Your scratch arsenal already contains baby, tear, scribble and hydroplane faderless scratches, but make room for one more: the uzi scratch. The uzi is named for the rapid-fire sound that results when the scratch is performed well. Once you grasp the basics, you can add some simple variations that will increase the value of this technique. You may find that the uzi becomes an important part of your scratch repertoire.
Think of the uzi as a fast but tiny baby scratch. A baby scratch involves moving the record back and forth, generally from an eighth to a quarter of a turn, while leaving the fader open. The uzi scratch is the same concept, but the amount of record movement required is no more than a few millimeters — more along the lines of a vibration than an actual rotation. The basic technique required to execute the uzi involves mastering good hand and arm control. To perform the uzi, hold the record in the middle of a sample and then move the record back and forth ever so slightly but as quickly as you can. It does not require much finesse to be able to master this technique; it simply requires some hand control and muscle tension.
To create the uzi's unique sound on a turntable, cue up a sample on which you feel you have the best record control. Most likely, this will be the right-hand turntable if you are right-handed and the left-hand turntable if you are left-handed. Move the record so that it is somewhere in the middle of the sample and hold it still with the tip of one finger. Tense the muscles in your arm so that your hand vibrates slightly. You should hear a fast but scratchy, almost staticlike sound: the basic uzi scratch.
One simple variation of the uzi is to slowly push the record forward or backward as you vibrate your hand. Depending on the sample selected, this will result in a broad variation in sound as you progress through the sample. Practice the forward and backward uzi scratches with a variety of samples to find sounds that generate a good variation as you push them forward or backward.
Another good variation is the uzi tip. To perform an uzi tip, you need to find a sample that has a nonfading, or immediate, cut-in. A good example is a snare drum, which generally has a sound that is at full volume immediately at the start of the sample. Cue the record to the beginning of the sample and start to perform a basic uzi scratch. Next, move the record back or forward slightly until the vibration is occurring at the exact point where the sound cuts in. The result should sound like a miniature stab scratch (which has the fader closed on the back pull) as opposed to a miniature baby scratch — all without any fader manipulation.
One final variation of the uzi scratch involves adding some fader work. As you uzi the sample, gradually fade the sound in or out on the main fader. (Use a fader with a gradual slope as opposed to an immediate cut-in.) The resultant sound effect is a nice variation to your range of scratch sounds and usually sounds good, even when played with no backbeat.
Once you have grasped this concept, try manipulating the fader with one of the fingers on the hand that is performing the uzi. This will work best with the right-hand turntable if your mixer is in the middle of your turntables. If you can master this one-handed technique, you will be able to perform an interesting and impressive one-handed scratch while freeing your other hand to cue or change a record.
ARMED AND READY
The uzi is a scratch that you can practice anywhere. An easy way to begin to perfect the uzi is to place a piece of paper on any flat surface and practice the muscle tensing required to make the paper vibrate. You will find that this is easier to do with your dominant hand, so you may want to practice more with your nondominant hand so that you can master uzi performance on either turntable.
The uzi scratch has a nice rapid-fire sound that is fairly unique. Once you grasp the basic concept, the variations of this scratch will be fairly simple to master. The results can be impressive, especially when used on a variety of sample sounds. Practice integrating this technique with other scratches, and you will have yet another way to vary your turntablist performances. Good luck and happy scratching!