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The art of scratching arose with the ascendancy of rap as a musical form in the early 80's, and the two forms very quickly married themselves to each other. The pairing was, of course, completely natural; both scratching and hip-hop are based on creating and manipulating rhythm, on cutting up disparate things and combining them in new ways.

Still, though, what i've always wondered: Why did it take so long for scratching to be discovered? The idea of moving the record with your fingers to manipulate speed and direction seems rather obvious. Why is it that musicians don't seem to have started playing with the idea until the 80s, just over a hundred years after the phonograph was invented?

And this leads to the question: What was the first instance of scratching in recorded music? Well, i think i can answer that one:

Revolver, the Beatles, 1966.
Yup. At the very beginning of the album, in the first ten seconds of Taxman, somebody (Harrison?) counts out "one, two, three, four, one, two" while, in the background, the distinctive wish-wash of a hand-spun record plays. Now, keep in mind that it is *very* likely that this noise is a tape manipulation, but i don't think it is. And there is just something incredibly poetic to the idea that the Beatles were unwittingly hip-hop pioneers.

As for the further history of scratching, i know absolutely nothing. So, i still wonder: When was scratching first used as a musical element, rather than just a weird noise, and when did the fast-paced irregular movements we associate with scratching today first show up? And if the noise at the beginning of Taxman is a tape manip, then when was scratching first done?