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"The Philharmonic Turntable Orchestra" Recently Curated By Technics, Envisioned 22 Years Ago By Ensemble Participant DJ QBert

Posted by Billyjam, March 22, 2018 05:27pm | Post a Comment
The Philharmonic Turntable Orchestra feat. D-Styles, QBert, Kentaro, Rena, Mr.Switch, DJ Swamp, DJ Ken-one, Kireek (DJ Yasa/DJ Hi-C), Izoh, Generation, Bahn, Baku,  Bori, Bunta, Dom-Auto, Doon, Fummy, Hiroshi, Ina Takayuki, Jifrock, Miyajima, Reiko, Sarasa, Shota,To-Ru, Wa-ta, Yone, & You-ki


This week in Japan both classical music history and turntablist music history were made with turntable manufacturer Technics publishing the above Philharmonic Turntable Orchestra video clip of a truly landmark performance of the 31 DJ member ensemble of the "world’s first turntable orchestra.” Including such turntable talents as  D-Styles, DJ QBert, Kentaro DJ Swamp, and DJ Rena ( the 12 year old Japanese DJ who won the most recent 2017 DMC World Championship), the two-and-a-half dozen tuxedo-groomed DJ artists performed a sonically pleasing neu-classical skratch piece utliizing as their tools: mixers and Technics 1200's (no laptops) while reconstructing the sounds of eight different classical records that included the first ever 12" Long Playing (LP) vinyl record from 1948; Nathan Milstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Mendelssohn Concerto in E Minor.

As the turntable manufacturer outlined on its website, Technics assembled a premiere orchestra scale ensemble to curate an historic groundbreaking event; one that coincides with the 70th anniversary of the vinyl LP. However the concept of such a "turntable orchestra" performance is not new. Rather it was predicted exactly 22 years ago by DJ QBert; the co-founding member of the Bay Area's pioneering turntablist group the Invisibl Skratch Piklz. That prediction came back in March 1996 (a time when the concept of the DJ as fully fledged musician was not as widely embraced a concept as today) when the Daly City star DJ sat down for an interview with California DJ/journalist Mike Salamida (aka DJ Stoic) for the Daily Aztec. For that in-depth interview two plus decades ago, the triple time world DJ champion took the conversation deep into musical theory. He explained how, via the proper turntable/mixer manipulation of a record, that the turntable can be transformed into a bona-fide musical instrument like a saxophone or guitar. Q also broke down the parallels between turntablism and jazz, describing his and his improvisational DJ crew's music as "turntable jazz." Note how at that same time of this interview Qbert's fellow Piklz crew member DJ Apollo was on the other side of the country in New York City, recording with jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis for his second Buckshot LeFonque project album Music Evolution, to drop a year later.

1996 was still two years before the release of DJ QBert's landmark, sample-free, all turntable constructed solo album Wave Twisters and its consequent spinoff award-winning animated movie Wave Twisters, but QBert confidently predicted a culturally accepting future for this still fresh young hip-hop musical sub-genre of the turntable as an instrument, describing it as, "at the kindergarten level right now. It'll keep evolving." The DJ born Richard Quitevis predicted a future in which he envisioned, "world tours someday, even a turntable orchestra!" "The word's gotten out about turntable artistry," he observed back in early 1996. "Now it's on to bigger things. I'd just be like an ambassador of Hip-Hop and teach the turntable as an instrument." All of this QBert has accomplished, and all he predicted has become a reality. Scroll down to see the second video released by Technics this week which takes a behind the scenes look at The Philharmonic Turntable Orchestra.


From a music history point of view, it should also be noted how back in 2005 that Arizona percussionist-turned-turntablist DJ Radar collaborated with a full traditional orchestra at Carnegie Hall to perform Concerto For Turntable, something similarly repeated three years ago in 2015 by Mr. Switch (another DJ participant in the new Technics project) when he collaborated with the 68 member State Youth Orchestra of Armenia. Both of these however featured just the one DJ paired with full traditional orchestras. Also worth noting, from a music history terminology perspective, is how  the term “Scratch Orchestra” (that's already been used by some to describe The Philharmonic Turntable Orchestra) originated five decades ago in the UK by Cornelius Cardew during his 'Experimental Music' class at London's Morley College. Although it had nothing to do with DJ scratching on turntables (just a coincidence) back in 1969 Cardew, along with Michael Parsons and Howard Skempton,  created The Scratch Orchestra as an experimental musical ensemble that would entail, "a large number of enthusiasts pooling their resources (not primarily material resources) and assembling for action (music-making, performance, edification)." IE: it was essentially a non traditional freeform jam session of classical music that leaned on the jazz style of improvisation rather than the traditional extremely strict confines of classical. One of The Scratch Orchestra participants was Philip Dadson who would return the following year to his native New Zealand where he established the NZ Scratch Orchestra that a few years later evolved into the avant-classical group From Scratch.


Behind the Beats of the Turntable Orchestra (2018): the world's first ensemble performance using only turntables and mixers. The Philharmonic Turntable Orchestra created a whole new music experience, reconstructing classical music by playing vinyl records with a variety of musical techniques and an ensemble featuring D-Styles, Qbert (1992-1994 DMC World Champion), Mr.Switch (2014 DMC World Champion), DJ  Swamp (1996 DMC World Champion), Kentaro (2002 DMC World Champion), Yasa (2007-2011 DMC World Team Champion as KIREEK), Hi-C (2007-2011 DMC World Team Champion as KIREEK) Yasa (2007-2011 DMC World Team Champion as KIREEK) on SL-1200MK3D Hi-C (2007-2011 DMC World Team Champion as KIREEK), Izoh (2012 DMC World Champion), Rena (2017 DMC World Champion)  Generation, Bahn, Baku,  Bori, Bunta, Dom-Auto, Doon, Fummy, Hiroshi, Ina Takayuki, Jifrock, Ken-one, Miyajima, Reiko, Sarasa, Shota,To-Ru, Wa-ta, Yone, & You-ki


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