Thursday, June 25, 2009

Turntablist Transcription Methodology

Way back in 1999, I stumbled upon this website called Battlesounds trying to learn new scratch combos. There were all these quicktime videos of Q-Bert demonstrating these "next-level" scratches. Well there was also this little PDF booklet attached to the site. It was called the Turntablist Transcription Methodology or TTM for short, and it explained scratches in a linear fashion on a grid or staff.

"Wow, this is is pretty groundbreaking. There are so many possiblities, there's no limit to where this can be taken!!!" I said to myself.

Over the next few years, I used it frequently. Mostly when I'm trying to figure out a new scratch or trying to learn a new rhythm. I always wondered how widely this was used or if any other people even knew about it. Well when the movie Scratch came out, there was a part that briefly covered it. On the DVD special features there's even a Rob Swift demo of a written TTM routine with the written scratches scrolling at the bottom of the screen.

"Damn, now maybe it'll catch on more..."

Well, fast forward to 2007 when Thud Rumble's Scratchlopedia Breaktannica was released... There were over 100 new scratch techniques outlined in this DVD with only a short explanation which often times was vague or wrong. I found out later that the DVD was rushed into production and some of the scratch explanations never got to be edited or revised. So I set out to try to figure out some of these elusive scratches. With my TTM in hand, I was led to the skratchlounge.

Skratchlounge is the message board that accompanies Skratchworx, and is run by one of the original UK Turntablists Mark "Gizmo" Settle. Skratchworx handles all things dj. They post updates on new product releases and reviews of new dj gear. It's a super informative site and I actually bought my last mixer based on Skratchworx reviews.

Well, I joined the Skratchlounge because there was a Scratchlopedia Breaktannica help thread. When I got on, the thread was at about ten or eleven pages. There seemed to be a couple of scratches in particular that were really dynamic and baffling to all. Well what was the common denominator in our discussions??? It was the TTM. Sure enough, on a scratch message board populated by deejays all over the world, we were all using the TTM to bridge all language barriers. Awesome!!! I was prepared for this discussion, and I felt there was much for me to take away from this as well as much to contribute. I had been using the TTM to figure out scratches for almost ten years at that point, so it was only natural that I began contributing to the discussion.

Well over the next year or so, I learned so much from this discussion that it took my scratching to a level never before thought possible. I learned that some of the scratches I thought I was doing correctly were wrong, and some were right on. It was only through the understanding of the TTM that I was able truly learn, understand and dissect each indiviual scratch.

So I want to take time out now and thank the creators of the TTM, John Carluccio, Ethan Imboden, and Raymond Pirtle. I'd also like to shout out my Skratchlounge family who helped take part in these discussions over the past two years. Thanks, Dj Rags, Ritchie T, Johnny 1 Move, Alkivar, Gizmo and OKST.

Check out Skratchworx @ and skratchlounge @ Also check out the Turntablist Transcription Methodology website @

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