Friend of Studio Scratches DJ Brace recently put me in touch with Darcy from the ScratchMobile project.
Darcy is creating some interesting scratch music and kindly offered to create a video that shares how you can do this too.
In this post, Darcy shows you how you can use Traktor to create a freestyle scratch music session.
As a bonus we have included all the samples used so you can have a go at playing with this yourself!
I recommend watching the composition video a few times, then viewing the video breakdown tutorial, before finally checking out the written instructions to allow it to really sink in and get a good understanding of what is happening.
Part 1 – The Composition
Here is his composition that Darcy created exclusively for Studio Scratches:
So now let’s see how he does it!
Part 2 – Video Breakdown Tutorial
This video breaks it down further:
Part 3 – Written Instructions
I’m Darcy and I like to scratch.
Here is a simple article on how I lay out my freestyle music sessions using Traktor and a Mac. I got back into scratching 4+ years ago after a 10 year + break. At first all I wanted to do was Cut It Up Fresh, but after 4 years, I started to want to get away from the daily Ahhhhh/Fresh game, and start getting into playing around with Traktor and start using my own content.
I’m going to make two basic assumptions in this article:
- You have a basic (like dead-easy basic) understanding of Traktor, which is all I really have anyway.
- You have a basic understanding of GarageBand (GB).
There are a thousand other ways you could get this done, I’m a pretty un-technologically advanced guy and I manage to get it done with these tools, so here we go…
1- Record Sounds
First thing I do is I record a bunch of content that I will then edit in GB…
…to get my scratch sentences or sample layouts I like. (Again, there are a thousand different ways you could do this, this is just mine.) As I don’t own a microphone, but still like to create speech content, I use TextEdit on my Mac. Just type the words/sentences/sounds you want to use on the pad that pops up when you open it. You can change the voice/speed in your System Preferences under the Dictation Speech function.
Once I have a bunch of content I think I like (I always record more than I think I want to use, because I will re-edit it in GB to my liking after. The point being, I don’t kill myself to get the stuff perfect, I just get a variety of sounds that I’ll edit later) I record in GB by opening up a new Loop Project. Using the + symbol in the bottom left hand corner, I add a few Real Instrument tracks. I do a sound check to make sure the recording levels are good, and then record it up (I am using two computers at this point, running the TextEdit on one and sending to GB on the other, which I am using to record).
The nice thing about GB is that you can also dump tracks in from iTunes. I use some of the other empty tracks I have opened up to drop in any other sounds from my iTunes that I might want to add to my final edit. For any software-created sounds like piano and organs from GB that you want to record, you will need to use a Software Instrument Track in GB. You can open one up using the + symbol in the bottom left hand corner.
2 – Edit Sounds
Once I have all the content recorded/created and added from iTunes, I get to editing. I will typically try to narrow it down to 8 sounds/sentences/items/words/piano notes/whatever that I want to use, as it’s easy to set cue points in Traktor on my Z2 later with 8 items. Then, with another empty track in GB, I copy and paste stuff till I have the sounds laid out.
3 – Send Sounds to Traktor
Next step is sending the content to Traktor. I’m sure there are a thousand different ways to do this, but I’ll share my way. In GB in the top header menu, there is a Share option, go to Send Song to iTunes. I shut Traktor down and start it up again after to update my iTunes folder within Traktor.
Boom. Now you have the content in Traktor. For beats you can really do anything you want. I typically take simple drum lines I like from GB, then loop them up on my Traktor deck B, possibly set a few different loops, some with bass lines some without…. Whatever.
4 – Start Scratching!
Then I get going on the cut. My goal is to be able to do simple pieces that I can nod my head to and that retain a certain aspect of freestyle performance. I like the content of the track to always morph and change based on how I play it or what my fingers are telling me that day, but the main rule I have started using for myself is, less is more. I prefer clean and simple with interesting changes to wild and crazy and pre-rehearsed. Either way, whatever makes your head nod. I set my 8 cue points on deck A…
…and now I’m all ready.
To re-cap, I’m really as close to as caveman as you can get about music, but I am determined, and not shy to try new stuff. This is my entry into getting where I want to be, and thought it would be dope if I shared it with you. Please get in touch if anything I’m saying requires some clarity, or if you have any good ways for me to improve upon what I’m up to. Cut It Up Fresh.
Download The Samples
Now it’s your turn!
Here are the samples for you to play with and see what you can come up with:
Download Darcy samples (right click > save as).
I hope that this gives you some ideas on how you can get away from scratching with ahhh and fresh and create something really musical.
Thanks Darcy for sharing your knowledge! I’d love to try this out on a z2!
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below and myself and Darcy will be monitoring them to give you answers.
Check out Darcy’s YouTube channel which is his online scratch journal that covers his progress over the last 4+ years.
The project that Darcy describes as putting his heart and soul into the most is his ScratchMobile project:
– Emma Short-E