Theory of Motions

Music Theory and Systematic for Sample Music


Over the years, playing pre-recorded audio samples has become an integral part of music culture. What was once the guitar or drums is now, for many, the turntable or MIDI controller. The DJ is the most common representative of live performance of sample-based music, spinning genres such as hip hop, house, trap and dub. The DJ?s skills can range from compiling and mixing records, to the more technically demanding turntablism and controllerism.

The focus of this paper is turntablism. This term describes the manipulation of a record on a turntable in sync with the faders on a mixer to produce rhythmical sounds. The DJ manually adjusts the speed and direction of the record while muting and unmuting the sound using the crossfader and line-fader of a DJ mixer. Despite having millions of fans, turntablism has rarely been a subject for academia and cannot be studied at music university. This is due to its short history compared to other classical forms of musicianship and the lack of scientifc analysis, educational books and academics who are profcient musicians and who also play professionally. As such, the practical and theoretical development of turntablism has only been explored by self- taught non-academics and there still remains a great deal to be said.

The following paper, entitled The Theory of Motions, is also written by someone who is self-taught. Presented here are the frst foundations for the analysis of turntablism based on a specially designed music theory and playing method. At this point we might legitimately ask the question: if computers can trigger audio samples to play whatever and whenever we want, so why do we need a turntablist to do it by hand and why create a notational system for it?

Like any instrumentalist, the turntablist uses human motor skills to create sounds and this lends the artform value that extends beyond the capabilities of a computer. Although the rhythmic sterility of a computer or software can be humanized through various computer tricks such as randomization, it is not comparable with this human variable. It lacks the imperfection of emotionally controlled processes; in other words it lacks a heartbeat.

This is the notation of a global communications medium for the composition, archiving, replication and systematic analysis of music. We are, in a sense, decoding the DNA of the turntablist?s musicianship and providing a way to visualize it. Allowing the DJ to read and write music gives them a higher awareness of the theory and an effcient way of teaching and learning.


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