Are You Caught in a Delusion of Ruts?

Being in a rut is an all too common problem for many people who scratch. Not surprisingly, this causes tons of frustration for anyone who believes they are in such a rut. Often times this can lead to you losing the joy you experience when scratching, or even worse loss of motivation to scratch at all. Ruts are an all too real problem. Or are they?

Why would you ever doubt the existence of ruts? After all, you’ve likely been hearing about them from every walk of life imaginable for so long, you’d probably feel like a fool to consider that they could just be a fallacy. So when you begin to feel you are suffering from one, it only becomes more real to you.

Subtle Improvement

What if you were to reject popular belief for now in order to consider what is really behind this so called rut of yours? Perhaps you’re experiencing a lack of growth in your scratch skills. You feel like you’ve been at it for awhile and there is no obvious progress taking place. What you have to understand is that, while you may have high expectations of yourself, you’re not necessarily going to see any big advancement over night.

In fact you’ve probably also had the experience of feeling like you were in a rut and suddenly you have a major breakthrough seemingly out of nowhere. How can this be so? Well the truth is you were never in a rut. You were simply going through the process of improvement. You made mistake, after mistake, after mistake, all the while getting closer to hitting the nail on the head. So what happened? You stayed persistent with your scratching until you finally achieved what seemed like such a big struggle before.

Frustration Takes Over

When you have a big challenge on your hands it may seem overwhelming because you are constantly comparing your current skill with that of what you want it to be. As you continue to struggle through, you start accumulating all these experiences of frustration caused by not yet achieving your goal. So much so that a lot of times you’ll fail to realize how much closer you’re actually getting to what you set out to do originally and all your focus gets fixated on your frustration from scratching instead. This type of thinking is really pointless and here we are, right back to believing we’re in a rut.

A Change of Focus Makes a World of Difference

If you look back to the previous perspective you’ll see that part of it was right. Focusing on what you ultimately want to achieve with each goal you set for yourself is important. However, focusing too much on the struggle is clearly taking the life out of something you should be having fun doing. So what you must focus on instead is each little victory you make along the way to your goal.

Now you might be saying to yourself, "What victories? I haven’t succeeded yet." Think of all your mistakes when scratching as a learning experience. Not one to think that you’re just not getting it, you’re not good enough, or any other garbage you’ve been feeding yourself. Take the time to actually think about what’s going wrong and how you can fix it.

It’s so easy to bang away at something without really thinking, but successful people don’t do this. Successful people recognize that taking the time to analyze what’s holding them back is worth doing because they believe, whether they know the answer or not, they will get to the bottom of things. So each time they make a mistake they realize it’s worth celebrating, because now they have another thing they can learn from and this type of mindset will inevitably lead to larger victories.

The Many Faces of Ruts

So now you might be saying to yourself, "Well that’s great, but I’m not having that kind of rut. I’m having a creative block." Or perhaps you have some other issue that you consider to be slowing you down to a screeching halt. You can’t let it get to you though. You have to realize that all of these kinds of feelings you’re experiencing are really just your mind signaling to you that you need to take a step back and truly think about what’s wrong and how you can fix it.

Sulking about it isn’t going to do any good. The brain loves to problem solve and if you just muck about, you’re not allowing it to do what it does best. You may not have the answer now, but if you get used to thinking of ways to resolve your scratch problems, you will resolve them. It’s a healthy habit to develop that WILL yield results.

The First Step is Faith

Faith in yourself. Faith in your goals. Faith in the capacity of the human brain. And why shouldn’t you have this faith? Look around you. There are many who have achieved great feats in scratching. At one time or another, they were no different than you. Cultivate faith and then take action!

Pattern Generation – Infinite Possibilities

Ideas are being thought of and expressed all over the world at every second of every hour, all day, every day. One idea shared can lead to a multitude of other ideas, which in turn can lead to many more. At times it can seem like there’s no end to new ideas for better or worse. As a musician this is an exciting proposition. It means if you keep your mind and ears open and continually put effort towards your craft, you’ll never run out of new things to express.

Let’s break this down to something really specific within scratching and that is pattern generation. There are a lot of patterns that exist already within scratching. New patterns are being created all the time. It may be subtle or even obvious, but it’s happening. If it wasn’t, scratching wouldn’t have advanced to the point that it has from its humble beginnings. So then, it’s safe enough to assume that if it’s happening now it will continue for as long as scratching exists.

Essential Ingredients

Pattern generation is a vital part of scratching for a variety of reasons. For starters, it breathes new life into something older that’s becoming stale in the minds of those itching to explore new territory with scratching. It keeps things fresh for the fans that would otherwise get bored of hearing the same thing over and over again. No matter how much someone loves something, the natural order of things is to crave change.

Delving into pattern generation will advance the practitioner by expanding their vocabulary. Thus allowing them to express themselves more deeply and freely. This in turn allows the artform to grow further. Especially when taking into account that it’s not just one person working out new scratch patterns.

No Need For Ruts

It’s important for scratch dj’s to recognize that ruts essentially do not exist. I say essentially because most of us can remember at least a few times where we felt like we were in one. You need not continue to allow so called ruts in your scratching to control our creativity. It’s outside the scope of this article to get into all the strategies of avoiding or getting out of ruts. However, in the case of pattern generation I will discuss ways to keep the spark of creativity going.

Another Way To Skin A Cat

Sometimes you may want to hold back on creating new patterns of scratches. This may seem like a contradiction given that the majority of this article, advocates the benefits of pattern generation. What you need to recognize though is if all you ever do is work on new patterns you will never master the older ones you’ve already learned. You have to place equal importance on getting things down so you can maximize the expressive potential within any one particular pattern.

Potential Realized

Let’s focus on a simple example of pattern generation. Take any three scratch techniques that you know. Arrange them in any order. Now ask yourself the following questions:

1.How fast do I want to do each technique?
2.Do I want to do each technique at different speeds or similar speeds?
3.How many times do I want to do each technique before moving on to the next one?
4.What tempo will the beat be that I will execute this pattern over?
5.Will this pattern be a good way to start my solo or end my solo?

Keep in mind this is just one example of how a pattern can be created. As you can already see a lot of thoughts have been raised by carrying out this simple exercise. There are many more questions you can ask yourself within this example and you can also start the exercise off differently. For instance, take only two techniques and feed them into the formula. Or four techniques even. Math is a great way to play with pattern ideas. It really boils down most times to basic addition and subtraction.

Soaking It In

Feeling the impact of a concept like infinity can certainly be overwhelming. We need not be overwhelmed though. If realizing the endless possibilities of what you can create is too intimidating it can have the opposite effect. Remember, putting a self imposed rut on yourself is not the goal. Self expression through scratching is really the goal here.

Just because there are infinite possibilities doesn’t mean you have to now suddenly pressure yourself to come up with whopping loads of patterns all at once. Take it easy and enjoy the ride. By creating new scratch patterns over time you help create a longer lasting love for what you do. Enjoy the ride.