I recently came across this “Periodic Matrix of Skratches“:
(For a full explanation of what TTM is, Please visit:
In brief; TTM is basically a way of notating scratches.)
The matrix is pretty intense, containing over 900 scratches and I must confess, I don’t understand all of it or all of the teaching here.
I did a little more digging around to see what I could find out and came across this really interesting viewpoint by DMC Champ Vekked. It got me thinking and I thought we could explore a bit more together:
“I’ve used TTM a bunch as a learning tool over the years but for me it has always been a tool to explain scratches that you hear in a more efficient way. I don’t really see a ton of use in having 1000 patterns you’ve never heard before and learning them… like the possibilities of patterns are literally endless, you can draw a sine wave and just start putting dots all over and end up with new patterns. I just feel like the TTM matrix is trying to replace what people should be doing with their imagination. Being able to create a pattern yourself from scratch (no pun intended) is a hugely important skill, and essential for developing a style.
I feel like I learned that lesson the hard way because I used to just learn other people’s patterns/known techniques and although I was technically sound my style was really lame (I still feel like my style is a bit under-developed as a result). Eventually I realized that the possibilities are so endless that after a certain point it’s not about learning specific techniques and patterns, a big part of having a style is your choices of what to learn, and what not to learn, based on how you like the sound. Like I chose to focus on boomerangs a lot because I like the sound of them, and I chose not to put much time into autobahns because most of them time they either don’t sound good, or sound like a Rafik clone. I choose to emphasize transforms, and I choose not to do many 2 clicks outside of boomerangs. I feel like it’s the culmination of years of making those decisions on what you like the sound of and don’t like the sound of that gives you your own unique sound, eventually.
The idea was first put in my head ages ago by Deeswift (RIP), when I read something about him saying that he basically never does tears and prisms and stuff because he felt those were “Q-bert’s” scratches, and not really fundamental techniques. At the time I was like “nah, tears are the most important scratch, Q-bert said so!” but I realize now that choosing to not learn a certain technique because you’re not interested in achieving that sound is just as important as the techniques you choose to focus on. The time you spend learning a new technique could be spent learning focussing on a technique you have learnt and getting really good at it.
Anyways that’s my rant. I’m sure a lot of people get this already, I just don’t see much use in something like this personally. I have so many combo’s and patterns in my head already that aren’t refined that I learned from just freestyling and making stuff up. I don’t know why I’d need a huge page of ideas someone else wrote down; I already have years of stuff I could practice at any given time that came from my own brain.”
I totally relate to what Vekked is saying.
My own view is that I find TTM useful to remember my own scratches.
It is really hard to learn scratches from TTM alone. The way I learn goes something like this: I experiment and find some scratches and combos I like and then use TTM as a way of remembering my own unique interpretation or twist, just as Vekked said. My own style and personality hopefully come through better that way and it sounds more natural, more “me”.
When I see others TTM it can inspire me to try things or if I want to learn a new technique, it can be useful to help me understand how to break it down before I make it my own.
I, like Dee Swift, have never learnt prisms or autobahns. I cannot at this time do many of the complex scratches, but people seem to like my simple style and still want to learn from me. DJ Premier is known for his funky chirps. Anyone can do a chirp, but no one can do it like him. It contains his unique soul and funky style that makes up his signature scratching. You cannot put that in notation format and it cannot be taught. It has to come from your personal interpretation and expression of the technique.
For beginner scratch DJs, this matrix could be really overwhelming so don’t be put off or feel like you need to go that deep. It is not essential to scratching. For more experienced tablists, this matrix can serve as inspiration or trigger some new ideas.
Whether you use TTM and decide to use this matrix or not, I feel like the most important thing is to learn some scratches, then use your imagination to make them yours. Have fun!
Thanks to Vekked for the use of his quote.
More about Vekked
- 2012 DMC World Supremacy Champ,
- 2012 & 2013 IDA World Champ,
- 4x Canadian Champ (3x DMC, 1x IDA)
Until next time…
- Emma Short-E