Scratching is a DJ or turntablist technique originally developed by Grand Wizard Theodore, an early hip hop DJ from New York. A simple scratch is performed by moving a vinyl record back and forth with your hand while it is playing on a turntable, creating a distinctive sound that has come to be an almost universally recognized aspect of hip hop music. Ideally, the record is not damaged because the needle stays within the groove and does not move horizontally across the record's surface.
There are many different types of scratch, including tear, flare, orbit, twiddle, crab, tweak, chirp, and scribble scratches. The names can indicate the scratch's sound, required hand motions and equipment set up, or the name of the DJ who developed it. Recently, DJs and turntablists have begun developing systems of notation for use in learning different scratches and writing compositions. The practice is not yet widespread.
Sounds that are frequently scratched include but are not limited to drum beats, horn stabs, spoken word samples, and lines from other songs. Any sound recorded to vinyl can be used, though a new generation of CD players providing a turntable-like interface has recently reached the market, allowing DJs to scratch not only material that was never released on vinyl, but also field recordings and samples from television and movies that have been burned to CD-R. Some DJs and anonymous collectors release 12-inch singles called battle records that include trademark, novel or hard-to-find scratch fodder.
For recording use, samplers are often used instead of physically scratching a vinyl record.