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Ta & Clap (2005)

for Sam, Chris, John & Haruka
Percussion quartet

Ta-ing and Clapping is a method of teaching rhythms wherein all beats are accounted for, resulting in a fully-rendered moto perpetuo that only implies empty spaces naturally found in a rhythmic pattern. In Ta & Clap, scored for percussion quartet, I wrote dense marimba music and then subjected this music to several processes of subtraction, resulting in a rhythmic cycle that is sometimes presented in its entirety, sometimes filled with holes, and sometimes completely rendered out such that there are no holes at all. Although there is a lot of math at work, Ta & Clap is meant to be fun to play and challenging to learn. It is scored for 2 marimbas and any number of assorted percussion instruments at the discretion of the performers. Ta & Clap is dedicated to Line C-3 (comprising Chris Thompson, Haruka Fujii, John Ostrowski, and Sam Solomon), with gratitude for the patience and good rhythmic sportsmanship.

Performance Note
Ta and Clap was written for a flexible set of instruments to be drawn from the instrumentation of John Cage’s Third Construction, with the addition of a pair of marimbas. However, it will work on any combination of percussion instruments made from different materials. In the original performance, the Line C-3 Percussion Ensemble chose to render the notes in their parts onto like instruments ““ for instance, one figure would be played entirely on five tin cans, and then next entirely on tom-toms. It is crucial that each player vary the sounds after the repeats; this can be as simple as a technique change (using the butts of sticks) or incorporating a different style of stroke (dead stroke, on the node, on the rim). I have indicated in the score any passages that must be played on certain instruments ““ notably, the entirety of figure 1 for player 4 (as well as various other places throughout) must be played on bass drum. Aside from these specific notes, the instrumentation should be left up to the discretion of the performers. Ta and Clap should be, however, consistently energetic, forceful, and severe.

The first performance of Ta and Clap, in Tokyo in May 2004, consisted of the following setup:

Player 1
3 congas, large tom, opera gong, bass drum, suspended cymbal, china cymbal, hi-hat, 5 cans, 2 cowbells
Player 2
3 toms, 5 cans, shaker, log drum, clave
Player 3
3 snare drums, 5 temple blocks, 5 cans
Player 4
bass drum, 3 roto-toms, 5 cans

Additionally, it may be useful to note that the two marimbas are shared between players 1 & 3, and 2 & 4, respectively.

[audio:Ta and Clap Dry Runthrough.mp3]

A recording is available via Third Coast Percussion Quartet.

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