Visualizing Song Structure on Timecode Vinyls

Heller, Florian and Borchers, Jan

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

Although an analog technology, many DJs still value the turntable as an irreplaceable performance tool. Digital vinyl systems combine the distinct haptic nature of the analog turntable with the advantages of digital media. They use special records containing a digital timecode which is then processed by a computer and mapped to properties like playback speed and direction. These records, however, are generic and, in contrast to traditional vinyl, do not provide visual cues representing the structure of the track. We present a system that augments the timecode record with a visualization of song information such as artist, title, and track length, but also with a waveform that allows to visually navigate to a certain beat. We conducted a survey examining the acceptance of such tools in the DJ community and conducted a user study with professional DJs. The system was widely accepted as a tool in the DJ community and received very positive feedback during observational mixing sessions with four professional DJs.