It has long been argued by turntablists that the turntable is an instrument. Now we could argue about that statement for a dog’s age, but when Technics gathered together dozens of the world’s top of the food chain scratch DJs into one room to create a classical piece, the result is hard to argue against.
Taking a leading hand in this event was DJ/Lord/Sir/Mr* (delete as applicable) Switch. I first became aware this when he posted on Facebook about taking a Technics 1200 to Japan. I knew he was performing at some sort of Technics event, thus is struck me as odd that he’d need to take his own turntable back to the mothership.
Fortunately for me, Mr Switch came to the Worxlab for some country grub a couple of weeks ago, so I got some insight into this video and just why he had to lug a turntable to Japan.
But first, the video:
And this is what Mr Switch posted on Facebook about the project:
This is probably the most amazing video I have been privileged to feature in. Presenting the TURNTABLE ORCHESTRA – the world’s first ensemble performance using only turntables, mixers, and 100% vinyl. Created using a collage of classical sounds, and performed by 30 of the world’s finest DJs. I had so much fun being a part of this beautiful project. The video starts with Mendelssohn’s Concerto In E Minor, the world’s first commercially released vinyl LP, and in every way expands out to the present day. Japan has the finest scratch DJs on our planet, and to get to collaborate with them in this way was pure joy. Share your heart out!
So given that we’re talking about Technics, why did all these scratch DJs have to bring their own turntables? It’s actually very simple and clever too. Imagine that this was an orchestra full of classically trained musicians. They’d naturally bring their own instruments right? Well that’s the case with this orchestra too. It’s not exactly like lugging an antique Stradivarius to the gig, but I’m sure that there were some relatively elderly 1200s being used. One can only assume that they have a warehouse full of SHEX1200 mixers — I’ve never seen so many together in one space.
The basic principle was that each DJ got their piece sent to them in advance, including the custom vinyl. They’re playing little more than a note each, and getting the thing right was essential to the success of the final work. Given Mr Switch’s ongoing experience with classical orchestras, he became the unofficial conductor, and helped bring the whole thing together. He tells me that while practicing was understandably tough, the final performance was more or less nailed in a couple of takes.
There’s also a behind the scene video for your viewing pleasure.