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What Is All This Scratching of Records?

Though I don’t have a personal Milton Babbitt anecdote to relate to you (sadly, I never had the pleasure), I do have a favorite Babbitt quote. It’s from our NewMusicBox interview with the composer, during which he turned the Q&A tables to ask Frank J. Oteri to explain sampling to him.

“I don’t even know what hip hop is, to be honest with you. Do you understand hip-hop?” he inquired, seeming genuinely perplexed and curious. “What is all this scratching of records?”

For those of you out there similarly confused, Aaron LaCrate offers a quick primer on the language of sampling using two turntables for NPR’s Science Friday, which appears alongside a discussion of the current ethical issues related to this method of creating new music geared to the newbie. Take the Sampling 101 crash course here.


  1. Ah… LaCrate is a Bmore club DJ. That’s odd…
    Molly asks: Odd why?

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