How to Chirp Scratch – Intermediate Scratching Techniques

I bet you guys are ready to learn without reading a ton about the history of DJing and how the art has affected our culture as a whole. So let’s get straight to the point.

What is a Chirp Scratch?

The chirp scratch is a fader scratch in which the DJ dissects the forward and back motion used for the baby scratch into two segments. This turns the baby scratch from the continuous sound, which is created as the sample moves back and forth against the needle, into a series of isolated cuts that separate the forward and back motions.

These result in a series of continuous cuts which, as the name of the technique suggests, are reminiscent of a bird chirping. This scratch can be problematic for a beginner to master, as properly understanding the subtle difference between the chirp scratch and the baby is initially quite difficult. However, this tutorial will attempt to elaborate as clearly as possible.

Practicing the Chirp Scratch

To practice the chirp scratch almost any sample can be used. The first thing to do before practicing is to have the baby scratch in mind. This is the easiest of scratches to perform and is simply a case of moving the sample back and forth against the needle in time with the music. To perform a chirp scratch keep the same back and forth motion going with the record, but use the other hand to cut it with a fader. The process is as follows:

  • Begin with the fader open.
  • Do a normal forward push of the sample as if you were doing a baby scratch.
  • However, before you pull the sample back close the fader.
  • Pull the sample back with the fader closed.
  • However, when the sample is about halfway back, reopen the fader so that you catch a small portion of the sample on the backstroke and then close it again.

It is best to begin practicing this very, very slowly. In fact, practice it so slowly to begin with, that no rhythm can even be perceived and it sounds almost ridiculous.

Do this to get a very clear sense of the movements that are involved and the point when the fader needs to be open and closed. With the chirp scratch, it is easy to do too much too quickly and think that the right technique is being used when even though it is close, it is not quite right.

Overall Tips for the Chirp Scratch

This covers the basic principle of the chirp scratch but to elaborate on it further, keep in mind that it is all about making that backstroke as short and crisp as possible. After having mastered the technique at a very slow pace, try doing it in time with a beat.

Remember to snap a segment of the backstroke, and when the movements become clean and clear, the whole thing will evolve into a rhythm. It may take a lot of practice but one day, as if by magic, it will all sink in and become easy.

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