Controlling Music | Vinyl Mode
Learning To Scratch Using Digital Players
DJ controllers and digital players are becoming more popular and affordable.
It is no wonder to see many beginners choose their first set of DJ decks based on price and convenience.
A question that some of my students ask is, "Do I need Vinyl Turntables to learn to scratch."
The short answer is no.
Fundamentals of DJ Equipment
Most DJ equipment base their design on classing DJ gear (2x Vinyl Turntables and a Mixer)
The engineers who create the equipment put a lot of thought into "how will the DJ control the music".
When a Vinyl DJ was moving a record, they were physically moving the music grooves against the needle/stylus.
The spinning platter could be temporarily slowed down and sped up to "nudge" the track in place.
Nudging the track is used to investigate if the song's tempo needs to be sped up or slowed down.
If we move the platter clockwise and it sounds more in time with the track that is playing, this might mean that we need to increase the speed using the pitch slider.
With a digital system, the engineers came up with a way for the DJ to manipulate the musical speed, even though the music existed as bits and bytes.
The Jog Wheel
A jog wheel does not typically rotate like a vinyl player, but it still allows the user to manipulate the music as if it were.
Some players have a display to indicate the rotation reference for the deck.
When the music is paused, the jog wheel can rewind or forward the track, usually in an attempt to find the cue point.
When the song is playing, the platter can momentarily speed up or slow down a song. (Pitch Bend)
When you let go of the jogwheel, the music will return to its original speed.
The DJ will "nudge" the music to better align the speed of two songs if the beat is falling behind or racing ahead. (Usually, a nudge consists of a quick 1/4 turn of the jogwheel)
There are usually two different modes of control, activated by pressing a button labelled "Vinyl" or "Jog/CDJ" mode, located near the pitch slider.
When Vinyl Mode is engaged, the deck acts like a Vinyl turntable with the ability to stop and move the music physically.
Like a Vinyl Record, if you hold it down, it will pause the music. The physical platter continues to spin, but the record is still because the record and the platter move independently.
When a Jog Wheel enters vinyl mode, the DJ can scratch like a vinyl platter.
Additionally, in Vinyl Mode, you can use the side of the platter to temporarily speed up the track, similar to the way you would with jog mode, however when you touch or move the top of the platter, the music will stop or scratch like a vinyl player.
When the vinyl mode is enabled, we can grab (stop the music with a touch) and scratch the jog wheel similar to a vinyl platter.
Most Turntablists can translate their scratching skills from Vinyl to Controller and vice versa.
This means that it is viable to learn how to scratch on a CDJ or digital player in Vinyl Mode.