Invented by its namesake, DJ Flare, the flare scratch was popularized by the Invisibl Skratch Piklz' DJ QBert and DJ Disk. An excellent addition to your scratch repertoire, the flare has many varieties that, once mastered, will allow you to create a multitude of sounds. The flare was one of the first “advanced” scratch sounds that helped elevate scratching to the technical level it is at today. The basic concept of the flare involves a reversal of traditional scratch-DJ logic because the scratch starts with the fader open instead of closed. Flares will be significantly easier to perform if your mixer features immediate cut-in on the crossfader — a near-essential feature on any scratch mixer nowadays.
ONE-CLICK FORWARD FLARE
Before explaining the flare technique, it is helpful to understand the term click as it applies to scratch techniques. Click is used to refer to the quick close and open of the fader that is used in many scratch techniques, including the flare. It is called a click because you quickly click the fader to one side and then back, briefly cutting off the sound.
To begin practicing the flare, you need a sample with a long sound, such as the famous scratch sample “Aaaaah.” Start by slowly performing a continuous baby scratch. (Simply move the sample forward and backward with the fader open.) Then, with your hand on the crossfader, click the fader during the middle part of the forward push, pull the sample backward and repeat. What you are doing is chopping the forward part of the baby scratch into two pieces. However, because you leave the fader open during the transition from the forward to the backward motion of the scratch, you gain two more changes to the sound without any fader manipulation. Essentially, a complete one-click forward flare comprises three audio parts but only one fader click: forward (click) forward, reverse (repeat).
To grasp the concept of the click, it is helpful to use the three-sticker method illustrated on the turntablist Website AsisphonicsNet (www.asisphonics.net). Using three stickers, place the first in line with the needle at the start of the sample; the next at the end; and the last one in the middle, equidistant to the other two. Make sure the stickers are not too close to the groove containing the sample. Moving the sample back and forth between the two outer stickers, you click the fader when the middle sticker passes by the needle. Practice with this technique until you have mastered the flow of the scratch. Be sure to keep the fader open during the transition from forward to backward pull (and vice versa). For me, this was the hardest part of learning the flare, as it was counter to the concept of every other scratch technique I had learned.
ONE-CLICK ORBIT FLARE
Another useful turntablist term is orbit. Orbit does not describe a specific scratch technique; instead, it is a label that can be applied to any scratch that involves repeating the same scratch technique on the backward portion of the sample that is performed on the forward portion. A one-click orbit flare reads as follows: forward (click) forward, reverse (click) reverse (repeat).
If you have mastered the one-click forward flare, you should practice the one-click orbit flare next, as it is the foundation for most other advanced flares. Furthermore, you may actually find the one-click orbit flare easier to master because the rhythm of the fader hand is the same whether the sample is moving forward or backward.
The flare comes in many varieties, most of which involve changing the number of clicks performed on the forward or backward portion of the scratched sample. The most commonly heard flare is the two-click orbit, in which the sample is clicked twice in each direction. DJ Disk is credited with inventing and popularizing this variety of the flare scratch. To perform the two-click, simply use two fingers on the crossfader to double-click the audio off, on, off, on during both the forward and backward portion of the scratch. Each finger will create one of the clicks as it hits the crossfader in turn.
Taking flares to the next level, you can experiment with nonorbited varieties (that is, the forward portion of the sample is clicked a different number of times than the backward portion). Be sure to also experiment with different samples, as well as with moving the same samples at different speeds. Generally speaking, once you get the concept of the flare, you may find it easier to perform with faster scratches than with slow.
Another neat but complex concept is to fade the sound while you perform the flare. This involves some advanced fader manipulation: You will be moving both the upfader and crossfader simultaneously. With your thumb and pinky sandwiching the crossfader (allowing you to click the crossfader), place your pointer finger on the main upfader for the record being flared. As you flare the sample, slowly pull the upfader down and back up to adjust the volume level of the flared sample. Although this sounds complicated, it is fairly easy to perform once you get the basic flare technique down. Start by practicing the click using your pinky and then add the upfader manipulation afterward.
The flare is definitely a valuable addition to your scratch artillery. It may take a lot of practice to master, but once you get the concept down, you should be able to create many varieties of the technique, resulting in many different sounds. For audio-visual instructions, look for DJ QBert's Complete Do-It Yourself, Vol. 1: Skratching (Thud Rumble) DVD, which covers this and many other scratch techniques. Video footage of DJ QBert performing the flare scratch is also available in the (unfortunately low-quality) video section of the Battlesounds Website (www.battlesounds.com/video.html).