Monday, April 19, 2010

Technology Kills....Sometimes

Nearly three decades ago, a neat little invention called the compact disc player was introduced to consumers as a new format of playing music to help the listener continue to enjoy without hearing worn out or abused records skip. When CD players became more available and affordable, the sale of records declined, therefore manufacturing of vinyl came close to a halt and the life of records was at death's door. Advocates of vinyl continued to fight for their beloved black discs and after seeing sales increase in vintage shops or stores who still carried vinyl, the recording industry decided to once again make vinyl records more available to DJs, collectors, and enthusiasts.

With the introduction of mp3 players, music formats were once again at war with each other to survive, with digital formats gaining ground. As the saying goes..."If you can't beat'em...join'em", CD players took a turn to attempt to run along side digital formats by making players that centered around the DJ, complete with pitch controls and many features that turntables have. With technology readily available for anyone to burn their own CDs, this took the pressure off of DJs having to carry loads of records to gigs when they could lighten the load by carrying CDs and CD players fit for DJs.

Turntablists continued to have their say-so in the matter and still chose to use vinyl. Many would criticize other DJs for being lazy because they chose to use CD format. I was one of those who pointed the finger as well because of my roots in being a Hip-Hop DJ. After my house was broken into and my record collection stolen, I had to use the very thing I criticized. Years later I found out about a revolutionary program and interface called Serato Scratch Live, which was introduced in 2004. This brought about the merging of mp3 files and turntables, as well as eliminating the need to carry all your precious vinyl to gigs. However, technology can still have it's drawbacks and record sales started to decline again, as well as many DJs started selling or got rid of their collections.

In 2008 a student named Scott Hobbs at Dundee University in the UK introduced the Attigo touchscreen "turntables". It uses the same touchscreen technology as a Nintendo DS. As far as creativity for inventing this, I give an "A" for effort. But this crafty invention is nothing compared to seeing a DJ in action manipulating vinyl. After watching the video demonstration, I was not impressed and felt it was along the lines of Virtual DJ and other "laptop alone" type programs. The only exception is, you use two of these touchscreens with a traditional DJ mixer.

Stanton also introduced a pad that's similar.

I've had several discussions and debates with other DJs on the art of being a DJ. Most of the veterans who spent years perfecting their craft have the same to say. It takes good selection, timing, creativity, style, and a perfect mix to rock the crowd. I close with a comment and question asked in the title of an article I came across that asks: Is Technology Destroying The Art of DJing?

Veteran DJ Ali vents ON THE AIR:

It seems that with the nightly dance parties in heavy supply, anyone, and I do mean anyone, with a laptop and i tunes is now a DJ. So where does that leave the DJs who have been doing it for years? What does it mean to be a DJ? Is it style? Are you a DJ if you can scratch? Is it substance? Does being a DJ constitute having a good selection and crate digging your heart out? Or can you get by if you get the crowd to dance by playing Thriller and Justice off your Nano? And is it any great feat to get a bunch of kids cracked out on Sparks to sway and slam to a beat? Ugh.

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