The death of vinyl and an ethereal future

There is some debate at the moment as to whether Technics are about to cease production of the legendary 1210 turntables. The Guardian seems to think they are, and asked uber turntablist and tea drinker Mr Scruff for his thoughts. Strangely they didn’t come ask me, but I do have a passing interest, so here’s my two penn’orth.

Well for starters, vinyl and decks will never disappear, for the sound quality and tactile reasons Scruff outlines, plus their future retro appeal is obvious. However, the future is clearly digital and ethereal. Not in an elvish, Lord of the Rings, type fashion. I mean the future doesn’t lie in content stored on hard drives, it lies in the storing stuff in the internet ether, as the trend towards cloud computing demonstrates.

I’ve been kicking around the audio visual scene for some time now, and av has long been heralded as a replacement for more traditional Disc Jockey entertainers. The stumbling block was always the medium, but software like Serato has enabled revered turntablists like DJ Food, DJ Cheeba and DJ Woody to turn their skills to audio visuals. Given they were always heavy on sampled content, it’s no surprise that they have been itching for technology to set them free. You think I’m confusing myself here don’t you, as Serato uses on turntables. Well yes and no….

What’s happening here is a transition period when legacy skills developed on turntables are being re-applied. In future, when those turntables no longer form the bedrock to performance, and there are digital control mechanisms, there isn’t a need to re-wire old and new ways of doing things.

Scruff makes an interesting point about digital DJ’s being hyperactive in their mixes, playing 30 seconds of this then 30 seconds of that because they can carry it all with them. Actually I think that is just a style thing, he lets stuff play out whilst the likes of DJ Food have always banged through hundreds of tracks and samples in a set. Personally, I’m definitely in the long playing camp, not least cos I can’t mix so have to wait til a track dies down towards the end to bring up another one! But also because music videos often have a narrative behind them which is worthy of sharing in entirety, no-one likes to miss a punchline. I see my role like that of a (hospital?) radio DJ, introducing people to videos and showcasing talent, not showing off my (non-existent) mixing skills.

All that said I totally acknowledge that my approach has it’s faults. Connections to the net can be a bitch sometimes, audio quality is often poor, the lack of pitch shift means that beat matching is a freak occurrence, not a practised art. Plus, what I do is entirely in contravention of YouTubes T&C’s, but then again I don’t think I have organised an event or played a gig where there hasn’t been some kind of minor legal infringement going on!

Well done for sticking it out this far, here’s a compensatory video, I feel like one of these guys…

Mavericks are supposed to crash and burn though aren’t they?!


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