Mark Applebaum – Speed Dating

Southern Oregon University Percussion Ensemble
Mark Applebaum – Speed Dating (2018)
innova recordings 996

The SOU Percussion Ensemble performs Applebaum’s Clicktrack, the final track on the recording. Applebaum writes, “As its name suggests, Clicktrack is an unconducted work that employs click tracks in order to direct the players’ rhythms. Twelve percussionists are divided into three quartets, each player following his or her own click track on headphones.

The click tracks in this piece have four noteworthy qualities: (1) They are made of recited text (as opposed to mere clicks or regular beats); (2) They are recorded in advance by the members of each ensemble (as opposed to being supplied by the composer—thereby affording unique, personalized characters); (3) They are individual to each of the three quartets; and (4) Their content is made up of recordings of each player reciting a poem, a sonnet by flarf poet K. Silem Mohammad. When various words in the poem are heard, the players execute quiet musical articulations at the corresponding moment.

The sounds tend toward the noisy: sandpaper scratches, paper crinkles, ballpoint pen clicks, tin can clunks, stone thuds, coin tinkles, duct tape tears, slide whistle sighs, bird call squeaks, glass bottle plinks, bubble wrap crackles, and the like. Sometimes more conventional percussion instruments are used, such as triangles, woodblocks, cowbells, and even music boxes. And, on occasion, the players are called upon to whisper, speak, or sing individual words from the poem.

Mohammad’s sonnets—which he calls sonnagrams—are anagrams of Shakespeare sonnets. In this case, the sonnagram is a rearrangement of the letters in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 3 (Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest). The composer gratefully acknowledges the author’s generous permission to employ his text in this composition. Clicktrack was commissioned by the University of Wisconsin, River Falls for its 49th Annual Commissioned Composer Project, with great thanks to Patti Cudd. Thanks also to Terry Longshore and his Southern Oregon University Percussion Ensemble for their splendid recording of the piece.”

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