turn·​ta·​blism ˈtərn-ˌtā-bə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce turntablism (audio)
variants or less commonly turntabling
: the creative alteration of recorded music and especially music from phonograph records through physical or digital manipulation (such as mixing and scratching)
In the 1970s, turntablism—the art of using turntables to manipulate sound and create new music—started to develop. It was the "father of hip hop culture" DJ Kool Herc who first made use of turntablismJohn Sacco
Following the innovations of DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash would take the art of turntablism to the next level, developing many of the techniques that would serve as the backbone for the formation of hip hop.Troy L. Smith
She [DJ M. Singe] proves that innovative turntablism requires an extensive musical knowledge, quick reflexes and an ear sensitive not just to pitch and rhythm but also to textures, colors and moods.Robin D. G. Kelley
Turntabling … can look like a basic act—taking a record, putting the needle down and sliding it back and forth with one's fingertips. But for the wizards, it's an art form, involving spontaneous sound mixing and advanced techniques like quick, rhythmic scratches …Malak Harb
turntablist noun
plural turntablists
Legendary turntablist Richard Quitevis broke onto the scene during the 1990s, and his scratching skills landed him the spotlight … Leslie Ventura

Examples of turntablism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The group, which formed in 1983, achieved near-immediate fame thanks in part to Mizell’s innovative turntablism. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 26 Jan. 2024 The godfather of turntablism, the Edison of cutting, the leader of the Furious Five. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2023 The group was praised for its use of turntablism, break-beat deejaying, choreographed stage routines, and lyricism. Paul Grein, Billboard, 22 Dec. 2020 The art of sampling was now complicated by intellectual property laws and there was less cutting and scratching, which meant that turntablism was, in certain ways, becoming a less crucial, or at the very least a less prominent, part of the sonic footprint of the culture. Longreads, 27 Apr. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'turntablism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


turntablism from turntable + -ism; turntabling from turntable + -ing entry 1

First Known Use

1996, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of turntablism was in 1996

Dictionary Entries Near turntablism

Cite this Entry

“Turntablism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turntablism. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

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