…and over and over again.
Clapping Music is perhaps the natural, glorious death of the now unfashionable rhythm action game. It is both the closest* a game has come to defeating the abstraction between input and effect and the simplest you can make it. It is a one button game that’s as difficult (and rewarding) as the sadistically herculean feats enabled by the Souls games (which xxjfg adores). It is a video game on a phone that takes Steve Reich’s Clapping Music and makes it a nerve shredding, sweat inducing contest between your own sense of rhythm and an endlessly falling series of dots.
And it’s brilliant.
It’s brilliant in that it exposes what is so impressive about a performance of Clapping Music. It’s a piece that was designed to be simple in its instrumental requirements and in its concept. It is inherently playful and yet, when you hear it performed you still can’t quite grasp the complexity and labour at work. Until you perform it yourself of course. Which, with its three difficulty levels (which dictate tempo — hard being ‘normal’ speed), the app allows you to do.
It’s brilliant in that it opens up the mathematics of music through an appropriately minimal graphic design.
It’s brilliant because because it makes minimal composition into the competitive score attack festival it always wanted to be (I’m looking at you Riley).
And finally, it’s brilliant because you may well suck at first — the human desire to conform to your virtual partner’s claps is strong — but you get better. You get better until it clicks and in a glorious moment your rhythmic mind decouples from the tyranny of your partner’s beat and you soar through the variations.
You can get it free from the App Store here.
Many thanks to Emilia for the tip.
Bonus: real thing in action
Double bonus, James Murphy’s shout out to Reich on his Bowie remix:
* in fairness, Rocksmith comes close