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Clapping Music
January 14, 2008 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Counting in groups of 12 the first performer claps on 1,2,3,5,6,8,10 and 11. The second performer starts by clapping the same pattern but gradually shifts the pattern one step to the right. You are playing Steve Reich's clapping music. If you are serious you will want to study the score - and perhaps a watch a performance). If you are happen to be Evelyn Glennie you can have a go at both parts at once. - those slightly less more mortal are likely to end up like this.

See also previously.
posted by rongorongo (25 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
MetaFilter: making you slightly less more mortal
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:17 AM on January 14, 2008


Man, Reich's video page is disappointingly sparse. Almost minimalist.
posted by item at 10:23 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


About Evelyn Glennie:
She was the first full-time solo professional percussionist in 20th century western society. [...]

In a live performance she can use up to approximately 60 instruments. [...]

Glennie has been profoundly deaf – meaning that she has some very limited hearing – since age 12.
Her site.
posted by pracowity at 10:35 AM on January 14, 2008


Whilst not wanting to poo-poo things here, I would imagine that the vast majority of percussionists worth their salt could perform both parts simultaneously. It's also not that amazing that when Evelyn Glennie performs she uses up to 60 instruments -that's solo percussion for you (and why solo percussionists have programming issues, there is no standard set-up...) Still this is a nice post, and, yes, performing Clapping Music is a lot of fun.
posted by ob at 10:42 AM on January 14, 2008


And the movie about her, Touch the Sound, for those of us who want to feel even more despondent about our lack of rhythm and talent....
posted by twsf at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another example of 12 beat clapping would be the song Ollin Arageed (navigate flash player to track 11) from Nubian artist Hamza el Din - previously. You can clap along with this score (pdf) as well.
posted by horsemuth at 10:48 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd applaud, but it would seem such an insufficient response at this moment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2008


Anyone interested in such things should check out flamenco "palmas"...the fast, rhythmic handclaps used in flamenco music. Done in pairs...with one person clapping upbeats and the other clapping downbeats, an amazingly rapid-fire staccato is possible with some practice (and a good deal of cojones). But even solo, there's a lot of great stuff (and you can always cluck your own offbeats with your tongue).

The way to learn it is with a real flamenco musician or singer...preferably gitano (Roma/gypsy). I don't believe there's a serious resource on this on the web. But here's a monstrously hot tip: go to the basement of La Candela in Madrid very late at night.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 10:58 AM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


item writes "Man, Reich's video page is disappointingly sparse. Almost minimalist."

Funny that you mention that. Reich is considered a minimalist pioneer.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2008


For some reason, clapping music makes me feel nostalgic for a minimalist renaissance that never happened.

That never happened in "concert" music, I suppose. Ample minimalism in techno, especially of the Berliner / Köln variety.
posted by LMGM at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2008


I would imagine that the vast majority of percussionists worth their salt could perform both parts simultaneously.

Not only that, but this sort of layered/elaborated/cycling sound shows up in traditional music (see polyrhythm) and dance.
posted by Miko at 11:41 AM on January 14, 2008


minimalist renaissance that never happened.

I don't think musical minimalism has ever needed a renaissance because it's never gone away--as you mention, there is ample minimalism in much electronica (not just techno), but we're seeing a whole generation of post-minimalist composers all over the world, who directly cite it as a seminal influence (off the top of my head, Adams, Torke, Turnage, Gorecki, Part, the Bang on a Can folks).

American musical minimalism has become an important, widespread influence, which is ironic considering it was so widely reviled and rejected by the musical establishment for so long--but it appears to be one of the United States' most vibrant and fertile artistic exports of the past 50 years.

And Clapping Music is great--also fun for non-percussionists is his Music for Pieces of Wood (which would require four friends).
posted by LooseFilter at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


go to the basement of La Candela in Madrid very late at night.

La Carbonería in Sevilla is not a bad place either.
posted by FuegoFan at 11:48 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this like the cup game for real musicians?
posted by mincus at 11:59 AM on January 14, 2008


Has anyone ever tried doing this against themselves with video-editing? Seems like it would be a fun split-screen thing and... a lot easier for us rhythmically challenged.
posted by smackfu at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2008


Our music teacher tried to make us do complicated rhythms tapping on the desk with each hand... 3 and 4 beats to the bar and 3 and 5, things like that.

Evelyn Glennie is great, she used to turn up on UK tv quite a bit. Often for the Young Musician of The Year show. I can never quite believe she is deaf.

Clapping
Song
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2008


LooseFilter writes "American musical minimalism has become an important, widespread influence, which is ironic considering it was so widely reviled and rejected by the musical establishment for so long--but it appears to be one of the United States' most vibrant and fertile artistic exports of the past 50 years."

Yes, techno and its children are minimalist. There is some discussion of that on one of those links ...

Of course, The White Stripes are also minimalist, but it's more like stripped down rock arrangements than true minimalist composition.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2008


I would imagine that the vast majority of percussionists worth their salt could perform both parts simultaneously

Don't conductors need to count in different tempos with each hand as well? A friend in college taught me the the 4/4 and 3/4 simultaneously rhythm, but I imagine more complex combos must crop up.

Also, my favorite pattern phasing example is King Crimson's Frame by Frame when Fripp & Belew play a 7/8 riff, but one drops a note and plays it in 6/8 until it syncs back up and then plays in unison in 7/8 again.
posted by turbodog at 2:07 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I would imagine that the vast majority of percussionists worth their salt could perform both parts simultaneously.

I would expect any salt-worthy percussionists to be able to carry out play out two patterns at once with absolutely no problem. Being able to play a double pattern which phase shifts like Clapping Music is quite a lot harder IMHO. I once performed this piece and was the guy who drew the long straw - just keeping to the same pattern - even this I found tricky. A test for the reader would be to try tapping our one part with each hand.
posted by rongorongo at 3:00 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Doing it as a truly gradual phase shift might be interesting. It looks like the prescribed method is to skip whole counts to create the offset all in one go (which makes sense, as a piece).

Also, I think the Glennie performace might have been nicer if what she was hitting with her right-hand mallets weren't so markedly different-sounding from those on her left.

In any case, this is neat. Thanks.
posted by nobody at 5:14 PM on January 14, 2008


Those kids are awesome. If only my children would end up so cool.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:33 PM on January 14, 2008


Funny that you mention that. Reich is considered a minimalist pioneer.

I think item understood that.
posted by Falconetti at 6:53 PM on January 14, 2008


Don't conductors need to count in different tempos with each hand as well? A friend in college taught me the the 4/4 and 3/4 simultaneously rhythm, but I imagine more complex combos must crop up.

Actually no--the two-patterns-at-once thing is a training technique for developing independence in hands/arms/etc., as you might need to show different things with different hands (balance adjustments, contrasting styles to different parts of the ensemble, etc.), but I've never seen an instance when a conductor is required to show different tempi at the same time.*

(*Now occasionally one might need two conductors to do this, as in Ives' Fourth Symphony.)
posted by LooseFilter at 8:40 PM on January 14, 2008


Wait a minute! Evelyn is that OTHER deaf woman on Sesame Street! NOW I get why she's always playing drums!
posted by DU at 5:35 AM on January 15, 2008


Being able to play a double pattern which phase shifts like Clapping Music is quite a lot harder IMHO

Yes indeed, but I still think that most percussionists should be able to do it, as most conductors (at least of contemporary music) should be able to beat 3 and 4 simultaneously, even though, as LooseFilter said, they don't have to do this in practice.
posted by ob at 8:55 AM on January 16, 2008


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