Baby Scratch (and Slices and Scribbles)

The baby scratch is the first scratch every DJ should learn. It’s a simple scratch that only involves the record hand. However, there are a lot of different variations, both in terms of timing and in terms of additional techniques that have evolved from it. 

2, in particular, are the Scribble (which is essentially 2 or 3 baby scratches in very quick succession) and the Slice (which is the baby scratch but you open and close the crossfader in time with the record motion). The latter doesn't really impact on the sound but helps you to switch between different types of scratching (more on this later) and also forms a critical part of more complex techniques that we will also go through later on in the intermediate and advanced sections. 

Do spend some time here mastering all the different levels in the ‘What level are you?’ section at the end of the video (09:17) as you will find that having this foundational scratch fully in your pocket will significantly speed up your progress.

A little slice of DJ history...

The baby scratch was invented by a 12 year old in the 1970s. Theodore Livingston, who went on to be known as Grand Wizzard Theodore, was playing records loud in his bedroom and would often be scolded by his parents from the other room, telling him to turn it down. One day in 1975, Theodore was playing the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache’ and, as he reached over to pause the record to hear what his mum was saying, he accidentally moved the record back and forth in a baby scratch.

His older brother, known as Mean Gene, was involved in the growing Hip Hop culture and was also creatively involved with Grandmaster Flash so it wasn’t long before Theodore’s fortunate discovery was integrated into the very core of Hip Hop culture.

Timings:

Intro (00:05)

Technique (00:13)

Common mistakes (01:49)

  • Don’t hold onto the record properly
  • Don’t pull the record back far enough
  • Pulling the record back too far

Timings (03:19)

  • Quarter notes
  • 8th notes
  • 16th notes
  • Triplet time - 8th note triplets (04:30)

Variations (05:42)

  • Change the pitch
  • Accenting notes
  • Scribble technique (07:06)
  • Slice technique (07:52)

Exercise: swapping between the Baby and the Slice (08:47)

What level are you? (09:17)

  1. Technique (no music)
  2. Quarter note timing
  3. 8th note timing
  4. 16th note timing
  5. 8th note triplet timing
  6. Pitch changing and accenting notes
  7. Scribble
  8. Slice


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