Pitch Variation - A Matter Of Urgency


Scratching is a lot like your emotions. It can be very reserved and almost non expressive, or it can be full of intensity. Imagine if you had an emergency and you had to inform the person next to you. It’s safe to assume, if you mumbled the message in a lifeless way, they probably wouldn’t take you seriously. However, that’s not the way we typically express ourselves during an emergency.

The opposite can also be true. If you were at the dinner table and you asked the person next to you to pass the salt, you probably wouldn’t act alarmed about it. However, many dj’s don’t express the right emotions at the right times. Even worse, many dj’s don’t express much at all. Working on pitch variation and the timing of such scratch variations is a great way to pull yourself out of this unfortunate situation.

Don’t Throw Away The Key

It’s like being in prison. If you were in a jail cell and you had the key, you’d most likely open the cell and make a break for it. So why is it that we often place ourselves into boxes we think we can’t get out of? Often times, it boils down to focusing too much on the problem and not the solution.

Pitch variation is a great way to ditch this imagined limitation. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced at scratching, you’ve probably painted yourself into a corner enough times. By taking what you already know and working on expanding the pitch range of it, you can greatly expand your expressive capabilities in scratching.

Become a Better Communicator

Various pitches communicate various things. Extremely high pitches communicate tension and intensity. On the other hand, extremely low pitches communicate release, or a relaxed state of being. There are times to be intense and there are times not to. Your goal when expressing yourself with pitch, is to use it appropriately.

The range of pitch in scratching is immense. For those familiar with turntables that have ultra pitch functions, you realize the pitch can go 50% faster or slower than the original speed of the record. With such a vast amount of octaves to play in, the options reach far and wide. The best part is you don’t even need an ultra pitch turntable to access this amazing pitch range. It can all be done manually when executing your techniques.

This is a great because you can access all the emotions scratching offers. The melody and rhythm of the beat you’re scratching over, often dictates the emotion you should express. If the melody of the beat is laid back, you could compliment the beat with lower, more even tempered pitches. If the beat is fast and the drums are pounding strong, high pitch scratching would be a great way to add to that intensity. Likewise, you can subtract from the mood when it becomes too intense, by scratching in the lower pitch range.

Narrowing Your Focus

Sometimes staying in a tighter pitch range is effective. For example, matching the mood of a beat that expresses only one or two emotions. Or perhaps the chorus only expresses one thing and you want to match that emotion. Keep in mind, these are just examples. Discovering many ways to use pitch effectively will be an exciting challenge for you.

Reach for the Sky!

As you can see, there’s a ton of possibilities to explore with pitch variation. It’s important to know, every scratch you can do can be done in a variety of pitches. It will truly multiply your scratch vocabulary. Whether it’s a scratch you’ve been doing for years, or something you just picked up, pitch variation should be applied.

A good way to develop pitch range is to place limitations on yourself. Imagine you’re a painter and you’ve decided to paint a mountainside. However, you only have three colors on your paint palette. You want to paint a brown mountain that has many different cracks, crannies, nooks and shadows. The three colors you’re restricted to using are brown, white and black. While that may seem like an extreme limitation, anyone with decent painting experience knows it’s more than enough.

Floodgates Unleashed

Now that you know more about pitch and its use for self expression, it’s a great time to start experimenting. Even if you try just a little bit, you’ll soon see how much it impacts your ability to effectively express yourself with scratching. Even if you have lots of experience developing pitch, you’ll benefit from a wider range of pitch choices. Start being heard more. Demand people’s attention!

Article written by Kwote


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