Free DJ Lesson: Introduction to Scratching

In this free DJ lesson, our DJ Courses Online instructor introduces you to the basics of scratching. Even if you’ve scratched before, this is a good guide for reviewing the fundamentals. These are critical to being able to scratch. Scratching can be added tastefully to supplement a song in a live performance, used as a solo, or in between. Just remember to really master each technique before attempting to perform live.

For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:

Alright, in this tutorial we are going to go over basic scratching.  So, this is our introduction to scratching and I am going to show you four different scratches.  They are the baby scratch, the forward scratch, the backward scratch and the transform scratch.  So, I am going to go over each of these individually and then we are going to put them together and you will see how simple scratching can really be and it is really all about the combinations that you come up with around these four different scratches.  And you will see that the possibilities are infinite.
Alright, so let us start off with the baby scratch.  The baby scratch is just simply rubbing the record forward and backward over a sound.  No faders involved in this one, so you want to leave the fader in the on position, meaning letting the sound pass through.  As you can see I can change the speed and the timing at which I move the record to create different rhythms and different pitches.  So, while this may be the simplest of all scratches, there are still a lot of things you can do with the sound depending on how you move it forward and backward.
Alright, so this next scratch is called the forward scratch and in this one, we only want to hear the forward motion of the sound.  So, you want to start with the fader closed, meaning no sound can pass through, and the record cued to the start of the sound.  Then you are going to open the fader, meaning move it to the on position, release the record, hear the sound play, close the fader and then pull the record back.  As you can see, you can also use the input fader, since it does have the same function as the cross fader and that it allows sound to either be heard or not heard.  As you get more comfortable with this motion you can go faster and faster to create different rhythms and variations on this forward scratch.  Also, how you push the record forward can change the type of sound you get.  So, let us just review this slowly one more time.
So, the next scratch is the backward scratch and as the name indicates instead of hearing the forward motion this time we want to only hear the backward motion.  The idea behind this scratch is essentially the same, it is just now the fader is closed during the forward motion of the scratch and opened as the record is moving backward.
So, let us take a listen as I combine forward and backward scratches.  Also, pay close attention to how I use my record hand to alter the pitch of the sound.  It is a very important part of scratching in terms of added style and variation to how you pull off these different cuts.  Those are some backward scratches.  And here are some forward and backward scratches alternating.
So, next I am going to combine the baby scratch and these forward and backward scratches, just so you can see how just with these three alone you can create some interesting scratch combinations.
Alright, now the fourth scratch, we are going to go over is the transform scratch and that works by letting the record go and using the cross fader to chop the sound on and off.  So that can work on the forward and backward motion of the record and the more comfortable you can get the faster you can get on the fader giving you a faster sounding scratch.  Again see how the motion of the record hand also can affect the sound and give you a new variation.
So, it is really important to start off slow when learning of these new scratches.  Really understand each of the motions, the relationship between the fader hand and the record hand and don’t go faster than you should.  That was one of the biggest mistakes I used to make was I would try to go too fast on a new scratch and it ends up taking longer to learn it when you do it that way.  So, I encourage you to start off slow, do a lot of repetitions and eventually you will gain the coordination and the confidence to go faster.
So, the next step is to be able to do this over music and over a beat.  So I am going to put on a drum break and I am going to go over these scratches and just come up with all kinds of combinations using these four scratches to create a nice little scratch composition.  So, these are just baby combinations right now, a lot you can do with just the baby scratch.
Alright, backward and forward.  Some backward scratches and some transforms.  That is some transforming on the forward and backward motion of the record.  Now, you can also use the volume input fader to give you some cool fade-in and fade-out effects while doing a baby scratch.  Some forwards on the volume fader.
And that is the intro to scratching.  Remember the key is to start out really slow on each scratch and also to practice as much as you can because the more repetitions you get in, the better you will become.