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Learn to Clap on the beat

Friends Don't Let Friends Clap on One and Three: a Backbeat Clapping Study
from Ethan Hein


Lesson about finger snapping - Duke Ellington
The audience SPONTANEOUSLY clapped on the 2 and 4

The title of this number, ladies and gentlemen, is "Things Ain´t What It Used To Be". And this time, we use it for the purpose of giving background to this finger-snapping bit. And of course you are cordially invited to join the finger-snapping. Of course one never snap´s one´s fingers on the beat, it´s considered aggressive. You don´t push it, you just let it fall. And if you´d like to be considerably hip, at the same time tilt you left earlobe. And if you're cooler than THAT, then of course you tilt the left earlobe on the beat and snap the fingers on the afterbeat. And then you really don't care. And so by routining one's finger-snapping and choreographing one's earlobe-tilting, one can become as cool as one wishes to be.

Genius Harry Connick Jr.



Harry Connick Jr & French Rhythm Accents
gets the audience to

Harry Connick Jr. beat-shifts the audience from clapping on 1 & 3 to 2 & 4

Harry Connick Jr's beat switcheroo is masterful!

Harry Connick Jr. didn't bother educating his European audience with any explanation.
Problem: audience is clapping on the 1 & 3.
Solution: insert a 3 beat tag; audience now clapping on the off-beat (and doesn't notice a thing).
It's at 0:43-0:45. Drummer raises his arms ("Yes!!") when the switch happens. He simply skips a beat, and then they're clapping on 2 and 4. It happens after the first sung chorus. You can see the drummer raise his hands in joy!

I like the days-of-the-week analogy, but in this case he adds a fifth beat to a bar, so it's like he's adding a fifth day to an otherwise four-day week, as follows:
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
C - C - C - C - C - C - C - C - C …so the claps (C) move from the 1 and 3 to the 2 and 4. That fifth beat occurs at the 40-second mark, and can be spotted because he stops playing with the left hand and the right hand simply repeats what it played in the previous beat.

You know how in every electronic song the beat is going:
Boom CLAP Boom CLAP Boom CLAP?
The idea is that you clap on the CLAP sound (snare drum), not the boom (bass drum).
1 (bass) 2 (snare) 3 (bass) 4 (snare).
To skip a beat you'd probably play the rhythm for a bit normally, then leave out all the bass drum kicks so that the audience only hears the snares. Then that would be the only thing they could clap to.

You know how the rhythm to
"We Will Rock You" by Queen goes:
Stomp Stomp Clap <PAUSE>
Stomp Stomp Clap <PAUSE>

The "Claps" are on 2 and 4, the first stomps of the pairs are on 1 and 3.
Now imagine some boob wearing his sunglasses like a hat and a popped collar starts clapping on 1 and 3:
Stomp Stomp Clap <pause>
Clap (out of sync)

Stomp Stomp Clap <pause>
Clap (out of sync)

That'd be annoying.

HEAR And Clap to

Examples of swung beats and clapping, as it pertains to dancing:

Swing Dancing for Lindy Hoppers

To get a feel for clapping on the even beats:

Usually the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdowns have live music, which induces the audience to clap:



A tradition called a jam circle involves encircling dancers who steal the spotlight, with the audience clapping (on even beats) for encouragement:


This tradition goes back a long way; see Hellzapoppin' (1941)



Lindy Hop funny instructional video : Groovie Movie (1944)


Slim Gaillard



Samples of the beat

  • Michael Jackson - Billie Jean:
  • The Honey Drippers - Impeach The President:
  • Bob James - Take Me to the Mardi Gras:
  • James Brown - Funky Drummer:
  • The Winstons - Amen Brother:

Tired of 2 and 4?
Pat metheny - first circle (from more travels dvd)


What is a chant?

Chant is the heartbeat of culture, designed to bring everyone together in harmonious synchronicity as any traveling pack animal culture needs to survive.