I'm obsessed with this fiendishly difficult app that separates real musicians from wannabes

Last Friday, a fellow music-nut friend of mine sent me a link to an iPhone app based on composer Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music.”

I’ve become totally obsessed with beating it. Anybody who’s played music or thinks they have got pretty good rhythm should check it out and see how musical you actually are.

Reich is a minimalist composer from New York City who’s been composing for decades now. His best known work is “Music for 18 Musicians,” which some people (like me) think is incredible and other people (my wife) compare to surgery. Like a lot of his music, it features simple rhythms that shift slightly over time, so the notes separate and then eventually come back together. It’s mesmerising, sort of like watching two windshield wipers beat at slightly different speeds.

“Clapping Music” is the same way. It’s meant to be performed by two musicians. The app tests whether you could be one of those musicians.

You start by tapping the screen with the beat. The dots on the screen represent when you’re supposed to clap; the circles are where you rest Pretty simple:


Then it changes. The audio keeps playing the original beat, but the dots on the screen have all moved one spot to the right. So you’re tapping the same rhythm as before, but starting one “tap” later.

While the original keeps playing!

If you fall too far off beat, the game is over.

Now, if you’re an experienced musician, you should be able to make the transition by reading the “music” even as you’re listening to the other performer playing.

But the rhythms are so weird and uncommon that it’s really hard.

Then it changes again. And again. Finally, after taking you through 12 transitions — with the rhythm moving one spot each time — you go back to the original rhythm. It’s all over in less than four minutes. 

The really fun part: If you’re able to complete the game in “Hard” mode, you can submit your high score to the London Sinfionetta by email for a chance to attend a workshop on the piece with professional percussionists. The best will be chosen to perform the piece live on August 1.

I won’t be there. I was able to get through the “Easy” level after about 20 tries, but haven’t made it more than 7 levels through the “Medium” level, and I’m an utter failure in “Hard” mode.

Here’s how the music is supposed to sound.


NOW WATCH: Apple Music will charge you after 3 months if you don’t do this

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.