How do I put together a battle routine?
There is no set formula to composing a battle routine, just as there is no set formula to writing a song or painting a picture. If you can scratch, beat juggle, and mix between records, then you are already well on your way. You just need to put things together into a tight, well-timed order with possibly an intro and an outro.
When it comes to battling, common sense tells me that judges will be looking for skill, musicality, technicality, and probably most importantly, originality. Therefore, this isn’t really something anyone can help you with. It is the responsibility of each and every turntablist to create something of their own that represents their style. The ideas have to come from you and that is what it means to be a turntablist.
I’d suggest you spend some time trying to decide what you are trying to “say” in your routine, in terms of a message and style of music etc. When you have a direction, you then need to find the records and sounds you need, and the rest is down to you spending lots of time on the turntables discovering things but also making mistakes.
Check out the my Turntable Training Tool for tips on using cue stickers for speedy transitions and other creative effects when performing routines.
When creating a routine for performing on a DVS (like Serato or Traktor), I first visualise the routine in my mind and start composing the routine in my head. I think long and hard about what I want to do on the turntables (i.e. scratch, juggle, what words I need etc.) and then I try and find the audio I need to do it. From here, I determine which of the audio needs to be on my left turntable and which need to be on the right. Then, I group the audio together and produce 2 different WAV files (one for each turntable) using a sequencer (like Acid Pro or Ableton) so that the sounds are all in the order that I need them to be on the vinyl for me to manipulate them.
It takes a lot of trial and error to get the spacing right in between each sound so that they land at the place you want them to on the vinyl (e.g. 12 o’clock position). Once you have the audio in the right place, you have to practice the routine hard until you’re able to do it fluently. It may take you months until you have what you were aiming for but that is the kind of commitment it takes for battling. Some DMC guys practice a routine for years before they feel ready to battle. And even then, it can all go wrong on the night…