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African American Women Play Musical Instruments: Turntable

Names, Links, and Lists of African American women who play or played musical instruments.




Vinyl Albums

Woman DJ

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The Turntable and Scratching

"The original design of the turntable was as a machine intended for sound reproduction, the turntable has become a popular instrument for musical creation, spurred by the growth of hip-hop and DJ culture. Scratching is a hip-hop music technique of creating musical sounds using a turntable by manually pulling and pushing a record rapidly under the phonograph’s stylus. Scratching is commonly thought to have been invented c1975 by GrandWizzard Theodore [Theodore Livingston] (b 1962), then a protégé of DJ Grandmaster Flash (b 1958). Flash, DJ Jazzy Jay (b 1961), Red Alert [Fred Crute] (b 1956), and others popularized the technique at community events in the 1970s as part of a crowd-pleasing DJ performance called “scratch-and-mix.”

In the 2000s scratching and related turntable techniques have been taught formally. Jam Master Jay cofounded the Scratch DJ Academy in New York in 2002, while Berklee College of Music and other institutions offer courses in turntable techniques. Although DJs have moved from playing records in nightclubs to turntable-controlled MP3s using interfaces like Serato Scratch, scratching and related turntable techniques are still used prevalently with MP3 interfaces, CDJs (turntable-style CD players), and traditional records."


Articles and Books


Katz, Mark. "Men, women, and turntables: gender and the DJ battle," The Musical Quarterly, v.89, no.4, (Winter 2006), pp.580-599.