Hip-Hop Turntablism, Creativity and Collaboration: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Hip-Hop Turntablism, Creativity and Collaboration

1st Edition

By Sophy Smith


182 pages

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Armed only with turntables, a mixer and a pile of records, hip-hop DJs and turntable musicians have changed the face of music. However, whilst hip-hop has long been recognised as an influential popular culture both culturally and sociologically, hip-hop music is rarely taken seriously as an artistic genre. Hip-Hop Turntablism, Creativity and Collaboration values hip-hop music as worthy of musicological attention and offers a new approach to its study, focusing on the music itself and providing a new framework to examine not only the musical product, but also the creative process through which it was created. Based on ten years of research among turntablist communities, this is the first book to explore the creative and collaborative processes of groups of DJs working together as hip-hop turntable teams. Focusing on a variety of subjects - from the history of turntable experimentation and the development of innovative sound manipulation techniques, to turntable team formation, collective creation and an analysis of team routines - Sophy Smith examines how turntable teams have developed new ways of composing music, and defines characteristics of team routines in both the process and the final artistic product. Relevant to anyone interested in turntable music or innovative music generally, this book also includes a new turntable notation system and methodology for the analysis of turntable compositions, covering aspects such as material, manipulation techniques and structure as well as the roles of individual musicians.


'The book’s main strength lies in its final chapter, in which the methods are utilized. It has application for the analysis of both collaborative composition and performance and for the group dynamics of rehearsal as well as for the analysis of turntable routines. Such methods will be useful to academics and students… Smith’s book appeals to the academic study of team turntablism at a deep level.' Music and Letters ’Hip-Hop Turntablism, Creativity and Collaboration offers precise, relevant and innovative descriptive tools to analyse the musicology of DJ hip-hop works, and also the creative processes used. From this point of view, the author has achieved her objectives: taking seriously the aesthetic methodology of DJs and demonstrating that hip-hop music is worthy of analysis’. Volume! (Translated from French) ’ … little has been published on the details of turntablism and Sophy Smith’s book is, therefore, both timely and welcome. Smith’s work is very accessible and takes steps to cover the basics systematically and clearly… much of the book will be useful to undergraduates and sections will serve as a useful summary of key topics for scholars. Perhaps more importantly, the book may serve to enliven important debates in popular music scholarship’. Popular Music

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Hip-Hop and collaboration; Turntablism in context; Turntablism and technology; The creation of original sound material; Team formation and the creative processes of Hip-Hop turntable teams; An analytical methodology for Hip-Hop turntable music; Notation and transcription techniques; Analysis of the compositional processes of UK Hip-Hop turntable teams; Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Sophy Smith is Research Fellow at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, UK, where she leads the innovative transdisciplinary Masters in Creative Technologies (MA/MSc). Sophy’s research focuses on creative collaboration. She works extensively as a composer and performer on national and international collaborative arts projects and is a founder and Director of the collaborative live art company Assault Events.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Rap & Hip Hop