5 Top Tips for DJs wanting to learn the art of scratching
Whilst learning to scratch is a fun way to add some flavour to your DJ sets, it can also be frustrating at times. Whether it’s trying to nail a double time pattern, or learn a completely new scratch, I’ve put together 5 top tips to help you on your journey.
- Practise each new pattern slow! Just as you would practise playing any other instrument, scratching is all muscle memory. By practising over slow tempos, or without a beat is the best way to understand and get comfortable with your fader and record hand movements.
- Try breaking each pattern down into individual movements – for example, a boomerang scratch is made up of 6 sounds in total (baby, forward transform, reverse baby, reverse transform) which can be broken down into two sets of 3 sounds, or by breaking it down into the 4 movements I just mentioned. Once you understand how they work, start by piecing them together.
- Be sure to work on your hand control. As much as scratching requires quick fader movements, your record hand also plays a massive part in how your scratches will sound! Try practising non-fader scratches such as babies, scribbles, tears, hydroplanes and drags – all of these will build up hand strength and enable you to combine them with fader-based scratches for more unique results. Also pay attention to how your scratch sample sounds at slower and faster hand movements. This is a great way to add intonation and style to your patterns.
- Be sure to spend time warming up. Even the best of the best will have a warmup session to get their hands feeling loose – this could be anything from hand/wrist stretches, to simply scratching over a variety of tempos for 10 minutes. Get those hands ready!
- Limit your time for each scratch pattern. Nothing is more frustrating than standing for 3 hours at a time trying to perfect a certain pattern when you’re having an off day. If you limit your time to around 15-20 minutes per pattern, not only will you be amped to come back another time and practise if you’re nailing it, but if you’re having an off day, you won’t become frustrated or disheartened.
Lastly, I know this is cheesy and cliche, but HAVE FUN! Yes, in order to be amazing you need to put in the hours and dedication but do remember that this is a fun way to express your creativity as a DJ. Whilst it can be difficult, scratching should not be a chore.
Now go and have fun!