Scratch and juggle terminology


VIP Junglist
Dec 3, 2001
Kingz Lyn, UK
scratchdj terminology - quoted from DOA/

Below is a list of terms defined as I have commonly experienced them used by other DJs and myself. Be aware that many moves and terms go by different names and are described differently by different DJs around the world. If you know of something that you think should be added to this page, or if you have a difference of opinion regarding how I have chosen to explain/define something then please let me know. By doing so maybe we can all learn something more and clear up some of the confusion.

Turntablism - The art of manipulating/restructuring previously existing phonograph recordings to produce new, musically creative combinations of sounds using turntables and a mixer.

Hamster Style - Normally a DJ setup would be configured with the right turntable playing on the right channel of the mixer and the left turntable playing on the left channel of the mixer. With a hamster style setup, however, the opposite is true. The right turntable plays through the left channel, and the left turntable plays through the right channel. Many DJs find it more comfortable to scratch hamster style since to do many moves it is easier to bounce the fader off of the side of the fader slot using your multiple fingers rather than your thumb. Personally I think that hamster style seems more conducive to flaring and doing continuous crabs. DJ members of the Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters/Space Travellers crew are most commonly recognized as the first DJs to practice/demonstrate this style thus giving it the nickname "hamster" style. There are two ways to achieve this mixer configuration. One is to physically hook your turntables up to the opposite channels where they come into the back of your mixer, and the other is with a hamster switch. Normally a hamster switch only reverses your crossfader's configuration, while physically reversing your turntable cables reverses the crossfader and volume faders' configuration.

Hamster Switch - A switch on a mixer that reverses the crossfader without reversing the volume faders so that you can scratch hamster style without physically hooking up the turntables to different channels on the back of the mixer.

Baby Scratch - The simplest of scratches, the baby scratch is performed without the use of the crossfader by simple moving the record back and forth. A simple example would be one forward stroke, and one backward stroke (or vice versa) in sequence.

Forward and Backward Scratches - Forward and backward scratches are also fairly simple scratches but unlike the baby scratch they are performed using the fader to cut the sound in and out. As an example, to perform 2 forward scratches you would just do two baby scratches with your record hand using your fader hand to cut the sound in when you move the record forward both times and out while you're pulling the record back both times so that all you hear are the 2 forward strokes. To do backward scratches you would do the same thing, but cut the backward strokes in and the forward strokes out.

Tear Scratch - The tear is much like a baby scratch in that you do not need the fader to perform it, but unlike a baby scratch, when you pull the record back you pause your hand for a split second in the middle of the stroke. The result is one forward sound and two distinct backward sounds. This scratch can also be performed by doing the opposite and placing the pause on the forward stroke instead. A basic tear is usually performed with the crossfader open the entire time, but it can also be combined with other scratches such as flares for example by doing tears with you're record hand and cutting the sound in and out with your fader hand.

Transform Scratch - Most famously associated with DJ Cash Money who is credited with coining the term "transform" or "transformer" scratch, this scratch is achieved by moving a sound with your record hand while repeatedly tapping the fader to cut the sound in and out in sequence with your fader hand as the sound plays. A transform scratch should begin with the sound off tapping the fader once you want the effect/sound to start. Imagine the crossfader as a button, and your thumb as the spring (or vice versa if you scratch hamster style). What you would be doing is tapping the button repeatedly as the sound plays giving a stuttering or tremolo type effect.

Flare Scratch - Discovered/invented by DJ Flare and further developed most famously by DJ Qbert, this scratch is much like the transform in some ways, only instead of starting with the sound that you are cutting up off, you start with the sound on and concentrate on cutting the sound into pieces by bouncing the fader off of the cut out side of the fader slot to make the sound cut out and then back in a split second. Each time you bounce the fader off of the side of the fader slot it makes a distinct clicking noise. For this reason, flares are named according to clicks. A simple one click forward flare would be a forward scratch starting with the sound on as you bounce/click the fader against the side once extremely quickly in the middle of the forward stroke creating two distinct sounds in one stroke of your record hand and ending with the fader open. In the same manner, 2 clicks, 3 clicks, and even more clicks (if you're fast enough) can be performed to do different types of flares. The discovery and development of the flare scratch was instrumental in elevating this art form to the level of speed and technical scratching that we're so used to seeing today.

Orbit Scratch - An orbit is most generally any scratch move performed both forward then backward or backward then forward in sequence. Usually when someone is referring to an orbit, however, they are most likely talking about flare orbits. For example, A 1 click forward flare and a 1 click backward flare in quick succession (altogether creating 4 very quick distinct sounds) would be a 1 click orbit. A 2 click forward flare and a 2 click backward flare in quick succession (altogether creating 6 very distinct sounds) would be a 2 click orbit, etc. Orbits can be performed once as a single orbit move, or sequenced to produce a cyclical neverending type of orbit sound. DJ Disk is primarily the one credited as the first person to discover/incorporate flare orbits into his scratching.

Crab Scratch - The crab scratch was invented by DJ Qbert as a variation on DJ Excel's "twiddle." It seems that the two met up in Japan for the Vestax DJ competition in 1995 and Excel was asking Qbert how to flare. When he showed Qbert how he thought the flare was done he was actually doing the twiddle instead by using his thumb as a spring and "twiddling" the fader with 2 fingers. After this meeting, Qbert took the idea back to San Francisco with him and after showing the scratch to DJ Disk, he ended up creating a move that utilized all 3 to 4 fingers and thus the crab was born. Later in 1995, while the DMC USA finals were being held in San Francisco, a group of djs and judges which included The Beat Junkies, The X-Men (now called the X-ecutioners), and the rest of ISP among others got together for what would later be know as the "Famous Warehouse Session" at Yoga Frogs old mobile DJ warehouse. It was at this session that Qbert shared the new scratch.

While the name "crab" seems self explanatory since it makes your hand look like a crab when you curl all of your fingers to perform it, according to Qbert the name originated elswhere. Apparently, he and Mixmaster Mike had just returned from Beirut, Lebanon around the same time that he invented it where they were served crepes one night after a show. He said that when the people over their pronounced crepes, it sounded more like "cccccreb" and since he thought it was funny, he used it to name the "cccccreb" scratch which everyone now pronounces as the crab.

To do a crab scratch you quickly rub/tap the fader knob with 3 or 4 different fingers in sequence starting with the pinkie or ring finger while using the thumb as a spring to cut the fader back out after each tap (or in if you scratch hamster style). The result is much like a 3 or 4 tap transform (or a 3 or 4 click flare if you scratch hamster style) only much quicker than you could probably do with one finger. Many DJs find this move easier or more comfortable to perform hamster style by bouncing the fader off of the side of the fader slot, but the move can be performed both normal and hamster. As with orbits, crabs can be performed once as a single distinct move, or sequenced to produce a cyclical neverending type of crab sound.

Twiddle Scratch - The Twiddle scratch is the precursor to the crab and it's introduction is most commonly attributed to DJ Excel of the UK. Quite basically, the twiddle is a crab scratch using two fingers instead of 3 or 4 to repeatedly "twiddle" the fader.

Chirp Scratch - The chirp scratch, perhaps most utilized in the style of DJ Jazzy Jeff, is performed by fading the sound out with the crossfader as you push the record forward and fading the sound back in with the crossfader as you pull the record back. Done slowly the effect might not be too impressive, but done quickly and accurately, a chirp sounding scratch is the effect. While the concept is easy to understand, chirps are one of the hardest scratches to perfect with great speed and consistency. In a time where all that most beginner djs want to think about is going straight into learning continuous crabs and flares, the chirp is an often overlooked and difficult to perfect scratch that should be a part of all dedicated scratch djs skills.

Scribble Scratch - A scribble is performed by tensing up the forearm muscles and moving the record back and forth with very small shaky sounding increments. The result is best described as a vibrating "scribbly" sounding effect.
...cont.../Tweak Scratch - The tweak scratch is a scratch perhaps made most famous by Invisbl Skratch Piklz member Mixmaster Mike. To perform a tweak scratch, you turn the motor off on your turntable and move the platter and record back and forth manually with your fingers and thumb in whatever pattern you desire. The fader may be used to do transform sounding tweaks, but the fader doesn't have to be used at all for this move if you choose not to use it. This scratch is best performed on long tone type samples, but can be applied to any sound. The result varies, but usually is a somewhat jerky sounding scratch. Because the turntable is turned off, each time your finger hits the record in a certain direction, it continues to go in that direction, but slows down as it does instead of returning to a constant speed after each time it is released as it does when the motor is on.

Bubble Scratch - Fist demonstrated by DJ Noize, this technique is achieved by moving the record back and forth while at the same time turning the EQ knob back and forth from minimum to maximum to get a sort of wah-wah pedal sounding scratch effect. This move is easier to perform on a Technics SHDJ1200 than on a Vestax 05/06 Pro since the SHDJ1200's EQ adjustment is different.

Zig-Zag Scratch - What I call a zig zag is a move that I first saw Qbert perform where you use one hand on the record, and one hand moving back and forth between the volume fader and the record to create a unique scratch effect. If you scratch with your right hand on the record the technique would go something like this:

1. right hand pulls back sound and lets go
2. left hand taps the record as it's coming back forward to make a quick pause in the forward movement of the sound to make two distinct forward sounds instead of one

3. left hand quickly moves and taps down the volume fader a small increment to make the volume a little lower (or higher since you could do the same thing in reverse).

4. repeat pattern

The effect you get is a 1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3... scratch of the sound while the 1,2,3 fades out a little more each time the volume fader is tapped a little lower (the sound can be faded completely out or you can start fading the sound in and out).
Hydroplane - A hydroplane is performed while the record is spinning and you lightly apply pressure to the surface with one or more fingers without stopping the record. The idea is to create light friction between your fingers and the record and if you have the right touch, a bassy friction sound is the result.

Airplane Scratch/Phazing - Although I haven't heard this term used very often, what I have heard referred to as an airplane or aeroplane is taking two identical sounds and playing them simultaneously on both turntables with the crossfader in the middle position. Although you're trying to match them up exactly, the beats will always be a little bit off (but not enough off for too much of a noticeable delay) so the end product doesn't sound the same as just one of the channels playing the beat on it's own. The result is a flange/phaze sounding effect. I have also heard this technique referred to as phazing.

Beat Juggling - To beat juggle, you use two records with a beat on each turntable and mix them together with the crossfader to create new combinations of beats or to create new beats altogether in a "cut and paste" fashion.

Strobing - Strobing is a type of beat juggling first associated with DJs Shortkut and Yoshi, but most famous demonstrated by Shortkut. In strobing you pretty much alternate back and forth between two records with a beat on each while you take turns tapping or pulling the records back slightly with your hand to manipulate the tempo on each record and keep them in sync in an alternating incremental fashion. I know that this explanation can be more than a little confusing, but an example might sound like kick, kick, snare, snare, kick, kick snare, snare, kick, kick, snare, snare...alternating between the same sounds on the two different turntables, but any combination is possible using 2 of the same records, or 2 completely different beats. By cutting back and forth you're usually separating kicks, snares, cymbal sounds, etc., to make new sounding or doubled sounding beats.

Looping - Alternating between two different copies of the same record, this technique is achieved by using the crossfader cutting in a phrase of music from one record, then cutting in the same phrase of music from the other record while at the same time pulling back each cut out record to the phrase's beginning point before it is cut back in again. By doing this you end up playing the same sound over and over again much like a sampler looping a beat (or any other sound for that matter). In many ways, looping is the foundation of almost all hiphop beats even though these days most people of course loop beats with samplers rather than turntables. Grandmaster Flash is primarily credited as the first dj to "loop the break" using two copies of the same record.
Klusta what bout UZI's and hydroplanes, did you mention stabs? I forgot? and did you paste that load of scratch terminology.
P.S. shortkut is ugleeeeee
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Originally posted by sampa
Klusta what bout UZI's and hydroplanes, did you mention stabs? I forgot? and did you paste that load of scratch terminology.
P.S. shortkut is ugleeeeee

heh, yeah transformer buttons are the work of satan!

hydroplane is up there, will try n find the rest.
I've been using the same excuse from the time i got my numark TT -100
"i 'll get round scrathing after i get me1210's"
Can i actually achieve any decent noise with them?
(if yo answer is YES, i'm fucked, cos' everytime i try """"scratchin"""
i give in after bout 15' cos it sounds s h i t e ! ! !)
+ the xfader on me PCV-175 is dead.(when on the right chanel, you can hear both chanels...bah..!)does this requires replacement xfader or what???
Ta fo yo time, any advice for scratch noobs welcome mastah!gordo-san awaits.. if you can do all the technics you mentioned above!!! :)
I think you might need to get a new x-fader mate-it might help!!!
I've only used those decks once-my mate has got a pair.....uuum I managed to get away with most scratches on them-what hand do you use on the fader when ur scratchin'? I also think u should practice for a little more than 15 secs-that might help. And before you shell out on 1200's why not check out the Numark TT200's cos there just as stable but cheaper!!!
HAY YO,scratchin is the easiest trick in the book,its the mixin styles you gotta practice these days,n e 1 can scratch if u give it 24/7.u are probaly thinkin now that i cant scratch and ya'll gonna say prove it,well,im gonna say i dont need to prove nuthin!!:finger:

its all good!!:slayer:
im using both hands for the record, but i get most out of me right one.and is only right for the faders
original posted by sampa:
""And before you shell out on 1200's why not check out the Numark TT200's cos there just as stable but cheaper!!!"

yeah sure...they might be, but i know that after i buy 1200 thats the last tables i'll ever buy!!this fuckers live for ever.people i knew in schoul 5 yers ago an had 'em, still thereyou go
The best tables I have played on were made by "American DJ"

and my name is Sue...

Techs are the end all of tables. I do like those Numark TTXs tho, nice solid feel and the pitch control is so flexible- my only bitch with it is it hasn't been around long enough to stand the test of time. There's a reason why the standard has been the same since it's inception. ;)
Originally posted by GorDo
yeah sure...they might be, but i know that after i buy 1200 thats the last tables i'll ever buy!!this fuckers live for ever.people i knew in schoul 5 yers ago an had 'em, still thereyou go

:sleep: :sleep: :sleep: Don't bore ppl with the whole
"1200's are the only turnatables I'll ever need" sure they're probably the most worthy candidates for the king grandady of all decks cos they've been out there so long-but..........
I'm with klusta, we be riding the PDX'z all da muthafuckin way to scratch mansion and back!!!!!! :afro: :slayer:
Originally posted by sampa

I'm with klusta, we be riding the PDX'z all da muthafuckin way to scratch mansion and back!!!!!! :afro: :slayer:

word up, my pdx's rock, whenever i go on technics nowadays they feel weak in comparison for turntablism stuff
Originally posted by bebop
whenever i go on technics nowadays they feel weak in comparison for turntablism stuff

u know it man, when are people gonna understand the power of vestax :saber:, there's shit on them I can't even attempt with 1210's :sleep:
Even for a plain old beatmixing set i feel tied down with the pitch range of a technics, before i even get started cutting it up.
Vestax will last just as long i bet, i've seen ones that have been dropped down sets of stairs and still work fine, and i've seen a lot of broken technics.
They're not just for scratching, the ultra pitch is probably the best thing on them for dnb, allows you to drop some sick old stuff in there without having to play the new stuff on -8%
Then there's the arms and you just can't fuck with those
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