Why Thoughtless Solos Get Greeted With Closed Minds
Composition isn't something that gets discussed much in the scratch community. However, without it music lacks structure and without structure music is basically just a bunch of noise. This holds true when any musician solos as well. A well composed solo is a great solo. Likewise, if there is little to no thoughtful composition in a scratch solo it will not be enjoyable to listen to.
Composition tends to be thought of as a written process, yet in scratching writing out your solos is very rare. However, just because the bulk of scratch solos that exist are improvised, does not mean that they can't be well composed. If that were the case, all the greats of scratching would sound thoughtless and unconvincing. Thus, there'd be no great dj's.
Know Your Audience
Whether your audience is other dj’s, or people with no connection to djing, they have one thing in common. If your solos lack structure, they will notice and become turned off. They may not be able to put what they dislike into words, but their instincts will make them dislike it.
Improvisation Love it or Love it
Let's face it, if you don't enjoy improvising you better learn to, because the backbone of scratching is and will always be improvisation. So how do you compose your solos if everything you're doing is on the spot? Well there are many ways, but one thing you can use immediately is repetition.
Repetition Gives a Feeling of Structure
If all your solos are one long string of different scratches, the audience never has a chance to feel anchored to what you're doing. It will fly right over their heads. If something sounds good it should be repeated multiple times. Get the most juice you can out of it until it's dry.
That's why pop songs are so popular because they always have a hook. Don't get me wrong. I'm not telling you to be as repetitive as a pop song. However, you need to get more out of the scratch patterns you know, so the audience has a chance to soak them in and enjoy them.
This is also important because most scratch beats are in a simple, repetitive 4/4 format with no hooks whatsoever. This makes you responsible for creating a hook like feeling. If you don't do this, audiences that are used to hearing a hook, will be lost and naturally lose interest.
Timing Goes Hand in Hand with Repetition
Don't make the mistake of assuming that simply repeating a combo multiple times at any moment is enough. Timing is still an important part of using repetition. Going back to hooks, listen to any major pop tune and you'll notice the hooks are always well timed. This isn't an accident. The goal is to maximize the effectiveness of the hook. Thus, it usually happens after a song has built up a lot of tension and is beginning to peak.
This means you'll have to feel things out. If you're scratching over a simple 4/4 beat, you’ll be steering the ship. If the beat is a little more complex and actually has hooks of its own, you can use those hooks as cues for your own repetition. Either way you'll have to develop a good sense of timing and that comes mostly from experience.
Never Go Too Long Without Repeating Yourself
When first getting used to this concept, try repeating scratch patterns at least every 30 seconds. As you continue to do this, you'll soon get a feel for what sounds and feels right. Like when to repeat patterns, how many times to repeat them, as well as how often. Nothing is a better teacher than experience. So don't wait to turn your scratch solos into breathtaking performances and get started today!
Article written by Kwote