Organised Sound

Research Article

The process of ‘collective creation’ in the composition of UK hip-hop turntable team routines

Sophy Smitha1

a1 Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, Leicester LE1 9BH, UK email: SSmith05@dmu.ac.uk

Abstract

This article looks at the compositional processes of hip-hop teams based in the UK, focusing on those that have emerged from the practice of creating team ‘routines’. Turntable teams, such as the Scratch Perverts, the Mixologists and the DMU Crew, do not create their original compositions from within the Western art tradition of an independent artist creating work in isolation, which is then communicated to performers through staff notation. Instead, turntable teams compose and perform as a collective to create original compositions from existing records, and in doing so have developed innovative compositional strategies.

To be able to analyse and discuss the creative processes of hip-hop turntable teams it has been necessary to construct my own model framework to enable me to identify similar patterns in the creative processes of the teams discussed. In the article, I discuss and analyse one routine from each of the three teams using this framework, focusing on the emergent process of ‘collective creation’. The article concludes by establishing a number of characteristics of the compositional processes used by UK turntable teams. Until now, scholarship has neglected the music of hip-hop. Previous work on hip-hop music has been concerned with either sociological or cultural and historical aspects. This article offers a new approach to hip-hop scholarship because it focuses on the actual music of turntable teams and the emergent processes that have developed to create it.