The Power of Influence by Other Genres
There are many kinds of music. Yet, most dj’s learning to scratch are mostly influenced by other dj’s. This makes sense and it’s necessary because the building blocks of scratching have been laid down by dj’s for many years now. However, being influenced strictly from scratching will make you sound very typical. Even worse, because there are so many dj’s, with more and more starting daily, how can you expect to stand out if you're only being influenced the same way they are?
Conforming vs. Self Expression
Imagine you go to a private school where everyone is expected to wear the same outfit every day. Any passerby would just view you as another face in the crowd. However, if you broke the rules and came to school dressed exactly how you want to dress, you'd stand out so much you'd be hard not to notice.
Likewise, the more diverse your musical influences, the more unique your style will be. Not only will your scratching stand out more, but it’ll be more personal because your influences won’t be the same as others. You'll not only be more unique when you scratch, but you'll innovate because the ideas you're working on will come from unique sources (more on this later).
What Genres Are Worth Giving Attention?
That’s up to you to decide. Generally, I'd advise seeking out genres that naturally catch your ear. Although, sometimes it's worth listening to music that you may not like. Regardless of what you choose to listen to, there are certain things you should keep in mind. Pay attention to how the music makes you feel, how it's composed, what kind of rhythmic patterns it has, how melodic it is, what are the individual musicians within the song doing, etc.
Personally, I take a lot of influence from Jazz and Metal soloists. Particularly virtuoso saxophone and guitar players. I think a lot about how they play with timing, pitch, rhythm, speed and phrasing. This has allowed me to form a much more musical sounding scratch style. Whereas before, I sounded a lot more stiff and monotone. Don't over concern yourself with my influences though. It's still best to learn from whatever source you choose. However, it's important to share my influences with you, so you understand how to learn from other musicians.
Scratching Still Has Value
I must emphasize, it’s still important to learn from other dj’s. So much of the hard work has already been done for you. It would be foolish to completely reinvent the wheel. In truth, learning from other people who scratch is what makes it possible to model yourself after other kinds of musicians. Without a strong foundation in scratching, it’s extremely difficult to push the boundaries because you won’t know what the boundaries are.
You can’t sound just like other musicians
You’re already in a unique position because no other instrument sounds like scratching. Think of this as an advantage. You won’t be able to fully reproduce the sounds of other musicians. However, attempting to sound like them will lead to unique sounds and style. This is also why innovation happens. Since what you're trying to reproduce isn’t normal for most dj’s, the chance for innovation increases big time.
Developing Good Habits
Don't make this a one time thing. Listen to other genres and musicians often. The more you try reproducing what they’re doing, the more you’ll develop your dj skills. It might feel weird at first, but over time it’ll become more natural. Most importantly, your efforts WILL be noticed!
Article written by Kwote