Thesis Abstract

The Turntable as a Musical Instrument
and the Emergence of the Concert Turntablist


The turntable played a significant role in the evolution of 20th century Western music, both as a recording/playback device, and as a musical instrument in its own right. The focus of this thesis is my original compositions that feature the turntable and the history of the turntable as a musical instrument.

The 20th century delivered significant progress in turntable technology, but produced limited innovation for the turntable in new music composition. Except for a few outliers, the same techniques for the turntable have been recycled among experimental composers, sound artists and pop music producers since the 1930’s. This thesis embraces those techniques from the past, and moves forward to explore new potential for the turntable.

My original folio of work featuring the turntable is informed by my research into: (1) conceptual barriers to understanding the turntable as an instrument (2) turntable notation (3) amplification options (4) public opinion of the turntable in the concert hall (5) original turntable techniques as well as my adaptation of existing techniques (6) composers who embraced the turntable-as-instrument.

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