Want to reignite interest in DJs who actually use their hands and fingers to slice up and juggle sounds? A cavalcade of “laptopists” is the ticket. Suddenly, at least in some corners, people are again interested in turntablism. It’s nice to see how a controller can integrate digital loop and cue points with a setup that still focuses on scratching. And Stanton’s SCS.3d turns out to be scriptable in the open source DJ software Mixxx. As some live PA musicians revert to a “push play” mentality, DJs can keep it interesting.

I’m generally not so interested in posting videos from manufacturers, but in this case it’s fun just watching DJ Jungleboy work behind a pair of Stanton SCS.3d controllers. These instruments seem designed for him. In a way, a lot of what he’s doing could easily be done with a sampler and drum pad, like an MPC setup, but then he’s got it mapped in a slightly unusual way, and the radial layout serves that nicely.

Oddly, what Jungleboy is doing is “DJing,” whereas some people with Traktor or Ableton Live supposedly doing “live PA” (some, not all) are basically just playing finished tracks – something you might more accurately term “iTunesing.” It’s a strange world, and what may ultimately happen is that we start to divide things between people who are making an effort to be musicians, good or bad, and people who aren’t.

These SCS.3d’s I see are now at a street price of US$200, which could make them a nice buy.

Open Source SCS.3d Scripting?

Need another reason to check out the SCS? All due respect to the folks at Serato, here’s a neat twist: you can script the SCS.3d with Mixxx, the open source DJ tool for Windows, Mac, and – yep – Linux. Serato is a terrific and solid tool, but if you’re looking for something a little different, Mixxx looks terrific.

This also demonstrates why choice makes controllers much more powerful, just as you’d want choices and versatility with a musical instrument. There’s a detailed post over at Mixxx’s blog from back in February. Basically, if you’re a power user, you can make the SCS.3d do any trick you like with its controllers, response, and lights. If you’re not, you benefit from the hard work DJ Pegasus has been doing to make this possible.

MIDI Scripting and the Stanton SCS.3d (Videos)

Now, I wonder if we’ll see this scripting applied to Akai’s APC40 soon, too, in Mixxx – my guess is yes, if that team gets their hands on one.

One thing’s for sure: the spirit behind turntablism, virtuoso manipulations of sound, lives on. And those of you just faking turning knobs? You’ll have to figure out how to live with yourselves.

  • KimH

    <blockquote cite="Peter Kim">Oddly, what Jungleboy is doing is “DJing,” whereas some people with Traktor or Ableton Live supposedly doing “live PA” are basically just playing finished tracks – something you might more accurately term “iTunesing.”

    I'm sorry, but this is just ignorant. No doubt some DJs are just "iTunesing," but if you had any idea of what's involved with higher-level DJing, you wouldn't be so smug.

  • http://www.keyofgrey.com KeyOfGrey

    Adding a set of SCS.3d's to a traditional set up expands the possibilities for sure and it looks like it's starting to get into the realm of the "controllerist". Funny that controllerism is getting closer to traditional DJing and DJing may go the direction of controllerism. The way DJ Jungleboy is using these Stantons, is similar to the way Ean Golden uses his custom arcade VCI-100's triggering cue points like mad.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @KimH: Note I said "some"? Also, I'm referring to live PA sets, some of which are really anything but — not DJing, that's my whole point. Some of the "higher-level DJing" is more live PA than the things people call live PA. I think the terms are breaking down, and that's probably a sign of healthy change.

    At least a few of my sets would be most accurately called "trying not to blow up the laptop," so there's no need to take any of this *too* seriously. ;)

    And, you know, exactly what KeyOfGrey said. There's a real convergence happening. It's probably good news. That's smug?

  • jasonmd2020

    An SCS.3d for $200 makes a good buy? Sorry. Two like hes got up in the video is $400. For The price of one of those, I got two Korg NanoPads & a NanoKontrol patched into my Traktor Scratch Duo set up. Nice try tho…

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, I'm not buying one, necessarily. But for the lighting / individual hotspots… it's at least in the ballpark of some similar devices, historically. I don't know why you'd need two, necessarily. One might be fine.

  • jasonmd2020

    Yeah I was debating about getting a second nanopad but dedicating one to each turntable seemed like a no brainer for cue points. Not having to worry about which deck has the focus means less staring at the screen.

  • RCUS

    Sorry to spit hot fire all over this thread, but was I the only one that noticed a slight lack in skillz for this guy? Really not trying to hate or hang off Mr. Golden's nutts, but a battle between Ean or Moldover and this guy for controllerism braggin rights would not bode well for DJ Jungleboy…

    Then again, it could be that he was using the Stanton gizmo as a drum pad.

  • sr_proxerino

    RCUS – I agree completely.

  • KimH

    Fair enough about using the word "some," but… in reference to this "some" group, you then go on to say that they're "basically just playing finished tracks." As if playing "finished tracks" were the diving line.

    There are many DJs doing extremely skilled (and well-paid) work that doesn't involve remixing on-the-fly. And I've seen a number of DJs playing on Ableton who theoretically are remixing live, but the Ableton prep work required means they're focused on a very constrained set of material.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @KimH: Yes, but if you call a set "live PA" and then play a finished track, and someone calls their set "DJ" but manipulates things more actively, those terms cease to mean anything. That was my whole point. I think we're at least partly in agreement: there's a sort of set of tradeoffs here. There's a convergence of these two things. And you can go to a party and the "DJ" set turns out to be more interesting than the thing labeled "live PA." So maybe we've become overly dependent on these terms.

    I think he is using the SCS as a drum pad. I'm not saying this is some breakthrough, I'm just saying it's conceptually interesting. I could see it developing into something.

  • http://abrightfearlesssunrise.blogspot.com/ Birds Use Stars

    Well I thought it was cool…

  • KimH

    @Peter: Yes, part of it is terminology. I've seen some really crappy "live-mixing" Ableton sets- ("Look- I can control where all my 23 loops start & stop!), and I've seen fantastic "finished track" DJing where the DJ was almost playing the crowd as a musical instrument.

    Terminology is important. You said, "some people with Traktor or Ableton Live supposedly doing “live PA” (some, not all) are basically just playing finished tracks."

    But you're shortchanging some (again, some, not all) people who "play finished tracks."

  • adamcee

    these videos were kinda lame. the lights from the second one were alright. epic fail for all cept mixxx.

  • James Raymond

    What I've been thinking about lately is an idea that would blur the concept of both Live PAs and DJing even further:

    Imagine performing a Live PA using two turntables and a mixer connected to a laptop running a DAW with all yours tracks split up over say 10 channels (kick, snare, lead, vocal etc) and using a 10 bank MIDI foot pedal you send channels to either deck A or deck B and instead of simply just scratching/beat juggling these elements of your track, you could use time coded vinyl to actually manipulate parameters in your DAW! Imagine manipulating filter cut-offs, beat-repeat parameters and MIDI mapped VST parameters with vinyl! and then imagine perfecting it! Hopefully it wont be long before this becomes reality.

  • notabuttonpusher

    i think this article would have been better without the firestarter Opinions that read like facts.

    how can you complain about djs who play finished tracks, that's the origins of djing. turntablism was born out of that by people looking to do new things, one isn't a more true form of djing then the other.

    sure you have "itune" djs in this new digital age but you also get "buttonpushing" turntablists.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Okay: I think people are getting set off by what I said, for some reason.

    I am not saying you can't play finished tracks. I just don't think you should call it "live PA" if you do that.

    And, come on, this is not about being anti-DJ. You guys have surely heard sets in which someone is playing tracks and *not doing anything with them*. I agree with what folks are saying here, so I think I was misunderstood and this is a false controversy.

    The one place where, fairly, I may have a bias: sure, I'd rather see someone go out with some loops and cue points and try something – and maybe not even do it perfectly – than not. But I had to re-read what I read here … I don't think I said anything out there or controversial. So let's chill. I agree with you, so this isn't going to be a very interesting debate. :)

    Oh, yeah, and as for all of the Jungleboy criticism — this is obviously just him screwing around with the thing. I think setting up some loops and cue points on the SCS looks like it could be fun. And it's scriptable on Mixxx. No need to read anything deeper into this story…

  • http://www.myspace.com/tooltablist Mudo

    Welcome to the Tooltablist (Free Creative Humans using tools for expressing themselves) Era.

    http://www.myspace.com/tooltablist

    Are you Free?

    Creative?

    Human?

    It's only a name "not the Gospel truth"… something for understand us as a "one brotherhood nation under the sky"

    My effors dedicated to Sijo Jun Fan Bruce Lee.

    R.I.P.

    PD: check this interview for understanding that you are discussing the same thing that he was talking 35 years ago.

    http://video.google.es/videoplay?docid=-570551858

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    I can put this more simply:

    I was criticizing live PA sets that aren't.

    People are reading that as a criticism of DJs.

    That's, like … opposite.

    As for jungleboy: it's okay to have fun screwing around, then practice that, then get that at the point where it's ready for a party. Kinda what we do, right?

    And Mudo — that's crazy. I like tooltablism. :)

  • Justin Reed

    Personally i think my korg nanopad is a much better drum trigger then this SC3. Though i admit I have issues getting a solid surface to position it on at the gigs…anyone got any tips for that?

    The way he uses it to browse his playlists is pretty cool though… like a big trackpad (+1)

    I think this guy has some decent scratch chops (with no comment to song selection)…computer geeks in glass houses shouldn't throw bricks!

  • http://dragonicaforum.com FreeMMORPG

    Wow.. thats a pretty interesting tool. would love to get hold of it!

  • http://fakebook.resonancemultimedia.com Johnny

    I think that's quite cool. Controlism/turtablism is still more fun to watch live than a laptop set, but I'd be happy to see an artist I respect do either.

  • http://andrew.hicox.com plurgid

    It’s a strange world, and what may ultimately happen is that we start to divide things between people who are making an effort to be musicians, good or bad, and people who aren’t.

    Yeah, I feel you.

    That's probably the part that's setting people's souls afire, though. Especially in a forum like this one.

    Electronics kind of divorce the physical performance skill from the act of making music,

    allowing us to be musicians without performance skills. More akin to composers than anything else.

    The fact that you can make a badassed track in the studio, but really don't have the skillz to "perform" it (by slicing it into loops and sequences and triggering them), and instead you just play the finished track in a set … I'm not sure that makes you less of a musician, especially not around here.

    Definitely makes you less of a performer though.

    If you wanna play out, just get a band together already … makes things easier if you don't have to do everything yourself :-)

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Actually, I think they probably *are* a musician. I'd defend that. I think the question is, if you plug into a speaker and stand up in a room of people, do you have something to say?

    I always thought composers were more broadly "musicians," and that musicianship can be expressed whether you're playing a violin or step sequencing. And so to the extent a DJ set or live PA set is about meta-composing, it can also be about musicianship, if there's something unique and personal there, if there's some kind of intent.

    Personally, I could care less if you say that by picking tracks or getting really involved with loops and instruments and wild controllers and the like. But you still hope people say *something*. So maybe that's the point I got lost and that made people (understandably, I suppose) angry.

  • streeeet

    Really, who cares? In the end, the crowd makes the decision on the entertainment. The average club goer won't be able to tell the difference. Now that's not to say people aren't taking advantage of that because there certainly is but this argument of laptop DJs vs turntables is as ridiculous as it gets.

    I personally use a laptop but not to be lazy. I use it because being able to not focus on the beat matching aspect allows me to worry more about doing other creative things with music and worry about controlling more aspects of my set. I use an APC and the reason I made the purchase was being able to be completely hands off from the laptop and fire off 8 different things at the same time. It becomes more engaging a lot more fun.

    I have been given flack by turntable DJs before and the response is always the same. I'll turn the equipment over to them and they can try and figure out what I'm exactly trying to do. Point is, if you have any integrity, it doesn't matter what you use. I've used turntables in the past but it's just not for me. Personal choice. No one listening seems to care.

  • Pingback: Turntablism in the Digital Age | HipHopProduction

  • http://www.huthead.com angkasuwan

    anything to promote creativity. most people, whether they're conscious of it or not, do recognize and appreciate live mixing.

  • http://spark.commandlineninja.ca spark

    adding now, more insecurity to the laptop musician who just can't seem to convince people that he/she is "live enough"

    but it's music, and expression and it's our time and generation.

    pick your fucking gizmo and have at it.

    Only hater, envious nerds give a shit about how "live" you are. Using concepts like "real" that they themselves don't even understand.

    No pleasing those who don't want to be pleased.

  • http://nwrecords.com gbsr

    "I’ll turn the equipment over to them and they can try and figure out what I’m exactly trying to do."

    so true man heh.

  • http://www.cooloutmusic.com coolout

    My only beef with this video is that I've been able to do this type of stuff (and a lot more) with Torq for years.

    Not to mention, the price of that setup is about 3-4 times greater that what I paid for my Torq and NanoKontrol.

    Do I need to make you guys some videos just so Torq gets some love on CDM?

  • nubee

    Can someone explain (nicely) what Live PA means? I'm not a musician and it's a new term to me. Thanks…

  • http://abrightfearlesssunrise.blogspot.com/ Birds Use Stars

    Some people are comfortable with different tools. Some people are comfortable rocking it with just a laptop, I can't do it. I tried, but I wasn't feeling it, I just felt like I was typing the whole time. I need something to hit, so I have drum pads. That doesn't mean I don't respect people that can do it with just the laptop, it's just not for me. Different tools for different people. SDC for some, nanopads for others.

  • http://abrightfearlesssunrise.blogspot.com/ Birds Use Stars

    @ Nubee, I'm not 100% but I'm fairly sure it stands for Live Performance Art, or something along those lines. Acronym aside, it just means playing in front of people.

  • Richard

    PA = Public Address

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Actually, I like Birds Use Stars' version much better! :)

    Okay, so maybe ultimately this means mostly Live PA is a terrible term.

    And yes, Torq can get love on CDM… tips / videos always welcome.

  • corticyte

    PA also means Public Appearance

    I personally think Mixxx sucks.. But then again I think that about every DJ software i've used except for Traktor… What do you think? For me nothing beats two CDJ-1000s and two Sl1200s into an A&H Xone:62. No computers please!

  • http://Abrightfearlesssunrise.blogspot.com Birds Use Stars

    I love my SL1200 too corticyte, but I only have one and it never leaves it's spot because it's like 3 million pounds. When I was in a "real" band we used to say that we were playing for fun, and gettig payed to lug gear around. Of course DJing at a club it's not as much a problem, nut it's still an issue otherwise.

    Thanks peter, I was partial to it too, even if it is wrong. : )

    From now on PA = Peterkirnmeanswellbut Alwayssomehowcutsreadersnerves?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Indeed. PA = Pleasedontfeel Antagonized? :)

  • Flick

    What i think is interesting is that at 2:25 (and other parts as well) he is seen twisting his body to look at something off to the left (his right). What is he lookin at? a lap top. what does he say in the next 5 secs. "Anything to keep me away from the computer im wit it." more like, anything to hide the computer im wit it.

  • http://www.4ormal.com formal

    Flick – I agree with the part about him just trying to hide his laptop. If he was using something other then time coded vinyl and instead he was live looping/cue points on the fly, that'd be much more impressive (a la DJ Krush).

  • http://www.myspace.com/tooltablist Mudo

    If you are Free Creative and Human using "anything" for perform you are a Anythablist.

    If you use players only for mix, you are boring but you still are respectable, of course.

    What's the problem about freedom to choice?

    Dogmatic Thought which pointing us towards void.

    Void of PA, void of money, void of happiness, void of sense…

    stop hate, start love (trought music playing in your "fucking" way ;)

    PD: When I say "fucking way" I'm not talking about tantra sex.
    :P

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Mudo: I can get behind that. Amen.

  • Pingback: Serato + Stanton SCS.3d = Futuro da discotecagem? « www.ilankriger.net

  • Greg

    So, somebody tell me how this is any different than any other USB/MIDI interface?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Greg: it's not.

    That's why having Mixxx MIDI scripting is cool – it works with anything.

  • http://regend.com regend

    i would argue that this isn't turntablism. i define turntablism as using two records and two turntables and a mixer to create a completely new song independent of the original source material…and doing it live with little or no effects or external devices. using kicks and snares and playing them out with the record instead of tapping them out on a controller is a better example.

    remixing is more likely a better description. when the Scratch Live software added Midi support the loop points and hidden eggs essentially turn the software into a loop device and stripped down sampler….it's probably better to use one of the akai pad controllers.

  • dj dub c

    wow, now i see, im startin to do the same thing with my laptop on the fly with virtual dj, i didnt know the scs 3d was that serious………..