Theory of Motions

-Abstract Volume 1Alexander Sonnenfeld
Translated by Dan Leach and Patricia & Timothy Werner





Regarding the Paper of this Work
System of S-notation

Acoustic Motions

Motion Direction
Motion Value
Motion Intensity


Motion Characteristic


Double Grouping
Triple Grouping



Linear Characteristic
Non-Linear Characteristic



Tonal Principle
Variable Principle

Anatonic Stages
Anatonic Code
Anatonic Course

Dynamic Motion

Motion Direction


Motion Duration
Motion Intensity
Motion Characteristic


Open Motion
Close Motion
Open & Close Motion
Close & Open Motion
The Transformer
Reverse Transformer

Linear Characteristic
Non-Linear Characteristic







Videos & Downloads

All rights reserved by Alexander Sonnenfeld (2016)

You are about to encounter a favorable mix of music theory at its most formal – music notation – and a musical
genre that remains to be an opposing force to any established musical form – turntablism. You will also see a
remarkably successful example of turning theory into useful practice. Whether the reason that you read this is
because you are a DJ, a music scholar, a tutor, a hip-hop fan, a contemporary culture reader, a system designer, or
just plain interested, you will be struck by the extensiveness of Alexander Sonnenfeld’s S-Notation system for
transcribing scratch performances. He has developed the system during several years, and it has been a privilege
to follow its maturation to what it has become.
Theorizing and studying DJ-made music was for long a relatively lonely endeavor: in 1997, when I started my
university degree project on understanding what scratching DJs really do, there were few sources of information
to fnd, and none academically reliable, and there was little general interest in hip-hop music as a scholarly
subject. During my doctoral studies, the number of published studies increased a bit, although most had focus on
technology and the interface. In my 2010 thesis entitled “The acoustics and performance of DJ scratching.
Analysis and modeling”, there is a chapter (5.3) devoted to music notation. It is very short. By the year 2007, only
four systems based on traditional notation had been published: Doc Rice (1998), Hansen (1999), Radar (2000),
and Webber (2007). These systems were simple compared to S-Notation which was introduced in 2009. Two
graphical systems were suggested by A-Trak (2000), and Raedawn`s & Carluccio’s TTM (2000); TTM resembled
guitar tablature notation.
Why then do we need to fnd a notation format? The music and culture of hip-hop do not really encourage one
such, if we read Katz (2012). According to a small study in my thesis, only 23% of the asked DJs had ever used one
(Hansen, 2010). Sophy Smith (2006) gave fve main functions of turntable notation: 1) for communicating musical
ideas, 2) for documentation, 3) for composition, 4) for making scratching a legitimate musical practice, and 5) for
analyzing and understanding. The thesis you are about to read addresses all, although one can hope that the
fourth item should be unnecessary! But it is also worthwhile to fip the question: why should there not be a
notation format? Music notation is despite its many and known shortcomings the acknowledged method for
addressing Smith’s points above for (nearly) all other instruments in the world of music. Although my personal
academic interest barely stretches beyond the scratching activity of a DJ – and this is also where I consider SNotation to be most applicable and effcient – the system leaves headroom for other kinds of instruments and
musical directions. These can be within the scope of NIMEs (New Interfaces for Musical Expression), within the
concept of controllerism, or any other derivative of DJ-made music than scratching. Finding purposeful notation
that can cover what traditional notation misses is still a major concern in musicology. With S-Notation, we have a
new contender to be reckoned with, and which is waiting to be scrutinized.
The other direction this thesis takes is to incorporate the whole notation system in the larger context of tutoring
and skill practice. In my doctoral work I stated that despite that DJing and scratching had been widely popular
since the 1980s, there were few books on learning how to DJ, and I speculated it was because hip-hop was
opposing the established culture, so that a scholarly take on hip-hop would fail. However, there have been other
ways of learning, most notably self-produced teaching material published freely within the DJ communities,
instructional videos from competitions, DJs and companies (e.g., Technics DMC World, 2005; DJ Q-bert, 2003,
2005; Scratch DJ Academy, 2003; Shure, 2001; Vestax, 1997). In following years a great number of educational
books were published (see for instance, Brewster and Broughton, 2002; Frederikse and Sloly, 2003; Sloly and
Frederikse, 2004; Webber, 2007; DJ Chuck Fresh, 2004; Slaney, 2006; Steventon, 2006; Wood, 2006). However,
these handbooks mostly give advice on general aspects of being a DJ, and very little has been published on the
actual skill learning itself. As far as I can judge, this is the frst systematic approach comparable to classics such as
Arban’s for trumpet players or Jeanjean’s Vademecum for clarinetists.
One reason that this approach is benefcial is that the playing techniques of scratching are very well defned,
almost as made for studying. Some of the work in Hansen (1999) involved classifying the different techniques as
they were described in various sources at the time (e.g. in videos, internet communities, and by performers). The
classifcation was based on looking at which controllers that were operated in the combination of hand
movements. Basically, there are single- and two-handed techniques, where two-handed means one hand controls
the crossfader and one hand the record movement. Based on the reported fndings, a typical (two-handed)
technique would

have precisely defned gestures,

consists of a forward–backward movement of the vinyl record in combination with a synchronized
crossfader movement,

have a duration corresponding to less than an eighth-note,

have the sound turned on–off a couple of times, silence the record direction change with the crossfader,

have a record movement span of 30-40 degrees, manipulate a single-onset, vocal sound sample, play the
sample from the start.

Interestingly, the defnition or naming of a technique is never dependent on what sample is chosen, on the
playing position in the sample, on the size of the record movement, on using the crossfader, line fader or line
switch, or even on the duration of the scratch. Instead, failing to attune these parameters will render a sound that
cannot be recognized as the aimed-at technique. On the other hand, producing a sound that resembles a
technique, but doing so by other means than the defned gestures (such as using a multi-onset sound to produce
tone attacks instead of using crossfader movements), is not an acceptable way to play the technique.
Thanks to the beauty of the notation, the detailed description of the method, and not least the convincing
examples of using it in daily practice, the thesis you soon will start reading will surely get a future status as a classic
in modern music tuition. Hopefully it will aid the aspiring DJ musicians to acquire skills that will again move the
whole culture forward, and it will provide material for academics like myself to indulge in!
Happy reading!
Kjetil Falkenberg Hansen, Ph.D and Senior researcher, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm, Sweden

1. Introducing
Over the years, playing pre-recorded audio samples has become an integral part of music culture. What was once
the guitar or drums is now, for many, the turntable or MIDI controller. The DJ is the most common representative
of live performance of sample-based music, spinning genres such as hip hop, house, trap and dub. The DJ’s skills
can range from compiling and mixing records, to the more technically demanding turntablism and controllerism.
The focus of this paper is turntablism. This term describes the manipulation of a record on a turntable in sync with
the faders on a mixer to produce rhythmical sounds. The DJ manually adjusts the speed and direction of the
record while muting and unmuting the sound using the crossfader and line-fader of a DJ mixer.
Despite having millions of fans, turntablism has rarely been a subject for academia and cannot be studied at music
university. This is due to its short history compared to other classical forms of musicianship and the lack of
scientifc analysis, educational books and academics who are profcient musicians and who also play
professionally. As such, the practical and theoretical development of turntablism has only been explored by selftaught non-academics and there still remains a great deal to be said.
The following paper, entitled The Theory of Motions, is also written by someone who is self-taught. Presented
here are the frst foundations for the analysis of turntablism based on a specially designed music theory and
playing method.
At this point we might legitimately ask the question: if computers can trigger audio samples to play whatever and
whenever we want, so why do we need a turntablist to do it by hand and why create a notational system for it?
Like any instrumentalist, the turntablist uses human motor skills to create sounds and this lends the artform value
that extends beyond the capabilities of a computer. Although the rhythmic sterility of a computer or software can
be humanized through various computer tricks such as randomization, it is not comparable with this human
variable. It lacks the imperfection of emotionally controlled processes; in other words it lacks a heartbeat.
This is the notation of a global communications medium for the composition, archiving, replication and systematic
analysis of music. We are, in a sense, decoding the DNA of the turntablist’s musicianship and providing a way to
visualize it. Allowing the DJ to read and write music gives them a higher awareness of the theory and an effcient
way of teaching and learning.
Alexander Sonnenfeld
ADVICE: All words in red in this document are linked to YouTube showing the instrumental performance of the
notational indication..

1.1 Regarding the Thesis of this Work

During this thesis we will need to refer frequently to the turntablist’s instruments – the turntable and DJ mixer. To
avoid confusion between different manufacturing models, we will use a hybrid of the mixer and turntable in the
form of the Tonspielzeug shown below.


diverse adapters/plugs


on/off button


control disk/plate


start/stop (forward)


crossfader (horizontal)


pitcher (vertical)





The following basic analyses are linked with demonstration videos of the techniques how they are notated. You
can watch the disk and fader movements separately as well as in combination. The sample audio (shown below)
used for the upcoming analyses is the word “fresh” from the sentence: “ahhh, this stuff is really fresh”, taken from
B-side of the 1982 record Change the Beat by Fab Five Freddy.

But before we begin, we should examine the structure of the sample. Based on a tempo of 75 beats per minute
(BPM), the sample is equivalent to one beat lasting 0.8 sec. In classical notation we call this beat a quarternote (socalled because usually there would be four beats to each bar). Graphical waveforms will be used for most of the
notational examples to allow you to visualize the sound produced and understand how the various techniques
affect the sound over time. An example of this would be the difference between moving the disk forwards and
NB: The videos to accompany this thesis can be found on the website:

1.2 System of S-Notation
S-Notation is a written transcription method which uses notational symbols to describe the techniques of a
turntablist. The end product of these techniques is the modulation of certain parameters of recorded sound
material resulting in a new method of making music.
What are the challenges of creating a methodology for this kind of unprecedented music? Firstly, because the
sample might have no discernable pitch or timbre, as in the case of ambient noise or spoken words, it does not
allow for a predetermined pitch range.
Also, because the samples used are all pre-recorded, the following musical parameters have to be considered in
the transcription methodology: time value, pitch, and volume. The purpose of written music is to enable a
musician to make a sound and consistently repeat it and this requires two things. The frst is that the sound itself
must be the same each time. The second is that the individual techniques on the instrument must be subject to an
order, a series of principles which can be understood and applied correctly.
In classical musical notation both prerequisites are frmly met because the movement on a keyboard or string is
always linked to a certain tone or pitch. It is therefore possible to notate the tone based on the positioning of the
note inside a musical staff (NB: the staff or stave is the set of horizontal lines seen in traditional notation – the
position of a symbol on these lines denotes the pitch of the note to be played).
Making music with random sound material, however, does not allow for such a method. It is particularly diffcult to
capture the broad pitch range produced by the motion of the disk. For this reason, S-Notation describes only the
manual motion on the disk and faders as a sort of Theory of Motions. To assist in this, the well known audio
recording of particular scratches help the player to get a familiarity with the respective notated patterns.
Due to the enormous repertoire of turntablism techniques, it is essential to sketch a sort of classifcation of the
instrument set-up (fader, disk, controller, etc.) to understand how it infuences specifc musical parameters of the
sound material.

Acoustic Motions

- Movement of the control disk (changing the speed or direction) to
change the pitch of the sound

Dynamic Motions

- Line fader or crossfader movements to change the volume.

Frequency Motions

- Movement of the fader or rotary dial to cut or boost certain

Panning Motions

- Movement of the panoramic dial to spread the sound across the
stereo feld.

Effects Motions

- Movement of the fader or rotary dial to change the intensity of
various audio effects (reverb, delay, distortion, etc.).

Each of these so-called 'parameter motions' adjusts the sound characteristics of the sample. The 'acoustic
motions' parameter is the most important because all the others either refer to the physical movement of the
'control disk', or are dependent on it.
All of the aforementioned parameter motions are separated into 'motion types': 'single motions', 'integral
motions' and 'groups of motions'. They are the fundamental principles of a composition and the Theory of
Motions aims to represent them by notational symbols.
Every 'type of motion' is subject to a unique architecture which is defned by the 'motion criteria': 'direction', 'time
value', 'intensity' and 'characteristic'. S-Notation is a transcription methodology from which you can read all
'motion criteria' based on the principles of music theory. As in classical notation, the shape of the symbol and the
position inside the staff determines the action the musician should take. The following schema shows the
components of the S-notation system:

2. Acoustic Motions
2.1 Motion Direction

This describes the direction in which the 'control disk' is moved, forwards (clockwise) or backwards (anticlockwise), with each direction resulting in a different sound. Combinations of these two single motions' can
produce complex patterns which we will refer to as 'integral acoustic motions' or 'groupings'.

'Single acoustic motion' (Forward)

'Single acoustic motion (backward)

The above diagrams show how the change in direction of the control disk affects the visual waveform.
When playing the sample, the turntablist can affect the sound by touching the disk with his or her hand, usually on
the left side. The purpose is to speed up, slow down or add pauses, thus producing a change in pitch and rhythm.
We will refer to this as 'hand mode'.
Alternatively, he or she can simply let the disk move forward, letting the sample play without manual interference.
We will describe this as 'release mode' since the turntablist is releasing the disk and letting the turntable play
naturally under the power of the motor.
It should be noted that the motor of the Tonspielzeug will usually spin the disk clockwise (forwards). But it can be
set in reverse before or even during the performance using the controls of the Tonspielzeug.
For now we will concentrate on these two basic forms. Additional techniques will be described later on. The
differences between both techniques are very noticeable and sound different when played, even with the same
'motion criteria'.
To indicate the direction of the disk we use two symbols for 'hand mode' and two more for 'release mode'. To
mark the forward motion in 'hand mode' we use a symbol that is similar to classical notation: it consists of a head
which faces to the right in an upward fashion with a stem. This shall be referred to as a Note. The backwards
motion will be denoted by a mirror image of the symbol (as shown below). This will be referred to as Eton - Note
spelt backwards.

Hand mode 1/4 note

Hand mode 1/4 eton

The direction of the note head denotes the direction in which the player should move the disk. When a Note or
Eton is placed on or above the center line, the stem is placed on the left (Note), or on the right (Eton) of the head
and goes down. Conversely,when the symbol is placed under the center line, the stem is placed on the right
(Note) of the symbol and goes up! Release Mode is denoted by the same symbols (Note or Eton) but instead of an
angular head there is a round head.

Release mode 1/4 note

Release mode 1/4 eton

Depending on whether the control disk is going forwards or backwards, the stem is ether on the left or right side
of the head. With Notes on the third line and above, the stems will be point upwards and will be attached on the
right side of the head, for Etons the opposite. The remaining criteria for the techniques are based on the symbol
of the 'hand mode' but there are no diffculties in transferring these criteria to the 'release mode'. It even produces
a different acoustic result.

2.1 Motion Value

'Acoustic motions' can be performed in different time values. To indicate the different duration forms, the same
system as classical music notation is used. In a whole Note/Eton, the head is the only component of the symbol.
Shorter 'acoustic motions' requires a stem, and possible beams or fags.

1/2 Note

1/16 Note

1/2 Eton

1/16 Eton

As in classicial music notation, dots and ties can be used to stretch the duration of a Note or Eton.

2.3 Motion Intensity
The intensity of motion is the speed of the control disk while moving it forwards or backwards. Through this
parameter the player infuences the pitch of the sound. We call this process “pitching”. There are solid physical
properties between the sample tune and the duration of the sample which have to be considered in the
transcription method.
As a control disk offers quite a variety of performance and playing options, there is an equal variety of options to
modify the original sound material, including a high range of pitch bend. The player can move the disk by hand
extremely slowly or really fast, but it is quite diffcult to produce a constant pitch during the practical conversion.
By using the pitch controller,an exact adjustment of the speed for longer periods is possible. In doing so, the
player can easily derive fxed values of tone pitch, based on the percentage of speed increase or decrease of the
record movement. In the chart below you can see the scale of pitch shifting based on a sample which was
recorded originally in a C1 pitch tone.






200,0 %
188,8 %
178,2 %
168,2 %
158,7 %
149,8 %
141,4 %
133,5 %
126,0 %
118,9 %
112,2 %
105,9 %
100,0 %
94,40 %
89,10 %
84,10 %
79,40 %
74,90 %
70,70 %
66,70 %
63,00 %
59,50 %
56,10 %
53,00 %
50,00 %

100,0 %
88,8 %
78,2 %
68,2 %
58,7 %
49,8 %
41,4 %
33,5 %
26,0 %
18,9 %
12,2 %
5,90 %
0,00 %
-5,60 %
-10,9 %
-15,9 %
-20,6 %
-25,1 %
-29,3 %
-33,3 %
-37,0 %
-40,5 %
-43,9 %
-47,0 %
-50,0 %

However, it is much more diffcult to alter the pitch of the sample into another by playing it in 'hand mode' as
Notes or Etons. A lot of manual training is required to control the movement of the disk accurately as well as a
perfect sense of hearing to transpose the base material.
By working with sound material with a ‘pure’ pitch, it is fairly simple to create a notational transcription
methodology to recreate them. It is similar to classical music notation in which the position of the symbol (Notes or
Etons) on the staff ndicates the pitch.
The S-clef symbol is used to indicate that the traditional staff system is being used to describe the 'acoustic
motions'. It is placed at the beginning of the staff and all symbols which represent the disk movement have to be
written down in this staff. The letter S (sample) represents motion and symbolizes the main parameter of the
'acoustic motion'. In this way the staff system describes the movement of the record to be executed on the
Tonspielzeug. This system requires an understanding of two principles: the classical 'tonal principle', which details
the use of the S-clef and the 'variable principle' which will be explained later on.

2.3.1 Tonal Principle

As you can see in the above diagram, the F-S-Clef has a small black circle either on the top or bottom of the S
symbol which serves as a reference point to denote where the F note is. This is just like the normal F-Clef where
the line denoting the note F runs between the two dots of the symbol. In the same way, for the G-S Clef the black
circle at the bottom of the S symbol shows the position of the pitch G1 (on a piano keyboard this would be the
note G in the frst octave), the same pitch as a traditional G-clef. The key differences between the S-clef and the
traditional clef is (1) the S-clef describes recorded sounds as opposed to single ‘unrecorded’ notes as in traditional
music notation, and (2) a Note on the S-clef can describe a complex phrase (spoken word or drum break) whereas
traditional notation it always indicates a single note. To ensure communication with traditional musicians, most of
the rules of modern notation apply for S-notation, for example: bars, time signature, pauses, accidental etc...
Using the symbol for Eton it is possible to write a counter movement for every sample. To name Etons based on
the pitch, the minus sign is used, as shown in the chromatic scale.


As such, it is now possible to create chords on the Tonspielzeug by using the Eton instead of a Note. To gain an
understanding of this statement you can see some variations of the C-major triad in the following notation. More
variations can be seen in this video.
C-major triad

However, the turntablist has at his or her disposal many more types of samples than only simple sounds with
recognisable pitches. Noises, human and animal voices, beat fragments or whole musical phrases with an
unidentifable pitch are all within scope of the instrument. So how can we notate the sound envelope or pitch
range and how can we subdivide the lines and distances of this S-Notation system to indicate the 'motion
intensity' applied to the disk, based on the position of Notes or Etons?
The solution is very simple. We subdivide the line system based on predetermined levels of 'motion intensity' or
pitch ranges. The reference point for this is always the original speed of the sound material (100%) which is
represented by the middle line of the staff. Based on this, it is possible to derive an increase or decrease of the
'motion intensity' due to the position of the symbols above or below the center line of the system.

2.3.2 Variable Principle

Because any kind of sample can be used, a universal system of notation is impossible. Instead, we must adjust the
notation to the character of the individual sample. The way the turntablist plays the instrument depends on the
character of the sound material and what kind of result is desired. By trial and error the player can fgure out what
sounds the best.
Using this method we can create an individual scale depending on the composition (this is what is meant by the
'variable principle'). To ensure suffcient scope for all possible degrees of pitch (there are seven degrees in the
diatonic scale) three line systems are provided as you can see in the image. The whole tonal scope of the 'variable
principle' is subdivided into 24 degrees (each denoting a change of 10%) labelled with characters from the
alphabet. Etons are indicated by a minus sign.

Our demonstration sample has an original time value of 0.8 seconds (100% speed) which is a quarternote in a
tempo of 75 bpm. In the image below you can see the increase and decrease in the time value of the sound. This
can be prevented by using a time-stretch effect if the turntablist‘s equipment allows for it. In the chapter entitled
'Anatonie' a simple notational methodology is presented which takes this into account when the piece is played.

2.4 Motion Characteristic

Different movements of the disk produce different pitches. In S-Notation these movements are divided into two
fundamental forms: 'linear motion characteristic' and 'non-linear characteristic'.

2.4.1 Linear Characteristic

The 'linear characteristic' defnes a constant level of speed, irregardless of whether the disk is played in 'release'
or 'hand mode'. To indicate this 'type of motion' we need no additional sign in the transcription. The pure symbol
for a Note or Eton indicates this type of 'motion characteristic' and always defnes a constant level of speed. So a
Note or Eton always indicates a 'linear characteristic' of the 'acoustic motion'.

2.4.2 Non-Linear Characteristic

All forms of 'non-linear motion characteristics' require additional symbols which have to be applied to the
respective Note or Eton heads. Due to the large number of possibilities, we will tackle just the most fundamental
characteristics. The frst form is the 'linear increase' and the 'linear decrease' which defnes a constant level of
increasing or decreasing of the speed of the record motion.
Linear decreasing

Linear increasing

The position of the symbol (Note or Eton) within the staff defnes the degree of 'motion intensity' (M = 100%) of
the disk from the start. The additional symbol which is attached to the head of the Note or Eton denotes the fnal
'motion intensity' which is indicated by the little 'motion point'. This shows the 'linear decrease' from (M) 100% to
(S) 60% and 'linear increase' from from (M) 100% to (S) 160%.
As you can see from the image, the graphical waveform of the sample is stretched from 0.8s to 0.9s by
including a linear decrease 'motion characteristic'. The result is a cut of 0.1s of the sound material by
playing a Note or Eton in a time value of a quarter (ie. the sample is played more slowly thus stretching it
out – but since it remains a quarternote a small part is cut). Conversely, with a linear increase 'motion
characteristic' the sound material is contracting from 0.8s to 0.61s and that means playing a quarter note
(or Eton) in this type of 'non-linear characteristic' contains a pause of 0.19s after the acoustic was heard
(ie. the sample is played more quickly therefore fnishes early and leaves a pause).
This is an example which shows that the time value of the disk motion is not necessarily linked with the sound

Other forms of 'non-linear motion characteristic' are the 'exponential' and 'logarithmic increase' or 'decrease'. As
seen, we have to use additional symbols which are attached to the heads of the Note or Eton to denote these
types of motion. The graphical shape of these lines gives some indication about the course of the disk motion and
the speed at the beginning and end.

Logarithmic decreasing

Logarithmic increasing

Exponential decreasing

Exponential increasing

These variations cover the basic 'motion characteristics' and demonstrate how S-Notation works. In a way,
attempting to apply music theory to the fexibility of the 'control disk' is like nailing jello to the wall. But with the
knowledge we have obtained so far, we are a considerable step closer to achieving this. By carefully breaking
things down it is possible to defne and represent even the most complicated pattern.

2.5 Grouping
A fundamental element of S-Notation is the classifcation and notation of 'acoustic motions' (disk movements). It is
the arrangement of 'acoustic motions' using a turntable that creates a musical pattern, exemplifed by techniques
such as 'babies' or 'tears'.
Because the musical output does not ft an ordinary scale, we need to think differently about the term ‘melody’.
We need an underlying principle to provide the basis of a universal method of composition, which works
irregardless of the characteristics of the sound material. This principle should help the player to capture the
different turntablism techniques which otherwise could not be defned in the context of a classical, tune-based
music. With a regular instrument, such as a piano or trumpet, every sound starts at the beginning of the waveform
(ie the transient). However, a musician using the Tonspielzeug can play the sample from any point within that
sample – in other words from any chronological position. Furthermore, he or she can also play it in several stages.
This kind of a combination is called ‘grouping’.
Let’s say we start from the beginning of the sample and move the record forward three times by pausing between
the movements. This method produces three sounds instead of one - in turntablism this method is called ‘tearing’
and means nothing more than grouping more than one 'acoustic motion' into a musical pattern.
On a traditional instrument you can group a sound by repeating it several times, but the chronological position
(always from the beginning) is still the same. The turntablist also has the option of playing this way by silencing the
backward motion of the disk using the crossfader.
To denote the 'grouping' of more than one 'acoustic motion' through ‘tearing’ the sound, we use the ‘anatonic
curvature’ or ‘slur’ which connects the respective symbols as shown in the image. The traditional method, in
which we play the sound from the beginning or from the same chronological position, requires no additional sign.

Motion pattern (traditional)

Motion Pattern (group)

The demonstration video and the image of the waveform shows us how this happens in practice and the sound
produced. The traditional method is like pushing the button on a sampler in a time value of 1/16. By imitating this
playing style, the turntablist has to use the crossfader to silence the backward motion, which is necessary to get
back to the initial point and repeat the pattern and requires lots of practice.
The tear variation (group) consists in this example of three 1/16 Notes which are connected by a slur. This
transcription method gives an indication that we have to play all Notes of the sound consecutively as a group
(short pauses between all these steps gives the impression that we produce three tones). Due to the entire length
of the sample (1/4) we play about 75% of the sound as you can see in the image of the waveform. In this video you
can see another variation of this type of pattern.
We can now deduce one important fact: 'acoustic motions' connected by a slur indicate a 'group' and we have to
play this like a 'tear' pattern. Two 'anatonic slurs' together indicates a legato playing style, so we move the record
in one motion without any steps, rather than tearing the sound.
This type of notation is necessary to describe different parts of the record motion divided by crossfader
techniques and is also discussed in the chapter ‘Dynamic Motions’. Next we learn more simple underlying
principles of S-Notation which are required to give some order to the many groups of 'acoustic motions'.

2.5.1 Double Grouping
Perhaps the most recognised sonic trademark of scratching is the “wiggy wiggy“ sound, known as the "baby
scratch" technique in turntablism. This playing style is a combination of Note and Eton, or Eton and Note ("reverse
baby scratch") as a group of two 'single motions' with the same pitch and duration.
In S-Notation we defne this as an 'integral motion' which has its own symbol. These motions are called NOTETON
(Note + Eton) and ETONOTE (Eton + Note). To simplify the notation, each symbol (Noteton and Etonote) is

Noteton (Note + Eton)

Etonote (Eton + Note)

The head of a Noteton is exactly the same as a Note (pointing to the right and upwards). This symbol is a
replacement for the stem. Playing an Etonote is symbolised by the same head as an Eton, but the placement of the

stem is different. As shown in the image, a 1/8 Noteton or Etonote consists of two 'single acoustic motions' with a

1/16 duration each. A basic prerequisite for this is that the two individual movements have identical criteria
(duration and volume) and the same 'anatonic start' and ' - end point'. The notation shows the identical 'motion
criteria' of the sum of individual movements.
All 'groups' are numbered with 'motion code' to defne the type of group. The frst number of this code is the
number of all 'acoustic motions' in the entire pattern. The subsequent numbers ONLY denote counter-motions (ie.
disk movements that run in the opposite direction to the original). If subsequent movements are in the same
direction as the original movement then they will not be specifed in the 'motion code').
For example, if we start a two-note sequence with a Note, the number ‘2’ must be written and if we start with an
Eton we have to add a minus sign in front. The second number identifes an 'acoustic motion' (ie disk movement)
which is played in the opposing direction (2-2 or -2-2). When we play a group of two 'acoustic motions' which all
have the same direction, we only write the frst number (2 or -2), because there is no counter motion inside the

The diagram shows selected examples of 2-2 or -2-2 groups with different criteria. But there is one constant
applied to all notational indications — the use of slurs to form a group. In the last example (right side) you can
detect two slurs which indicate that all 'acoustic motions' have to be played in legato.

2.5.2 Triple Grouping
Here are some examples of groups which consist of three 'acoustic motions', played subsequently as one
comprehensive pattern. Note especially that the 'motion code' below identifes the arrangement of the 'acoustic
motions' of the pattern.

In the '3-2-3 group', you can see that the stem of the last 'acoustic motion' is drawn substantially thicker than the
other ones. This is a special transcription method which indicates the initial point of the frst 'acoustic motion', after
we have fnished the last motion on the record. That allows us to repeat the whole sequence from the beginning.
As you can see in the notation there are lots of conventional signs (eg. accentuation, triplet) taken from
classical music notation which can also be applied or used in S-notation.
In this section we have seen that the musical output of turntablism is primarily based on generating 'groups of
motions' on the record or on the fader. These are the building blocks for composition and this system gives order
to the playing techniques. This will be even clearer when we transfer this method to other parameters of the
instrument. Here we only deal with 'acoustic - ' and 'dynamic motion'. All the other parameters will be explained

3. Anatonie
Anatonie is based on the term "anatomy" from biology and describes the way in which the audio sample (or
"sound organism") can be broken down by the turntablist into its component parts. The disk’s range of motion
allows the player access to any point in the entire length of a sample, thus adding extra dimensions to making
We want to be able to describe, through musical notation, the temporal or 'anatonic stages' of the sound. We do
this by marking the 'acoustic motions', which can apply to any part of the sample due to the expressive range of
the instrument. There is no predefned method of playing, since this is subject to the structure of the individual
sound material. So before, we can begin, we have to analyse the entire audio sample step by step.


The length of the sample is divided into eight equal 'anatonic stages' with an arrow to show the 'motion direction'.
A sticker placed on the control disk can be used as a unique visual reference point to locate quickly and precisely
the player’s position among the 'anatonic stages', like the hand of a clock. In practice, the turntablist will locate the
frst part of the audio sample and set the starting position to a point on the ‘clock’. Moving ‘three hours’ forward
from nine o’clock the sample will play from the beginning of the sample to the end. If you start with an Eton, the
reference point will start at 12 o'clock (the end of the sample) and move the 'control disk' anti-clockwise to nine
Marking the sample on the 'control disk' is necessary since the Tonspielzeug itself contains no sounds. With most
traditional instruments it is obvious how to make a sound, whereas the Tonspielzeug must always be prepared
according to the audio sample used - new music requires a new methodology!

3.1 Anatonic Stages

After preparing the audio sample we need to defne the 'anatonic stages' for the notation. In this case the sample
is 0.8 seconds long with a tempo of 75bpm and a 'motion intensity' of 100% (meaning the speed of the disk is
normal).This is represented by three hours on the clock face (9-12), in other words a "quarter".



Anatonic stages



Anatonic stages

The full duration (or 'motion value') of the Note is 0.8s – this is effectively one beat or, as typically defned in

traditional notation, a quarternote (1/4 ). If we divide this into eight equal stages of 0.1 seconds then each stage
can be referred to as a 1/32nd. The 'motion value' of the disk motion impacts the length of the sample. When you

play a 1/8 , you generate 0.4s of the sample.
Note: the numbering of the 'anatonic stages', from one to eight, is very important. In future descriptions you will
see that this allows us to describe exactly each section played.

We use a color scheme to distinguish the individual stages which relates to the colors on the Tonspielzeug*. With
this guide the turntablist can see which segments he is playing. The number, position and length of these colored
areas are adjusted in advance according to the individual sound material.
*Today's digital vinyl systems (eg Traktor or Serato) already use colors on the graphical waveforms (visible on the
laptop display) to denote frequency and ‘energy’. However this thesis uses a different color gradient which is visible
on the control disk itself.



Anatonic stages



Anatonic stages

*The actual coloring scheme is currently under evaluation for maximizing readability, to ensure that for instance color confusion is
avoidable through layout settings and templates.

Two consecutive 'anatonic stages' are given the same color - black, red, green or blue. The color ranges remain
fxed like the numbers on a clock. The marker however moves with the disk (like the hands on a clock). In the
notation we use a special character over the Note/Eton head (v) to symbolize each double segment. With this
transcription method we can clearly show the difference between each 'anatonic stage' as well as the musician’s
chronological position within the sample.
In order to describe the exact 'anatonic course' of an 'acoustic motion', we need to pinpoint the start and the end
of the course route. This applies both to 'single motions' as well as patterns as well as 'groupings'/'integral
motions'. This will be illustrated by examples later on.

3.2 Anatonic Code
In order to show the start or end of an 'acoustic motion', the symbols are also given colors. The 'anatonic start' is
indicated by a colored head of a Note or Eton and the end by the colored 'motion point' (NB: the 'motion point'
was introduced to us in the chapter Acoustic Motions (2.4.2), when we looked at the shapes of the 'motion
First we defne the 'anatonic start' or ' - end' of a Note or Eton. It helps to visualize a 'single acoustic motion' using
the graphic waveform.
Anatonic 47

We call this 'anatonic course' "anatonic 47" because the Note starts at the 4th 'anatonic stage' (starting point) and
moves to the 7th stage (end point) – therefore ‘4’ and ‘7’. In the Theory of Motion the 'anatonic code', the course
route and also the direction of an 'acoustic motion' is described by the numerical order.

In ‘anatonic 47’ four stages are played. When played at 75 bpm this corresponds to the duration of a 1/8 Note
under the default 100% 'motion intensity' and normal 'motion characteristics'. This is notated by writing the
'motion point' on the same line as the Note and colored according to the respective 'anatonic stage', which
describes the end of the
'acoustic motion'.

Anatonic 51

The second example shows another course - the Anatonic 51. In this case, the 'control disk' starts at the 5th stage
(starting point) and ends at the 1st stage (end point) in the form of an Eton which results in a duration of 5 x 1/32.
Such a time value is usually represented by two Etons (1/4 and 1/32). These have to be connected with the
'anatonic bow' to denote the 'acoustic motion'. To simplify things we draw a 'motion point' instead of the head of
a second Eton (1/32). Through the bracing and connecting lines we can see the complete time value of the
'acoustic motion' and we can see the 'anatonic end point'. The neck of the 'motion point' must protrude slightly to
avoid any confusion with the symbol for the 'release mode'. The connection by slurs is no longer necessary. The
'anatonic start point' can now be removed based on the color of the frst motion. The end point can be identifed
by the color of the 'motion point'.
Usually you do not need to draw a 'motion point' for -linear- movements of the 'control disk', since the symbol for
Note or Eton already indicates this type of 'motion characteristic'. However, a 'motion point' would be needed if
we wanted to indicate a specifc 'anatonic course'. Using this transcription methodology the course of an 'acoustic
motion' can now be described in detail, which was never possible previously. In particular, we can defne and
visualize changes in the 'motion intensity', value or characteristics.

3.3 Anatonic Course
Theoretically, the modifcation of the 'motion criterias' will always affect the Anatonie of the sample. In these
examples this was easy to identify because all 'acoustic motions' were played with 'linear motion characteristics'.
However, working with 'non-linear motion characteristics' is different.
In order to show how 'non-linear motion characteristics' are notated, we will change both of the 'anatonic
motions' - 47 and 51 - into 'non-linear motion characteristics'.

Anatonic 47

Anatonic 51

Anatonic 47 is played with an 'exponential increase' as you can see by the symbols. The increase in 'motion
intensity' (speed of movement) shortens the 'motion duration' (length of the sample). In 51, the characteristic is
wavy, but the 'motion points' limit the Anatonie and 'motion intensity' of the sample. Based on this example you
can see how it is possible to describe even the most complicated pattern by the color and position of the
appended 'motion point'.
In summary, Anatonie is an extremely important part of S-Notation since it allows all stages of an audio sample to
be used. Integrating traditional staff notation allows the musician to read exactly which stage corresponds to
which pitch.

The value of S-Notation transcription is that it encourages different methods of composing sample-based music.
Until now, turntablists generally compose according to their own experience and tastes. S-Notation provides a
structure into which you can place any sample and use it to produce unpredictable combinations and therefore
create unconventional musical compositions.

4. Dynamic Motion
In the studio or during a live performance, sound engineers use the faders of a mixing console to raise or lower
the level of the audio signal. DJing and turntablism is today a virtuoso performance art largely through having
perfected complicated variations of these same fader movements to modify sounds in various ways. As a result,
equipment manufacturers created special faders (of both vertical and horizontal alignment) that could withstand
the enormous stresses of the rapid movements. This is the context for Dynamic Motion, a system for conveying the
large variety of fader movements which raise or lower the volume. Having a fader ‘language’ such as this gives us a
new perspective and encourages new creative uses of volume manipulation.
Dynamic Motions can be separated into (1) ‘fading’ and (2) ‘cutting’. The difference between them can be seen in
the envelope graphs below. The volume is measured along the y-axis and the physical position of the fader along
the x-axis.

Fading is usually produced by using the vertical line or channel fader which has a gradual curve. It offers a gradual
modulation of the volume depending on where the fader is located. Cutting is usually performed using the
crossfader (a turntablist generally has this set at sharpest cut meaning the signal is either open or closed with no
gradual curve). Different cutting and fading gestures and combinations of these are explained in further courses.
Let us begin by considering the 'parameters motions' that are measured under the system of Dynamic Motion.

4.1 Motion Direction
If the crossfader is at the very left side, the sound volume is at its minimum value (closed signal). If you move it a
little to the right, the sound volume is opened and the intensity reaches its maximum value (open signal).
Linefader (Fading)

Crossfader (Cutting)

NB: The following examples assume that the turntablist uses the left hand to move the faders and the right hand to move the
control disk. The directions of both types of fader can be reversed, but this corresponds to a special playing technique known as
‘hamster-style’ and will not be covered here.

The line fader is more gradual. It reaches maximum volume only by shifting the slider to the very top. When you
shift it down again, it reduces the amplitude of the audio signal. Every movement of the crossfader and line faders
are classifed as 'motion types'. The smallest units of these are called 'single dynamic motions'. A combination of
'single dynamic motions' (with identical time values) produces an 'integral dynamic motion'. In order to describe
these motions we must notate the two variants that infuence the sound material: volume and position of the fader.
The way that 'acoustic motion' and 'dynamic motion' interact, forms the basis of using the turntable and mixer as a
combined musical instrument. We use a quarternote for the sound material in the following examples.

4.1.1 Open Motion
In our frst example the crossfader is moved to the right, thus opening the signal (the 'dynamic motion'). At the
same time, the 'control disk' is moved (the 'acoustic motion'). After performing the 'acoustic motion', the signal
will remain open and both hands remain in the fnal position.

As you can see, this cutting technique is denoted by a semicircle pointing to the right and drawn directly above
the symbol for the 'acoustic motion' to clearly show that they happen at the same time.

The graph shows how the time it takes for the fader
to move from closed to open means we lose a tiny
part of the sound material at the beginning.

4.1.2 Close Motion
The crossfader starting position is open signal (ie allowing sound through). Once the 'acoustic motion' is played
according to its time value, the thumb moves the crossfader to the left, thus closing the signal. The thumb stays on
the crossfader and the index fnger is moved away, (see video example) to allow for the transition into another
playing technique.

In the notation a semicircle pointing to the left is used to describe this motion.

The graphical waveform shows how a tiny region
at the end of the sound material is cut.

4.1.3 Open & Close Motion
This cutting technique is used to open and close the signal within the time value of the 'acoustic motion'. As the
disk moves, the crossfader is opened with the forefnger. At the end of the 'acoustic motion' it is closed with the
thumb. Because it is a combination of the two 'single dynamic motions', this is what is known as an 'integral
dynamic motion'. The 'motion value' of the 'integral dynamic motion' corresponds to the 'motion value' of
the 'acoustic motion'.

We notate this 'integral dynamic motion' using the symbol of a circle (a combination of the symbols for the 'open
-' and 'close motions' we saw earlier). The staff on the right shows the single components of the pattern.

How much sound you ‘expose’ depends on the 'motion
value' (ie. the duration of the fader movement).

4.1.4 Close & Open
This cutting technique describes the closing and opening of the sound within a predetermined timeframe. Just
like the 'open & close motion' this is classed as an 'integral dynamic motion' because it is made up of a
combination of different 'single dynamic motions' (ie. two movements of the crossfader). The crossfader begins in
an open signal position, then it is briefy closed with the thumb (when using the left hand) and immediately
opened again with the index fnger – this takes place exactly in the middle of the 'acoustic motion' (thus cutting
the sound in two).

In order to create a rhythmical sound that can be denoted by symbols, the duration of these two 'single motions'
must match the total duration of the 'acoustic motion'. A cross is used to symbolize the combination of closing and
opening movements and is used whenever a bisection occurs. To write this you add the symbol directly above
that of the 'acoustic motion'. Again, the breakdown on the right shows the individual components of the

Due to the cut in the middle of the 'acoustic
motion', the sound material is divided in two.

4.1.5 The Transformer
In addition to the 'single -' and the 'integral dynamic motion', other special forms exist. One of the most important
of these involves the opening and closing of the crossfader using a specifc fnger technique known as the
'transformer. The crossfader is tapped open with the index fnger, thus allowing the signal through. The pressure
of the thumb on the other side of the crossfader acts like a spring, sending the crossfader back the other way to
immediately close the signal.

This technique is denoted by a circle with a line through it (to distinguish it from an 'integral dynamic motion').

The very short opening period of the signal leads to
a signifcantly shorter sound, as you can see in the
illustration of the envelope graph (left). Depending
on the pressure exerted by the index fnger on the
crossfader or the coordinated counter-pressure of
the thumb, it is possible to produce different results.

4.1.6 Reverse Transformer
Where the 'transformer' involves punching the sound in with the forefnger and then closing it off with the thumb,
the 'reverse transformer' instead begins with the signal open and, as the disk is moved, the sound is cut as the
thumb closes the crossfader. The disk motion fnishes once the signal is closed, then the crossfader is opened
again by the index fnger.

This creates a different sound to the other techniques and is denoted by a combined symbol (because it is a
hybrid technique) - a circle with an X inside it.

Since the 'motion value' (duration of fader
movement) is predetermined, a signifcant part of
the sound material is cut from the end of the sample.

Each of these cutting techniques allows the turntablist to create interesting rhythms through the manipulation of
the dynamic structure of the sample. They represent the basic repertoire of fader techniques and, by changing the
volume, they fundamentally alter the shape of the sound material, especially when using combinations.

4.2 Motion Duration
The duration of a 'dynamic motion' determines the length of time for which the sample is audible. Normally it is
equivalent to the duration of the 'acoustic motion' (the movement of the 'control disk'), which is why the time value
of the 'acoustic motion' matches the action of the crossfader. As the 'motion duration' varies, so do the methods
for manipulating the sound material.
In the following example a quarternote is cut four times equally by applying the playing techniques discussed
above. The following graphical waveforms show us the divisions:

Video A

Video B

Video C

Video D

On the left of the diagrams, the breakdown of the patterns is shown in the stave. The symbols denoting the cutting
technique pertain to all subsequent Notes until another technique is denoted. In addition to the 'anatonic curve',
the tie symbol links the 'single motions' and indicates that it is an individual 'acoustic motion' and not a 'group'.

This type of transcription methodology is valuable because it is recognizable as a common musical language
which allows collaboration with other musicians and instruments. In addition, it allows you to manipulate one
'acoustic motion' using different cutting techniques. Also, it successfully describes the dissection of the sound
material according to the rhythmic structure. In order to make things clearer we also write the number of 'cuts' or
duration (1/16 or 1/8 for example) above the symbols. The resulting sound will depend on the cutting technique
used. From the graphical waveforms you can see that both the opening and closing movements have very
different amplitudes, even if performed in the same 'motion duration'.To get an imagination of the performance
and the acoustical difference of the fader techniques please check this video.
It is interesting to see how irregular divisions of the sound material by 'dynamic motion' work. There are two
variants that will be discussed in more detail with regard to the 'transformer technique'. The frst example shows
an irregular time division of fve cuts of equal length to a quarternote, making it a 'dynamic sixteenth quintole'.

Video E

At the beginning you can see the breakdown in which the time division is clearly readable. The 'dynamic sixteenth
quintole', just as in traditional notation, is indicated by fve 'acoustic motions' (or Notes) and the fgure ‘5’
underneath. However, since it is the time division of a quarternote using fve equal time values, all 'acoustic
motions' also have to be connected by the tie and 'anatonic curve', to indicate that it is not a 'grouping'. It is much
easier to play using this transcription method. You can see clearly that the odd time division is a result of the
'dynamic motion', even if you only play a single sample.
It is interesting to note that different value distributions affect the interaction between 'acoustic -' and 'dynamic
motions', as shown in this example.

Video F

The eighth note triplet ('motion code' 3-2-3) is divided into four sections of equal length. The number of sections
is named after its pattern: an eighth-triplet-quartole. The fgure ‘3’ below the stave describes the irregular 'motion
value' of the 'acoustic motion' group. The symbol above this pattern indicates that the total time value of this
'grouping' is cut four times, which corresponds to the true value of a sixteenth of 'motion duration'.
The below notation shows the same three 'acoustic motions' (Note, Eton, Eton) but this time without any
crossfader movement. Comparing the two waveforms reveals the effect of the transform (x4 'cuts') on the 'acoustic

There are two other notational examples in which different irregular divisions of the 'acoustic -' and 'dynamic
motion' combine (see fg. e).

The remaining 'motion criteria' (intensity and characteristics) describe fading the volume up or down (by using the
line fader).

4.3 Motion Intensity
Letters are used to identify the exact volume level at which the musician should play the samples represented by
the D clef. The below diagram shows how the D-line systems (lower, middle, upper) are divided into percentages
to show the volume intensities.

In all the following analyses, we only use the middle system. The amplitude at the top line (Q) is set to 100%.
Starting from this value, there is a 10% reduction with each step.The methodology is best understood by using a
continuous tone with a decreasing amplitude, as below. This effect is also know as Echo

In the notation the 'dynamic system', or D-system, is always below the 'acoustic motion' (or S-system). Both line
systems are connected by music brackets and bar lines are drawn through. The notation and speed are related to
each other as on any other musical instrument. The position of the Note on the 'dynamic motion' line system
defnes the level of volume. The frst Note is played at the amplitude intensity of 100% (Q). Over the subsequent
three notes, the amplitude decreases all the way to 0% (A). This simple example leads us to the term ‘fading’,
which is a type of 'motion criteria' through which it is possible to generate different forms of 'motion
characteristic'. In terms of notation, it works the same way as 'acoustic motions' since both rely on the movement
of a controller (record or fader) – the basis of turntablism.

4.4 Motion Characteristics
The 'motion characteristics', just like the 'acoustic motions', are divided into two basic forms: 'linear -' and 'nonlinear'. The 'linear characteristic' always has the same volume, whereas the volume of the 'non-linear characteristic'
can vary.

4.4.1 Linear Characteristics
The 'linear characteristic' of a 'dynamic motion' is a constant amount of volume played with the 'acoustic motion'.
The positioning of the symbol within the D-line system gives the indication of the relative level. This one depends
on a predetermined classifcation of lines and spaces.

Just like in the 'acoustic motions', the pure symbol of a
'dynamic motion', without additional symbols, describes
a Note that has 'linear characteristics'.

4.4.2 Non-Linear Characteristics
'Non-linear characteristics' relate to a varying amount of volume within a specifed period. Just like in 'acoustic
motions' the same additional notational symbols are used. The volume level is decided by the positioning of the
'dynamic motion' within the D-line system and the 'motion point' defnes the end level.

Linear Decreasing

Linear Increasing

In practice there are different ways to play the above notation. The player can either use a conventional fading
motion, as well as other cutting techniques which include using the 'hamsterswitch'. For a 'linear decreasing' of
the volume the index fnger closes the signal by lowering the line fader.
For a 'linear increase' the thumb opens the signal, raising the line fader. There are various transcription
methodologies, but they have exactly the same effect on the sound.

The 'non-linear decrease' or increase of the motion intensity is an irregular form of volume change within the
specifed speed. The differences can be referred to as an exponential or logarithmic increase or decrease in the
amount of Motion Intensity. You can see the changing levels of volume on the envelope graph and how they are
affected by the manipulation of the line faders.

Logarithmic decresing

Logarithmic increasing

Exponential decreasing

Exponential decreasing

The variations can not be simplifed by cutting techniques like the instrumental course. The fader must
simultaneously be moved with both, index fngers and thumbs, in order to obtain the required type of volume
Of course it is also possible to combine all the individual variants. Depending on the combinations and numbers
of curves the result different types of waveforms that lead to an interesting sound output. Other forms of 'nonuniform motion characteristics' can be characterized with the aid of the slur for the transcription. In the traditional
way this special symbol describes a merging of more, directly successive pitches without a pause. Based on this
feature each type of 'non- uniform motion' can be described in every detail. Due to the positioning of the
individual 'dynamic motion' within the system line, intensities get determined, which you can hear during fader

Using the slur, you identify that the strengths fow into each other. The resulting wavelike course of motion can be
detected in the adjacent envelope graph. see. b
4.5 Grouping
By switching from all these different cutting techniques in one or more 'acoustic motions', a large amount of
possibilities are available for the manipulation of the dynamic architecture of the sample. A few acoustic
demonstrations will be shown in the examples. A popular form of such groups in turntablism is the “3-click fare".
The dynamic structure of the 'acoustic motion' is infuenced by four successive cuts.


For that you start in an open signal and play parallel to the 'acoustic motion': 'close', 'transformer', 'transformer'
and 'open' the predetermined time value of a quarter. As a result, the sound material is divided into four sections the audible result can be read in principle, based on the graphical waveform.

The notational representation, as well as the breakdown, reveals the abbreviation of this 'grouping' by a single
symbol which is referred to as double dotted close. This allows a simplifed representation of a fxed sequence of
certain cutting techniques. Once again we put the same action on crossfader, but this time in correspondence
with a 4-2-3-4 group of acoustic motions.


Each of the performed motions on the control disk corresponds to a 'cutting technique', which can be seen based
on the breakdown. The illustration of the graphical waveform helps to recognize the resulting acoustic
consequence. As you can see below there are further variations of groups. It helps to draw dots above the symbol,
to shorten the cuts.

These 'groupings' are the merger of all the prior discussed techniques, which could still be broken down with the
aid of the remaining fngers in another special playing techniques. Based on the volume you can compare the
shaping principle of 'groupings' in some way with the development of musical patterns. Like a melody arises from
the sequence of cuts a "tonal movement unfolding in time", which produces a unique sound. Therefore it is also
possible for a professional Tonspieler to hear and identify sectional groups, regardless of the sound material.

5. Combination
The last chapter was about the connection of 'dynamic -' to 'acoustic motions' – which forms the basis of playing
music with this instrument as we saw in the video examples. We also illustrated the techniques with pictures of the
notation and resulting sounds.
As discussed, a Tonspieler can slip into different acoustic roles, depending on the source audio and playing
techniques. We will now examine one of these techniques, "beat-cutting", to show how this is done.
Beat-cutting could be described as percussion since it works with a bass drum and snare as source material. Type
and arrangement of the individual audio segments may differ. To illustrate this in an example, some beat-cutting
patterns will be presented in more detail. We start with following requirements:
At a rate of 75 bpm the bass drum and the subsequent snare have a total duration of one-eighth – so each is 1/16
beat long. The waveform visualizes the material and at the same time the necessary -anatonic stages- are
identifed. With that we create basic requirements to adapt the notation model to the original sound material.


The frst -anatonic stage- refers to the transient effect of the bass drum (0 - 0.1s), the second marks the decay
process of this segment (0.1- 0.2 s). The third stage defnes the transient effect of the snare (0.2 - 0.3 s), the fourth
the transient (0.3 - 0.4 s).

When the player uses -dynamic motions- to play the bass drum and snare in time (in rhythm), a typical beat
structure is created.By clicking on the following notation you can see several videos of such performacnes.



6. Glossary
acoustic motion
anatonic brace
anatonic colours
anatonic course
anatonic curve
anatonic end point
anatonic stages
anatonic start point
close & open motion
close motion
control disk
cut brace
cutting technique
dynamic motion
variable principle
effects motion
fading technique
frequency motion
groups of motion
hand mode
integral motion
marker point
motion characteristic
motion criteria
motion direction
motion intensity
motion point
motion types
Motion Value
open motion
open&close Motion
panning motions
parameter motions
release mode
reverse transformer
single motion
Theory of Motions
tonal principle
types of motion

movement of the vinyl or control disk (changing the speed or direction) to change the pitch of the sound.
symbol to indicate the execution of an 'acoustic motion' concludes on the 'anatonic end' (Note) or '- start' (Eton)
transcription method to to visualize the 'anatonic stages' of the sound material
line structure of the 'acoustic motion related to the 'anatonic stages' of the sound material
indicates the connected time axis of the 'anatonic stages' of a pattern of 'acoustic motions'
end position of the 'acoustic motion', related to the 'anatonic stages'
different areas (attack, sustain) of the sample
preassigned start position of the 'acoustic motion' related to the 'anatonic course' of the sound material
transcription technique to visualize & organize the 'anatonic stages' of the sound material
fader gesture to 'close & open' the audio signal
fader gesture to 'close' the audio signal
a device (similar to a record) to play the sound material
general term to turn on and off the sound by using the fader
symbol to indicate the execution of a predefned number of 'dynamic motion'' on a 'acoustic motion'
playing technique on the crossfader
linefader or crossfader movements to change the volume (i.e., for the most part to turn on or off sound).
means that all lines and spaces of the staff determine feasible levels of 'motion intensity' the player fnd useful for composition purposes.
movement of the fader or rotary dial to change the intensity of applied audio effects (e.g., reverb, delay, distortion).
backwards motion of the 'control disk'
backwards & forward motion of the 'control disk' under assumptation that both 'single motions' are similar in time value and speed
a device for gradually increasing or decreasing the level of an audio signal
playing technique on the line-fader
movement of the fader or rotary dial to cut or boost certain frequencies
predefned arrangement of motions
this option on the mixer lets you reverse the crossfader usage direction.
playing mode in which the hand conducts the 'acoustic motion'
combination of Note & Eton or Eton & Note on the assumptation that both single motions are similar in time value and speed
marker point on the surface of the control disk
classifcation of paths of motion (linear, exponential, logarithmic)
structure of a motion measured by speed, direction, intensity and characteristic
refers to forward or backwards motion of the record or opening or closing of the fader
refers to the level of intensity (speed, rate, volume) of a motion
notational symbol used to indicate the fnal intensity of a motion characteristic
fundamental principles of a composition in Theory of Motions
duration (music) of a motion
forward motion of the control disk
forward & backwards motion of the control disk on the assumptation that both single motions are similar in time value and speed
fader gesture to 'open' the audio signal
fader gesture to `open & close' the audio signal
movement of the panoramic (panning) dial to spread the sound across the stereo feld.
general term of acoustic-,dynamic-,frequency-,panorama-,effects motion
playing mode in which the hand conducts the physical movements on the record
special fader gesture to 'cut' the audio signal
music notation for sample based performance (turntablism, controllerism)
one-time motion on the control disk or fader
theoretical and methodological framework for creating a new notation system for sample-based music,
principle of arrangement, which lines and spaces of the staff represents a different musical pitch compared to the classical music notation
word creation to name the combination of turntable, mixer & laptop as a musical instrument
special fader gesture to cut the audio signal
fundamental principles of a composition in Theory of Motions

7. Videos & Downloads
Lecture -Theory of Motions- @ NI Session (Berlin) 2015
Explanation -Turntable = Musical Instrument- 2011
Performance 1
Performance 2
Download - Chronology of Turntablism TechniquesDownload -Abstract Techniques Lexicon- 2011
Download -S-notation Font- (psd fle)
More videos on my Youtube channel or

This work is dedicated to my family and god. Many thanx to Dan Leach, Patricia & Timothy Werner, Ivo Wojcik,
Renè Kockisch, Kjetil Falkenberg Hansen, Ronald Kalkowski, Martin Baumgartner, Hagen Schultze and Prof.
Karlheinz Stockhausen. 3+3 = 7*

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful