"Clapping Ostinato Duet," AJ Harbison

Posted by AJ Harbison at 2:02 am

In my junior year at CSUF, I took the “Composition” class–not applied composition lessons, but an actual class on composing. The first piece we wrote for the class was a monophonic (i.e. single melody line) chant in free rhythm using only a certain scale, to allow us to focus on melody without worrying about rhythm as well. The second and third pieces we wrote were clapping pieces, so we could focus on rhythm only, devoid of pitch.

My first clapping piece was a clapping ostinato duet. “Ostinato” simply means that one of the parts repeats a rhythmic pattern over and over again, which in this piece happens to be the following one-measure rhythm:

The ostinato part repeats this exact same rhythm in every measure of the piece, albeit at varying dynamic levels (sometimes soft, sometimes loud), while the other part changes rhythms freely and plays with and against the ostinato.

You can listen to a brand-new performance of this piece by clicking on the player below. I performed both parts, and my clapping chops have never been terribly skilled, so it’s not a perfect performance but it’s passable and it will give you a feel for what a clapping piece might sound like. N.B. In order to make it easier to hear the two parts separately, I panned the ostinato almost all the way to the right and the other part almost all the way to the left. Thus the piece is best experienced with stereo speakers or headphones.

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  1. Gravatar

    Idhrendur on 09.13.2008

    This made me happy.

    But I’m a percussionist, so that’s not surprising.

  2. Gravatar

    AJ Harbison on 09.13.2008

    Hey Idhrendur,
    Thanks–but wait till you hear the clapping canon!

    AJ Harbison

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