It was during a course on Djing in the small town of Neuchatel (Switzerland), that I met Thierry, the inventor of the Scratchophone. While he was doing his demonstration to the youth of Neuchatel, I realised straight away that his idea was genious.
It enables to give scratcheurs back their freedom and to put forward this art as a full entity. I henceforth went to his workshop to find out more about this incredible object.
The Scratchophone V2 is the contraction of “Scratch” and “Saxophone“. This new instrument merges both a turntable and it’s mixer, thus enabling the Dj to be completely mobile whilst scratching.
The creator of the Scratchophone lives in Switzerland, he is called Thierry Alari (a 41 year old guy from Toulouse). Since he invented this instrument in 2009 he has never stopped developping it.
The Scrachophone V2.1 (second version) has just emerged. I have the inner feeling that this astonishing idea has a great future.
The Scratchophone has all the qualities to become a recognised musical instrument.
In the nineties, the SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Music publishers) recognised the turntable as a real instrument and no longer a simple means of diffusing music such as a CD player.
Using turntables, in opposition to computer generated MAO tools, demands skilled gestures, thus being a creative exercise.
The Scratchophone goes even further and enables Djs to no longer be stuck on stage. Thierry Alari has invented a mobile device for Djs who are passionate about scratching.
The shape of the device reminds one of a djem-be. This all in one instrument murges a turntable with a fixed tonearm, an amplifier, a mixer and a loud speaker, all of which are lodged inside a fiber glass and polyester resin frame.the outer painting is done by a coachbuilder who can recreate the client’s wishes. A harness and strap enable it to be easily carried.
The only clitch to it being completely independant is the electrical input which is generated through a cable. “I have tried to use batteries, but the results were not conclusive” explains Thierry Alari.
The second generation Scratchophone weights between six and seven kilos and costs about 2000 euros.
It takes more or less a month to build a scratchophone! His most successful shot was giving a scratchophone to Dj Qbert, the so called “Jimi Hendrix of scratching”, who now uses the instrument on stage. The ideal ambassador.
My personal thoughts on the scratchophone:
The positive sides : It is a pioneering object and a useful one at that, it enables you to use it on stage as well as on the street. It gives scratchers incredible freedom and really catches the audience’s interest. The object is unique, can be customized as you wish.
The negative sides : The fact that the Scratchophone has to be connected to an electrical output limits it’s use in certain situations. It’s sound level is a bit low when used without an external amplifier.