With a multi-faceted career spanning stints in academia, production, writing, audio design and DJing, Martin Baumgartner has spent much of his life as a student and teacher of music. When he's not making music, he's thinking about it, continually striving to better understand it.
Baumgartner got his start in music as a classical percussionist, then moved into live electronics, preferring Downtempo, Turntablism, Noise, Jazz and Avant-garde mixes to the typical Hip-Hop/Dance ones. Currently a professor of experimental turntablism at the University of Applied Arts in Lucerne, Switzerland, and teaches "Soundstudies" at Berlin University of the Arts in Germany.
Baumgartner's turntable of choice is Stanton. "Stanton's STR8.150 turntables are the best working tools available," he says. "It's obvious right off the bat that the motor is super strong, letting you do very accurate and precise scratch work, which is very important."
Whether he is making music with such Noise artists as Sudden Infant, collaborating with his post-electronic band Lunchbox, working on his own releases or DJing - the Stanton STR8.150 - is an integral part of what Baumgartner does. "What makes the STR8.150 stand out is its precision, which is a feature of its original design, not something added in later," he says. "Having three different speeds, a pitch-shift fader that lets me go up to 50 percent, an option for reverse play and the ability to select how fast the platter starts and/or stops spinning gives you a lot of different features to explore in your work."
Baumgartner often creates music for live theater. On a recent project marrying DJing, ballet and orchestra, he relied on both the Stanton STR8.150 and M.207 mixers and two Uberstand laptop stands, one for his laptop and one for the MIDI device he uses with a vinyl-to-digital system.
For this project, Baumgartner was the guest soloist for the Bern Symphony Orchestra, which teamed up with Switzerland's Bern Ballet for A Winter's Night Dream, an adaptation of Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream. Incorporating Gabriel Prokofiev's Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra, this one-of-a-kind event premiered on November 3, 2011.
In the Bern Ballet's version of the classic Shakespeare tale, the action has been moved to a deserted, dilapidated amusement park in the middle of winter. The contrast of classical and contemporary genres found in this adaptation makes for a unique musical composition, where a DJ is playing along with the orchestra, taking samples from the orchestra's performance, re-mixing them and adding effects as solo performances within the piece. This type of project is not new to Baumgartner, who regularly creates original compositions for plays at the Theater of Lucerne. Performing with an orchestra, however, requires some precision. That's why Stanton's STR8.150 really shines for Baumgartner.
Since it is an actual concerto written in regular musical notation, Baumgartner's performance is tied in with the orchestra and the conductor. This scenario requires DJ gear that is sensitive and responsive enough to handle a musical entrance at a moment's notice, while also offering Baumgartner the variety of effects he needs for creative control.
"It wasn't a one-man show. There are many things that had to come together, so I couldn't run full throttle all the time," Baumgartner continues. "In the orchestral context, I needed a very sensitive touch on the volume. The M.207's long channel faders let me find the perfect volume to integrate with the orchestra smoothly. The cross fader has a 'warm touch' that is organic and silky. There is some resistance in it, but in such a way that you can feel what you are doing, making it very easy for me to quickly make adjustments."
Baumgartner is clearly a Stanton user for life. "These tools are my instruments of performance - and for me it is all about perfection, performance and pleasing the crowd"