounds. No matter what tools they use, a good beat, crisp sampling, and a groove are essential. Here are only a few examples:

That’s it for our short history of how turntablism shaped electronic music!

Let us know in the comments what your favorites were in this series, or if we left out the best parts…

And don’t forget to enter to win the DJ Starter Pack from Grover!