ScratchML, encoding scratches

Michael Auger

ScratchML is a project planned by Michael Auger, Jamie Wilkinson and Kyle McDonald with the goal of creating a new markup language for encoding the musical scratches of Dj sets in realtime. Afterwards, the scratches are analyzed, re-created and shared through databases. During the Brooklyn Hack Day 2012 the first prototypes of this project were developed by the planners together with other programmers and artists. The tools used included a timecode vynil, a VCA fader (modified) and an Arduino device. The scratches of each participant are saved in the (new) format .sml. Transmitting the scratches through OSC (Open Sound Control, a format for the transmission of contents through computers, sound synthesizers and other multimedia devices), a Dj is now finally able to save all their scratches in realtime. Collected in the database, the .sml files can be freely uploaded and downloaded for use in live sets, with information about the required hard/software modifications also available. The project also spawned the creation of the .gml language, an universal and “open” file format based on XML; the language was originally projected to encode the movements of graffiti artists according to spacial and temporal coordinates. The Graffiti Markup language has many applications: for example, a mechanical robot arm able to create graffiti like a sophisticated artist. The options and the potentialities of ScratchML (a meta-tool indeed) are basically the same as the Graffiti Markup Language. As a result, the idea comes to mind that in the future audiences may witness a live super robot Dj performing a set of unheard remixes of tracks in .sml format.

Chiara Ciociola