A Very Brief History Of The Dj And The Turntable

It was in the year nineteen seventy three that a Jamaican American man, DJ Kool Herc, developed many of the pioneer DJ techniques that are still used by DJs today or else go to DJ lessons Melbourne to know more about how to be a great DJ. First among these was turntablism, using the properties of the twin turntable deck to modify the music in a way that would not otherwise be possible. Prior to DJ Kool Herc, many DJs simply would play songs requested by the punters, with the more advanced among them perhaps using various techniques in order to transition smoothly between records. Essentially, Kool Herc was the pioneer of breakbeat DJing, and would play a mix of predominantly hard funk records that contrasted with both the popularity of disco. Many elements of his style were adopted by the nascent genre of hip hop, including his highly syncopated and rhythmic ‘toasting’, or exhortations over the music; his emphasis on the break; and the fact he called his dancers ‘break-boys’ or ‘break-girls’, more commonly abbreviated to a more familiar term: b-boy or b-girl. 

Kool Herc became a folk legend in the Bronx. He became less active as a DJ after having been stabbed, but by this point he had made an immeasurable contribution to DJing and to the then emerging hip hop culture. By the point he had semi retired from DJing, Kool Herc had influenced numerous other DJs such as the led party lights and the legendary Afrika Bambaataa. Afrika Bambaataa helped solidify the cultural presence of the techniques and styles that Kool Herc introduced, as well as being known as the godfather of hip hop in his own right. In nineteen eighty two, Afrika Bambaataa went on the first international tour by a hip hop artist, heading to France, among other places. Afrika Bambaataa is also often credited with being the inventor of turntablism as a discrete genre of its own. Turntablism treats the turntable as a musical instrument in its own right, rather than simply being a means of reproducing an already recorded sound. By the nineteen nineties, turntablism would begin to drift away from the hip hop culture as the DJ became increasingly peripheral to commercial hip hop.

In Jamaica in the late nineteen fifties, ‘sound systems’, riotous street parties in which promoters would play music over a loud portable PA system while providing raucous commentary and banter over the top became increasingly popular. They were also a source of income for the people who organised them, who would then be able to charge for admission and then sell food and alcohol to the revellers. The rhythmic speaking over music bore an unmistakable resemblance to the rap that would come later, and was known as ‘toasting’. Later on, this aspect of urban Jamaican culture undoubtedly went on to influence the development of hip hop culture in the United States of America.