Turntablists — what more do you want from technology?

kontrol z2 technics turntablism turntablists

A recurring theme in the DJWORX community comments is the notion that because Native Instruments has been focussing on controllers, it has “forgotten” about turntablists. So we got to thinking — if NI or any other DJ technology company for that matter were to bring the requested more to turntablism, what could it possibly be?

ABOUT TRAKTOR — SOME CONTEXT

As it’s a regular comment on DJWORX, so let’s give some context to those who feel that NI is snubbing the turntablist world:

  • The Kontrol S8 has inputs for turntables, and comes with Traktor Scratch Pro. Traktor Pro would have done otherwise.
  • The Native online store lists numerous Traktor Scratch specific DVS products, including two flavours of DVS bundles, plus vinyl and slipmats.
  • NI only makes one mixer, the Z2,  and it’s largely aimed at the scratch market, hence the Innofader.
  • NI actively sponsors the IDA World Battle.

Let’s be clear — just because a company shifts focus temporarily, it doesn’t mean it’s moved on. It just means that it’s not giving the maximum attention to the thing that you so desperately care about. The Apple Watch is coming out, so this means that they’ve forgotten about iPads and MacBooks?

DVS — THE GAME CHANGER

Turntablism is a cool, exciting, but niche part of DJing, one entrenched at a cultural level in turntables and vinyl. The purist attitudes exhibited by some border on religious mania, to the point where the very idea of using any kind of technology is an abomination. Yet those same people who so vehemently rallied against DVS back in the mid 2000s, now routinely use it and manage to hold their head up high, simply because a needle hits a groove.

So you can see technology has gained acceptance within the turntablist world, to the point where things like loops, cues, and samples (you know, the things that you can’t do with vinyl) are totally OK. You can’t argue with convenience or creativity, but that is a well-trodden and now largely irrelevant subject anyway.

kontrol z2 technics turntablism turntablists
The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff’s magnificent setup. Dicers, DDJ-SP1, and a Rane Sixty-Two — a turntablist wet dream, but still all about skills.

BUT HOW FAR IS OK?

Given the cultural relevance and pure hands-on rawness of vinyl and turntablism, there must surely be a point, a technological line in the sand at which advances can no longer be acceptable if the roots of a culture are to be maintained right? The very tenets of turntablism are still clear — turntables, mixers, needles, slipmats etc, as are the techniques too. But the way music is played has changed, and new techniques are evolving from new technology.

This leads us to the thrust of this piece. We’ve established that while turntablism has evolved, the basic principles are still much the same, and are still upheld with reverence. So when people protest about turntablists are being forgotten about and left behind, what exactly do you want to see companies like Serato and NI deliver? What kind of thing do you feel is acceptable to add while maintaining the spirit of turntablism? Where do you draw the line? Is your definition of turntablism as flexible as necessary to satiate your craving for new shiny? Is a turntable all it takes to keep it real and bring on the shiny?

OVER TO YOU

500 words and lots of questions later, answer if you will this simple question — as turntablists of any brand persuasion  what if anything do you wish to see hardware and software companies do for you?