Clapping Music


Steve Reich's Clapping Music (1972) is a short piece "For two pairs of clapping hands". The first player claps a fixed rhythm of 8 eighth notes distributed over 12 beats, repeating it over and over again.

The second player starts off by clapping unisono but, after 12 repeats of the rhythm, skips a beat and continues clapping the same fixed rhythm but one beat out of sync. This skipping process is repeated 11 more times until both players are again clapping together and the piece ends. In the words of Steve Reich: "Not every piece I write is perfect, but this one, it's perfect".

This was the inspiration for my
Small Clicking Machine
zigzag showing rhythm

My Small Clicking Machine plays a different rhythm (above) and the skips between the two players - the left and right clickers - are of random length.
    After 8 repeats the left ratchet is pulled back by the clutch solenoid, disengaging the connecting pin and then released, randomly reuniting it with the right ratchet.
    The machine starts at the press of a button, the random jumps take place at regular intervals and the machine turns itself off automatically. The timing is regulated by gears driving two cams that operate micro-switches.
close up of the clicking machine

variations and repeats

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