Give me a beat
February 2, 2015 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Audience can clap but ain't got no swing? No problem (if you're Harry Connick Jr.). (SLYT)
posted by swift (91 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Cool. They were clapping like white people (on the first and the third beat of a four beat measure), and then, at about the 42 second mark, he switched the beat so their clapping fell on the second and fourth beat, as you'd do with gospel, soul or jazz, for example.
posted by kozad at 9:27 AM on February 2, 2015 [9 favorites]

My favorite part is the drummer celebrating in the background right after he does it.
posted by brainmouse at 9:30 AM on February 2, 2015 [20 favorites]

My favorite part is when the audience is sucked down, still alive, to Hell
posted by thelonius at 9:31 AM on February 2, 2015 [28 favorites]

Harry Connick Jr. Plays For Audience of Zombies, Wins.
posted by gwint at 9:35 AM on February 2, 2015

thelonius, I'm not gonna favorite it, but that was funny.
posted by Poppa Bear at 9:40 AM on February 2, 2015

Wasn't it Robbie Robertson from The Band who said he loved playing in the American South because it was the only place where white people could clap on the right beat?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:40 AM on February 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

Poppa Bear, I don't mind! I write for eternity.
posted by thelonius at 9:41 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is like a joke I don't get.
posted by desjardins at 9:55 AM on February 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


My former taiko group has a particular interlude for a few players that they use while moving stuff around on stage. Part of it encourages the audience to clap... and then a few bars later, speeds up the tempo by half. It's not a subtle change at all.

In any given gig, fully a quarter of them keeps doggedly clapping in the original tempo throughout the (mercifully brief) rest of the song.
posted by Foosnark at 10:05 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is like a joke I don't get.

As I also had to do some figuring-out…

Apparently it is a Big Deal, when music has a beat like "one, two, three, four", whether one claps on "one" and "three" or on "two" and "four".

The performer in this video does something musically clever with his piano at about 0:40 to adjust his audience to the preferred clapping pattern ("two" and "four"). Then the drummer raises his hands in praise of the gods of rhythm.
posted by hrwj at 10:06 AM on February 2, 2015 [8 favorites]

desjardins, the audience is clapping on the wrong beat for this kind of music (the 1 and 3), but Harry, consummate pro that he is, sneaks in an extra beat in his playing by briefly switching to 5/4 time. Now the piano has shifted a beat, and the clapping is in sync with the backbeats (the 2 and 4), which sounds a lot better. As a bonus, the audience probably has no idea what just happened, but the drummer loves it because it makes his job a lot easier.
posted by swift at 10:07 AM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

C'mon, maybe they're just really into ska.
posted by butterstick at 10:09 AM on February 2, 2015 [8 favorites]

From NPR: Think Before You Clap: You Could Be Beat Deaf
"Some of y'all don't understand that this kind of clapping is killing black folk. Do you understand what I'm saying? Killing us."
posted by Kabanos at 10:13 AM on February 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

See also Shit Lindy Hoppers Say (that link should start around 1:54).
posted by pw201 at 10:13 AM on February 2, 2015

The audience could tell something was different. You can feel their confidence ebbing as they experience doing this correctly.
posted by thelonius at 10:15 AM on February 2, 2015 [18 favorites]

The only person in the audience who knows what's up is the lady who the camera cuts to who is snapping at one point, doing the white-people-lip-bite.
posted by Mizu at 10:21 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hear the band and audience fighting when the band comes back in from the piano break. During the piano break most of the audience doesn't feel one way or the other (too subtle) but when that snare drum comes back in they feel like they're on the "wrong" beat. It is possible to clap on the 2 and 4 but sound nervewracked about it, and that's what the crowd is doing. But I think by the end of the song they've made their peace with this crazy "difficult" way of clapping. Score one for New Orleans!
posted by argybarg at 10:31 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, the French are colonizers.
posted by MtDewd at 10:33 AM on February 2, 2015

Look, the ONE and THREE beat is clearly not right for this sort of thing, but people are getting a little too hung up on the idea that the TWO and FOUR is the way to do it.

This is New Orleans music. Clapping on the two and the four is bog standard in American music from a black tradition, but in NOLA, it's a lot more complicated. A lot of music relies heavily on hitting the one hard -- in fact, there will be a weak eight beat right behind it just to make it pop. The meter's "Hand Clapping Song" relies on a pretty driving ONE AND TWO and ONE and a TWO rhythm.

In summary: New Orleans is a land of contrasting hand-clap rhythms.
posted by maxsparber at 10:47 AM on February 2, 2015 [8 favorites]

The best demonstration I've seen done of this is with the Imperial March. You can try it yourself- clap on the beats between the normal DUN DUN DUN and it almost swings.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:52 AM on February 2, 2015

I was going to reference that analysis of Bob Brozman's, MtDewd, which is brilliant -- but he seems to have been such an execrable person I can't link to him.

So I'll give my short version.

There are three things you can do with rhythms, or at least repeated single beats.

Clapping on the ONE two THREE four is like marching in formation. Very simple, direct, but no tension or play. This is the dominant rhythm of colonizing cultures.

Clapping between the beats is like clapping between the footsteps of the march. It his lightness and sass and uplift. This is how colonized musics, especially those of islands like Cuba or Jamaica, emphasize rhythms.

African and more purely African-derived musics play without a fixed center -- the rhythm emerges out of the interaction of a many irregular beats working together. Instead of playing with or against the leader, there is no leader. Western musicians playing these rhythms often want to know where the one is. There is no one, really, any more that there is a "start" to a tiling pattern.

One of the reasons that the son clave (known to us as the "Bo Diddley beat") has become so ubiquitous in world rhythm is that it synthesizes all three styles within one cycle. It makes it a truly world rhythm. Look at it against the simple one-two-three-four beat (x = clap, – = rest):

clap: | x – – x – – x – | – – x – x – – –
beat: |1 – – – 2 – – – | 3 – – – 4 – – –

It starts out right on the beat, then goes (on the second clap) as fair against the beat as you can go, then it spends a couple of claps doing upbeats, then it gets back to the beat. Over and over again: tension and release.

Pure-African drumming (and some of the Cuban, Haitian and Brazilian styles closer to Africa) tend to have layers and layers of interacting tensions and releases. Playing inside those rhythms is a completely intoxicating and indelible and slightly scary experience for a musician. It also make going back to music that pounds the one and three a depressing experience (at least for me).
posted by argybarg at 10:52 AM on February 2, 2015 [26 favorites]

In summary: New Orleans is a land of contrasting hand-clap rhythms.

Sure, but since the player went to the trouble of resetting the handclaps, I'm betting that in this case, he found the 1-and-3 pretty distractingly wrong for this music. I don't think anybody is saying that two and four is always right no matter what the music.

What I love about this maneuver is that he does it without embarrassing them; without stopping and yelling at them for clapping on the "wrong" beats, he simply nudges them over to the right ones and lets them feel it for themselves, and then they're fine. It's not that they can't clap rhythmically -- they just had instincts that don't work for this music, so they needed a suggestion, and this is WAY WAY better, to me, than having the musician actually demonstrate where he wants the clapping. In other words, I don't love it because of the wrong that's righted, but because of the grace and smarts with which it's done.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:56 AM on February 2, 2015 [16 favorites]

Sure, but since the player went to the trouble of resetting the handclaps, I'm betting that in this case, he found the 1-and-3 pretty distractingly wrong for this music. I don't think anybody is saying that two and four is always right no matter what the music.

I was just expanding on the discussion -- if we're going to go for a more sophisticated hand-clap palate, we need not stop with two and four. Especially with New Orleans music, where the real metric innovation was the Big Four. Clap that and the world will clap with you; although I will admit that if you just clap on the one and three, you will clap alone.
posted by maxsparber at 11:07 AM on February 2, 2015

As an old white guy who loves music and attends many concerts, this is why I never clap along. I hope it's enough thatI pay money to get in, buy whatever CDs are on sale, sway ever so slightly and smile lots.
posted by cccorlew at 11:12 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's an episode of Peg + Cat about this: Peg and Cat help Beethoven and the Three Bears make music together. Old Ludwig Van wants to hit on the 1 and 3, but the bears hit on the 2 and 4. I seem to remember a slick arrangment of Ode to Joy, but that might have been a different episode.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:19 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is just fascinating. How often do performers do this kind of thing? I feel like I've often had the experience of being in an audience that is clapping and it feels "off," but then it magically gets better -- is this a known thing, where you can just guide your inept audience onto the right beats?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:21 AM on February 2, 2015

I've never seen it before. Every so often I'm in a concert where the people are clapping wrong (and don't tell me that beautiful clapping is in the ear of the beholder) and the performer just keeps going, grimacing inside. The customer is always right.
posted by kozad at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2015

Wow, that crowd. Is this footage from the last RNC or something?
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:33 AM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'd say that performers "fix" an audience by speeding up or slowing down or playing chamber music mind games with a clapping audience pretty frequently (I've played that game many times, for example). But what Harry Connick does in the video is ninja-level shit -- you can see the concentration it takes as he decides what he's going to do and ramps up to doing it. It requires completely turning around your own heavily-ingrained sense of the beat on the fly, while not losing any time (since if you drag or rush a little, you screw up the trick).

Another of my favorite examples happened at a concert I was at which is by luck online: Preservation Hall at the Newport Folk Festival. At 1:45 the sax player drops his instrument, picks up a slap stick, and concentrates harder than anyone I've ever seen live, because he's taking on an entire audience that (a) is indeed clapping on 2 and 4 but (b) is TOO EARLY every damn time. At one point he even looks back at another player, like, "can you believe this shit?" He is hell bent on fixing the audience's (bad, non-hip) groove. You can hear him slap after the audience on every. single. beat.
posted by range at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

Well, it's one thing to hit the accents, it's quite another to hit them a little lazy, a little behind-the-beat like the New Orleans players like to.
posted by argybarg at 11:40 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

At 1:45 the sax player drops his instrument, picks up a slap stick, and concentrates harder than anyone I've ever seen live, because he's taking on an entire audience

...that isn't clapping along at all until he starts using the slap stick which is clearly a pre-arranged thing to accompany the trumpeter's solo. Nor is it really clear, from that recording at least, that the crowd is out of time with his slap stick.
posted by yoink at 11:50 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

This video was shot in France. In Europe, for whatever reason, the audience claps on the one and three. When I played in the UK it was the same way. It isn't "wrong." It is just different.

His little switcharoo, though, was great.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:50 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm just glad to watch some vintage HCJ. I remember seeing him in concert 23 years ago this week (It was either right before or right after he sang the national anthem at the 1992 Super Bowl) and damn did he rock the house.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:51 AM on February 2, 2015

A few things:

1. Audiences are always bad at clapping. Even if you're lucky and get an audience that claps on two and four, you can't rely on them to be your rhythm section or else your song is going to get faster and faster. The slower the tempo and the fewer hints the audience has as to the correct tempo, the more they'll let enthusiasm translate into faster and faster clapping.

2. On one hand, I feel like it was pretty easy to do what he did — as swift said, all you have to do is add an extra beat to one bar of the song.

On the other hand, rhythm is a weird thing that requires full buy-in from your brain, even when the mechanical aspects are easy — and once your brain is going one way, it's hard to go the other way even when you want to, like that spinning dancer optical illusion.

For instance, listen to Katamari on the Rocks: the percussion comes in first, and until I hear the horns it's completely ambiguous to me which is the downbeat (1 & 3) and which is the upbeat (2 & 4). Even though I've heard it a thousand times and I know which is which, I still sometimes hear it “wrong” and find it quite difficult to flip my brain around until the horns come in and make it obvious.

Of course, Harry Connick Jr. is better at music than I am.

3. Considering that rock, blues, and jazz have been dominant art forms for the vast majority of the lives of everyone in that audience, I'm amazed that audiences still clap on the one and three as though they were listening to a Sousa march.

I mean, when Elvis did his TV special to a 1960s audience of Establishment White People, it surprised me not one bit that they clapped on one and three, for that was the custom of their forebears. But it's 2015 and I've got to admit that one and three might be a hardwired thing that we have to consciously deprogram.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:08 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

It isn't "wrong". It is just different.

Enh. We could get into what wrong and right is with respect to musical traditions, and the inappropriateness of the terms 'wrong' and 'right' with respect to music, but I think it's fair to say that clapping on one and three, while appropriate to the dominant musical tradition in France and the UK, is not appropriate for the music of the African diaspora (which this is).

Is it 'wrong' to play swing music with a straight beat?

Is it 'wrong' to swing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"?
posted by Fraxas at 12:10 PM on February 2, 2015

Is it 'wrong' to swing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"?

Only if it is "wrong" to swing "My Favorite Things."
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:19 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is like a joke I don't get.

You are not alone: I understand at a rational level the explanations above, but watching the video I still don't really see it. Probably why I was never, ever any good at music.

OTOH, people geeking out over music theory is like the coolest thing ever. It's like getting to see down into the machinery.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:21 PM on February 2, 2015 [9 favorites]

I saw this on twitter without an explanation of why it was linked. With the video cutting in after the start, my brain couldn't actually resolve the beat center until he did his shift, and then I didn't know what he'd done until I went back for it.Ohhhh.

Related: we saw Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap a few years ago, second row, all the way house left. There was a woman in the front row whom we dubbed "Number One Fan," who was extremely excited to clap along with every song – on no particular beat at all. Not one & three, not two & four, just … sometimes before, sometimes after, but rarely actually on any beat. During one number, backup vocalist Sweat Pea Atkinson came over to her, gave her a big warm greeting, and then tried to guide her into clapping on the correct beats. He was unsuccessful, but it was sure amusing to watch.
posted by fedward at 12:32 PM on February 2, 2015

Clap your hands on the afterbeat has a bit in the middle which contrasts the two sorts of clapping.

Lindybeige illustrates the difference.
posted by pw201 at 12:32 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Of course no rhythm can be "wrong" the way an answer in math is wrong. But clapping on the downbeat against a stride piano kills the feel of the music. Against a Sousa march, it's on the money.

And I play with musicians, some of them good in other ways, who cannot reliably find the upbeats or accents either. They just can't hear the difference and they automatically fall back onto the beat. They're not "wrong" as musicians. Just don't ask them to make anyone dance with their music, cause it won't happen.
posted by argybarg at 12:33 PM on February 2, 2015

James Brown: On the ONE


2 and 4 re not sacrosanct. Rhythm is a dynamic thing. Some 4/4 calls for "2 and 4", but it depends. I've heard some cool syncopated clapping in audience crowds, *against* a 2/4; makes it interesting and alive - as long as it's within the beat structure, and appropriate for the genre.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:37 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't take the on-the-one thing too seriously. Like I said above, the clave (Bo Diddley) beat starts out right on the one -- but there's a world of difference between that and the Pat Boone clap on 1 and 3. JB's bands would start out with a hard kick on the ONE (in many songs, not all) but break into many syncopations over the course of the cycle, converging back on the ONE.

Besides, if I were clapping along with "Sex Machine" or "Cold Sweat" I damned sure wouldn't clap on the one and the three. Yikes, just try it.
posted by argybarg at 12:43 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another thing that performers must have to deal with, in large venues, is the natural audio delay affecting the crowd's clapping. Every single person in a stadium could be clapping right on the beat, as heard from their seat, and that would sound like a big mess from on stage, since the claps from people far away would arrive later than the claps from the front rows.
posted by thelonius at 12:44 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

This reminds me a bit of when I took a music theory class from the Learning Company. I followed it pretty well for a while, but then they got into tempos and I just couldn't hear the difference.
posted by smackfu at 12:46 PM on February 2, 2015

Best way I can explain it is when he shifts them into the two and four, the tension disappears and everything begins to flow beautifully. Love the drummer's reaction so much. :D

Sort of like if someone were whistling just off key, then they shift on key -- there is a palpable feeling of relief.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:51 PM on February 2, 2015

Everything I learned about music theory I learned from the great tin pan alley composer Irving Cohen.

Give me a C a bouncy C!
posted by maxsparber at 12:54 PM on February 2, 2015

Bootsy Collins on "the one" as the basic funk beat. Interesting to notice how he snaps his fingers on the 2 and 4, though, as he talks about hitting the one.
posted by yoink at 12:54 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Right! Because to a funk player the one is practically an offbeat. It's a novelty to hit it.
posted by argybarg at 12:57 PM on February 2, 2015

"I see I don't have to tell you that one never snaps one's fingers on the beat. It's considered aggressive. Don't push it - just let it fall. And if you'd like to be conservatively hip then at the same time, tilt the left earlobe. Establish a state of nonchalance. Abandon. And if you would like to be respectably cool, tilt the left earlobe on the beat and snap one's fingers on the afterbeat. And so, by routing one's finger snapping and choreographing one's earlobe tilting, one discovers that one can become as cool as one wishes to be. "
posted by ChuraChura at 1:30 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you really want to get your clapping noodles in a twist, there's always Dave Brubeck's Unsquare Dance...
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 1:48 PM on February 2, 2015

Classically trained (in the European tradition) musicans usually need to be taught how to have groove, which ends up working a lot like a foreign-language class. The two major issues are

1) emPHAsis on the wrong syllable (playing funk with the "accent" of a Sousa march)

2) Once that's settled, it's all about placement of the groove. You can learn a lot, for example, by paying attention to how/when the horns place the hits (their only job, btw) in Hit the Road Jack. How do you notate that? It's so swung it's almost (but not quite!) on the beat. I once had a room of 40 really good classically-trained musicians try to clap to match those hits, and they couldn't get it in 10 tries.

Those two issues are (to me anyway) the largest contributors to orchestral horror shows such as The London Symphony Plays the Beatles (the hometown band, for crying out loud! Who in that orchestra doesn't know how these tunes go?) It's exactly analogous to the quantum leap between knowing the vocabulary and nailing the accent.
posted by range at 2:00 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Here's a little bit of analysis based on a book I once read on Rhythmic Structure of Music by Leonard B. Meyer. Meyer makes a distinction between accent and stress where stress basically means that you play it louder. In western music played in 4/4 time, the accents are "always" on the first beat of the measure. All the melodic and harmonic structures of the music put the emphasis, or accent, on the first and, to a lesser degree, the third beat. This is true of folk music (forget those crazy Balkans), popular, jazz, and classical music. So, when you clap on 2 and 4 you are stressing the un-accented off beats which smooths things out and gives a nice lilt to the music. Clapping on 1 and 3 just makes the already accented beats louder and gives it that lead foot dull feeling that we all hate.

Incidentally, I used to play music for a living and there is nothing worse than when the audience decides to get it on and clap with the band because they inevitably go off in there own direction and end up in an entirely different tempo. Just leave it to the pros, people.
posted by charlesminus at 2:01 PM on February 2, 2015

Give me a C a bouncy C!

Dah-dah-dah, dee-dee-dee, whatever the hell else you wanna put in there.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:11 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

British clapping
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:21 PM on February 2, 2015

A great example is Bill Withers - Lean on Me. In the bridge section (You just CALL on me BRO-ther...) the vocals hit the one hard and so does the bass, but the clap is only on the two. The three and the four get no emphasis at all. Most people I know can't clap along because they just can't feel the two, and end up clapping on the one.
posted by rocket88 at 2:33 PM on February 2, 2015

I doubt most people could find the one in "Happy birthday to you." (Hint: it's not on "happy")

Because of the really scattershot state of music education in our country, to most people music doesn't relate to any kind of internal representation. It just kind of goes by randomly.
posted by argybarg at 2:38 PM on February 2, 2015

The most basic rock or blues beat is- stomp/clap/stomp/clap which translated to drums is kick/snare/kick/snare. The snare drum is basically imitating a clap sound, which is why it sounds horrible when people clap on the kick drum beat.
posted by bhnyc at 3:01 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

It just kind of goes by randomly.

I really think that most listeners are focused on the singer, and they are aware that there's some kind of beat going on underneath the vocals, but not in a very conscious way. I've pointed out amazing, pretty high in the mix, instrumental stuff in rock songs to people before, and had them say that they never heard it.
posted by thelonius at 3:42 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Besides, if I were clapping along with "Sex Machine" or "Cold Sweat" I damned sure wouldn't clap on the one and the three. Yikes, just try it.

C'mon, I tried it just now and it sounded perfectly fine. Better, even. A few nights ago I punted a one-year-old Pomeranian/Corgi mix into Old Mrs. Thompson's back yard
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:19 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

this is my new second favorite clapping related thing.

my first will always and forever be tom waits
After just the first verse of “Chocolate Jesus,” Tom Waits abruptly stopped his band to admonish the audience. “If you’re going to clap along,” he scolded them, “please work together. You need to elect some kind of leader, someone with especially good rhythm. There’s just no other way to do it. I can’t come out there and stop each of you individually, but please, try to stay on tempo.”
posted by nadawi at 4:21 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Musician here - at the risk of being a killjoy, or pedantic (counter-pedantic?) -- HCJr. is a pro, and one of the best at live performance (whom I've never gotten to see live, dammit), and if he had a little fun with the band while steering the audience a touch, great, but...

Good musicians, hell, even the local ones, are not generally as thrown off by the audience and the noises they make as you might think. Don't flatter yourself. It's plenty distracting if you're IN the audience, because bad clappy noises are much louder to you out there than they are up on stage. And if they are perchance loud or distracting from where you sit on-stage, well, you follow the conductor (if there is one) and/or (more likely) you follow the DRUMMER WHO IS 10X LOUDER THAN THE AUDIENCE IS, especially from where you're sitting. There's plenty more to worry about in a live performance, like whether you practiced the part enough, whether the conductor will remember the cue after you've counted 80 rest measures, etc., whether the beat is where you think it is when it's all acoustic and there aren't monitors and the percussion section is about 50 feet away, etc...

And pardon me, but I come from the classical world where the killjoy-to-enthusiast ratio is way, way, way out of whack, but this audience shaming shit a la what is described above about Tom Waits sucks, as do some of you critiquing where the fuck you expect people who are out having a few drinks, paying out the butt to hear Harry Connick Jr., and who do not have a music degree, to clap.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:46 PM on February 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

This is interesting because, as somebody mentioned, there aren't a whole lot of 1 and 3 beats in popular music these days, especially where snares and claps are concerned. Funk has the big 1 but usually still a 2 and 4 snare backbeat as far as comes to my mind - you can hear just that in the Bootsy video. In the ska/reggae/etc. family you have beats that can be counted with the snare on the 3 but that puts those extremely distinctive musical pulses on the 2 and 4 - 1-doot-bap-doot-1-doot-bap-doot - and if you count them as half-time there's the snare on 2 and 4. And nobody puts a snare on 1.

At least people can find the one I guess.
posted by atoxyl at 4:55 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Randomkeystrike (eponywhatnot!) - As a perennial audience member (i.e. non-musician), I am not shamed by our audience being collectively taken to task and taught about music by a musician. In fact, I find it delightful because it feels like personal attention from someone I admire (I understand that some -speaking of killjoys - deride that feeling as an intentional product of showmanship to which only the naive succumb, but ultimately I'm at a live show because I enjoy these illusions). There are times when a performer clearly holds the audience in contempt, but, "You guys can't clap for shit," isn't necessarily one of them. And certainly Harry Connick went out of his way to avoid implying that, which was pretty sporting considering much of that audience appeared to have been anesthetized.

Also, I am a little taken aback by the dichotomy good-versus-local.
posted by gingerest at 5:00 PM on February 2, 2015

Maybe if you had the audience stomping and clapping they'd figure out which one goes where?
posted by atoxyl at 5:06 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Watched this briefly when at work and loved it. Watched it again and I can't get over the struggle and then victory playing out on HC's face. By the end he's just beaming that he got them to swing. I'm in awe that he can play that game, while performing a flawless solo.

savetheclocktower: as swift said, all you have to do is add an extra beat to one bar of the song.

Yeah, I get that mathematically (and even musically... I know what 5/4 is, sure), but I don't think my hands could ever do that.
posted by pjenks at 5:16 PM on February 2, 2015

As maybe a counterpoint to what I just said, if you give me a set of bongos or whatever and ask me to improvise I feel like I'm wired either for some kind of triple time (6/8?) or a 3-3-2 pattern. Definitely not a boom-bap break or a rock beat despite those being all over the place - and much more relevant to genres I actually make music in. Is this an unintended consequence of the movement to expose kids to classical music? Did I get too much Celtic folk in my pre-verbal days?
posted by atoxyl at 5:28 PM on February 2, 2015

Hmm, randomkeystrike, that's interesting. I'm only an amateur (now mostly non-practicing, get it) - I have some training and have done (probably not enough) live shows, but at my level, anyway, I've always experienced performance as a kind of communication, a bidirectional exchange of energy. A good room always ='d a good performance for me. I'd deal with a bad room, but it was harder. (IANHCJ, of course, and do not presume to speak for him)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:15 PM on February 2, 2015

When he switched them over, I did the same thing as the drummer. Except I was watching the video on my phone, so I accidentally threw my phone across the room.

Seriously, that brought me joy. Your post is good and you should feel good.
posted by a hat out of hell at 6:43 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

You know, I could never see the Magic Eye posters at the mall either. I'm 40 years old now, I'm just going to accept that this is my lot in life.
posted by desjardins at 6:48 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

In America, we clap on the 2 and the 4. For those saying that 1 and 3 is just "different", it's not -- it's wrong. Clapping along is a conversation with the performer. It would be like trying to have a conversation in French with someone who is messing up all the gendered articles. One would have to wonder, even though your conversation partner "speaks" this language, if they even *get* what French was all about.
posted by Vitamaster at 7:29 PM on February 2, 2015

but then they got into tempos and I just couldn't hear the difference.

smackfu, do you mean you couldn't hear different tempos or couldn't hear different time signatures?
posted by soundguy99 at 7:41 PM on February 2, 2015

This thread is really bringing out the blowhards! I've performed for thousands of people, all clapping on the 1 and 3, and it neither confused the band nor angered them. It is certainly a culture shock coming from the USA but, hey, when in Manchester, right? All of this talk of right and wrong reminds me of everything I hated about studying at a conservatory - people conflating aesthetic sensibilities with some sort of moral high ground. Pepper in some music theory to make your case! What a load of malarkey.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:59 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

hades: " You don't need years of academic training to be able to clap in time. But maybe you do need to have had someone who got you singing or clapping along in grade school, or in the basement of the church while your parents were listening to the sermon, or around a campfire."

...and you need those singing and clapping people to be clapping on the 2 and 4. Japanese people all clap on the 1 and 3, because of constant exposure to clapping on the 1 and 3. People clap along to everything. You clap along to music in grade school, you clap in concerts, you clap when you watch people do hula...But because from early childhood you are always hearing people clap on the 1 and 3, that just reinforces the 1 and the 3. Exposure doesn't "fix" clapping on the wrong beats to different styles of music, repeated exposure to people clapping on the right beats for the type of music in question fixes it.
posted by Bugbread at 12:53 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I doubt most people could find the one in "Happy birthday to you." (Hint: it's not on "happy")

aw man and I can't find the 4 at all :(
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:05 AM on February 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Happy Birthday is in six, but you emphasize the 2 and the 5, right?
posted by Bugbread at 1:13 AM on February 3, 2015

Well, it's in 3. It's like an old-time waltz. Imagine the piano player's left hand playing a bass note on the 1, and chords on the 2 and 3, and that's the feel.
posted by thelonius at 1:25 AM on February 3, 2015

I listen primarily to harpsichord music and I always clap on 1 and 3 and it works fine and I don't know what you are all going on about.
posted by Justinian at 1:36 AM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

thelonius: "Well, it's in 3. It's like an old-time waltz."

If it's waltz-like, does that mean that it's not on the 2, it's on the 1, but the "Happy" is a one-beat lead in, coming before the 1?
Happy birthday to you,   happy birthday to you
(lead) 1    2   3   1  2   3    1    2   3  1  2
posted by Bugbread at 1:58 AM on February 3, 2015

Just because no one has done it yet:
This is a two and four world
And you clap on one and three
Come on baby
Don't Canal Street me

posted by qldaddy at 5:05 AM on February 3, 2015

Bugbread - right. "Happy" is on beat 3; it's a "lead-in" or "pick-up"
posted by thelonius at 6:10 AM on February 3, 2015

Good points Argybarg, but as I am sure you know clave patterns are over two bars.

Here is an example of a version of Pelo el Afokan's Mozambique rhythm being played over the rumba clave which accentuates the beats of the clave, especially the first and last. Here is the rumba clave in 6/8 played against the 4/4 beat on the cata with the drums playing Columbia in 6/8 and the quinto playing with both feels.
posted by asok at 6:28 AM on February 3, 2015

Good point: one cycle, two bars.

That stuff where drummers shift (sometimes as an ensemble) between 6/8 and 4/4 feels, sometime lingering in between them, is where I feel comoletely hapless. My drum teachers can shift around me while I hang on to one part but only while the beads of sweat break out on my forehead.

We all have our own levels of incompetence.
posted by argybarg at 8:01 AM on February 3, 2015

Now for homework, clap along to the "Apocalypse in 9/8" part of Genesis' Supper's Ready, where Tony Banks plays a 7/8 solo over the rest of the band's 9/8 backing rhythm.
posted by rocket88 at 8:36 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

/breaks hands
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:22 AM on February 3, 2015

I can't even teach my Girl Scouts to sing in a round. I bow down to you, Harry Connick, Jr. (The other leaders can't even do it. Everyone just switches over to whatever part I'm singing.)
posted by artychoke at 9:26 AM on February 3, 2015

rocket88: "Now for homework, clap along to the "Apocalypse in 9/8" part of Genesis' Supper's Ready, where Tony Banks plays a 7/8 solo over the rest of the band's 9/8 backing rhythm."

Does it count as cheating if you clap in 8/8 over that, or do you get extra credit for polyrhythm?

(Actually, all the Tony Banks parts whose time signature I can figure out in that song appear to be in 8/8. Which bit is in 7/8?)

Disclaimer: I cannot distinguish between 8/8, 4/8, and 8/4, so swap those numbers around as you see fit, as long as the end result is a time signature distinguishable by 4.
posted by Bugbread at 3:33 PM on February 3, 2015

(Ha ha long ago I took belly dance classes and the hardest part was learning to play zills in karsilama, which is 9/8. Playing a percussion instrument while dancing is harder than it sounds to start with, but 9/8 is a rare signature for the unstudied Western ear. If for some reason you ever need to learn a few zill drills to karsilama, here is a web page that gives you as much information as possible - it might help. However, if you're one of the people who can't clap along to 4/4 time, you probably shouldn't try to play zills. If you insist, here is a pattern to crochet mutes to protect your unsuspecting neighbors.)
(Also, I suck at this but I think the 7/8 section is most evident around the four minute mark forward here? I find it really difficult to count the Banks solo because the 9/8 drumbeat is so relentless.)
posted by gingerest at 9:56 PM on February 3, 2015

I'm pretty sure that part is in 8/8 (4/8, 8/4, whatever).
posted by Bugbread at 4:44 AM on February 4, 2015

Which bit is in 7/8?

It's all over the place, actually...especially at the start. There's some phrases that sound to be in 3 or 6, and there's a definite 7/8 section from 16:35 - 16:45 here. But it does settle into 8/8 (or 4/4) after that.
posted by rocket88 at 2:18 PM on February 4, 2015

Ah, thanks, I can totally hear that.

Weird time signatures don't throw me. Polyphony doesn't throw me. But an instrument changing time signature mid-tune absolutely throws me.
posted by Bugbread at 2:53 PM on February 4, 2015

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