percussion ensemble (1987) ca. 8′
published by Sweet Child Music
recorded by Rich Dart, An Evening with Rich Dart and Friends, A-OOP! APCD 2303
“Mr. Siskind’s work is all about clapping in rhythm. …the rhythms are subtle and tricky.”
Olin Chism, The Dallas Morning News, 1/5/97
The compositional problem of how to afford performers some degree of improvisational freedom without allowing this device to usurp control of formal structure has continually fascinated me. Claptrap explores this issue by distilling out the parameters of pitch and harmonic organization, leaving rhythmic coordination as the primary focus. It was written in 1987, during a seminar with Pauline Oliveros.
The piece begins with a free-form improvisation, then continues on through a series of freely repeated rhythmic loops which surround an internal rhythmicized improvisation. At times, individual rhythms may emerge; at others, sheer cacophony might inundate.
Claptrap can be performed by any number of players, utilizing any manner of percussion instruments (or found objects). It can likewise incorporate dramatic, ritualistic, and/or humorous elements.