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windex's avatar

What do people clap during concerts?

Asked by windex (2921 points ) April 8th, 2011

This is probably on the list of my top 10 most hated things in life.

I’m there to enjoy the music, you need to keep your mouth shut and not make any noise. People just clap during the performance like that’s going to improve the song.

The band members do not need you to act like a metronome, or “assist” them in any way to make the song better.

Why do people do this? There ought to be a law against this.

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29 Answers

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Let’s take that chip off your shoulder & put it back in the Doritos bag for a moment. It is a concert, not an art museum. They (& you) are there to have fun & enjoy the live music. If you want to hear just the band play, buy their music & stay at home & listen to it. Or you could relax & realize that the energy from the audience is a part of the concert going experience.

Hibernate's avatar

Sorry mate but people do that for different reasons.

To bad you don’t enjoy it.

BeeVomit's avatar

That’s a question that you ought to answer yourself, by clapping along with the song. Maybe you’ll find the hidden meaning there, and get over your issue with those who choose to for themselves. I’m sure if you posed to question to each individual in turn, you would get a different answer.

I recall recently making a point with a friend of mine. He took me out to the concert tour How The Grouch Stole Christmas when it came to San Luis Obispo, CA, and at the very beginning and all through the night, the performers encouraged everyone to wave their hands to the beat (it was a rap concert). My friend had just broken his arm at work, and in the spirit of the night, I kept my arms in the air for much (nearly all) of the 3-hour concert. My arms were very tired at the end, and I felt like a goof the whole time, but it was great nonetheless!

I too sometimes have problems with others singing along, clapping, or doing set dances (like in Church gatherings), but I often find that the more people get into it the more fun we all have. The latter is also a cool way to remember the songs, and children in particular often need that stimulus to keep their attention. One way to think of it is keeping that tradition going for the next generation, so that our traditions and histories aren’t lost in ignorance.

That same friend recently has researched that hearts often and almost always beat at the same tempo as the music they’re listening to (ie. people who listen to fast rave music often have premature heart attacks. They also act hyper, getting an adrenaline rush from the process. People who listen to classical slow music have a milder temperament and think through things before acting. That’s why parents are encouraged to let their children listen to Mozart). I would guess that the reason people clap has much to do with this fact; they are keeping the rhythm to the song and their own hearts. The activity also helps the blood move in that same beat, because of the physical exertion and pulse they are actively creating.

A lot of musicians and bands encourage clapping because it does get the audience involved. It’s fun and entertaining for the audience to feel a part of the show. When people are recording in the back, they aren’t just picking up the band’s music. It’s a great thing to know that a recording you see or hear after the fact has the tiny sound of your own clapping helping the beat somewhere within it.

Don’t you ever listen to a song you like and sing along, or hum it later? It’s a similar concept. Ever see Stomp? They actually encourage the audience to participate by clapping, and getting them active. Teaching the audience (like a bunch of children) to make music with their hands; an experience they can carry on to their own children later on. If you had a song, wouldn’t you like it if others wanted to clap to it or sing along? If you were playing a cover song, would you begrudge your audience the right to sing it as well?

I had the unique experience (again, including that friend) of seeing Worldwind at a party here in SLO and being so moved that I sung out (not with words, but a general happy sound, long and melodious as I’m often known to do), while the band was playing. I had a great time dancing about with the people there, feeling the music in me and letting my body absorb the beat. Later that night, when we had lit a fire behind the barn where it all took place, the lead player who had seen me singing, as well as I had seen him playing, took a spot to warm himself by the fire right across from me. I could tell he was about to say something to me (I know not an encouragement or reprimand, or perhaps a job offer?) but was interrupted in his thoughts by a guy next to me complimenting the singing he’d heard halfway through the act. He thought it was genuinely cool and wondered at who had sung, because all the players were so into their instruments. The guy just smiled and said thank you, not mentioning me at all. I knew though, that whatever problem he might have had at the time was completely past and forgiven.

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sakura's avatar

I agree with @beevomit LURVE the name I think they hit the nail on the head and made valid points. Every concert I have been to the band have encouraged the audience to clap along from rock pop to west end shows

FluffyChicken's avatar

Because it is fun! When you move to the music you are fully experiencing it, especially if you are a part of the creation of the music. If you don’t enjoy seeing others having fun, don’t go to concerts.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Really? I mean I can understand getting mad at the overly drunk people at concerts who constantly bump into you or spill their beer all over the place, but clapping? Do you go to venues with such poor sound that you cant hear the music over some people clapping?

Seelix's avatar

I don’t go to a ton of concerts, mainly because I can’t afford to. I love music – I’m not a musician myself, but music is part of my life in a big way.

When I do go to a concert, it’s a band that I love, whose lyrics I know by heart. I clap and yell and jump around because I’m in the moment and completely enjoying the experience. Being that the huge majority of concerts I go to are punk rock bands, no one ever minds.

Personally, I can’t stand to see people just sitting or standing there, staring, not moving or even tapping a toe. If you’re not that into it, don’t go – let someone who’s passionate about the band have the ticket instead.

As others have said, a lot of bands will encourage the crowd to clap or sing along. I don’t think the musicians clap their hands above their heads just for the hell of it.

What you’ve said, @windex, could easily apply to a symphony performance. But a rock concert? Ease up, dude. If you don’t like the atmosphere, stay home and listen to a CD.

dxs's avatar

EXACTLY!
I am not sure of what type of “concert” that you are talking about, but I am in a small competetive ensemble and when people clap, it throws all of us off. It could be either applauding or clapping to the “beat”. some people just dont have it, i swear What is weird is that when I see my components’ bands, their directors start an applaud or clap in the risers! I myself don’t clap until the end just incase the performers feel the way I do, even though it seems a little poorsportsmanshiplike. Another thing is that it drowns out the sound of the ensemble, like you said, which I want to hear. I agree exactly with what you say and I like how I can relate to someone else who thinks the same thing when seemingly nobody else does.

theninth's avatar

It’s participation. It’s being caught up in the moment. It’s celebrating. It also provides feedback to the band. They do need it to assist them in a way because it lets them know they’re invigorating the audience. It lets them know that the audience is into it, enjoying it, and they’re part of the experience.

@seelix sometimes the people just sitting there staring ARE into it, just in a different way. I don’t move at all during concerts. I sometimes can’t because I’m overwhelmed by everything going on and I don’t want to move a muscle because I don’t want to miss anything.

MilkyWay's avatar

To get in the mood, to keep they’re bodies in rythm, to express they’re feelings and commitment to the performer,to feel a closeness with the performer, to make things louder. People go to concerts to be noisy, it’s part of the package (and the performers say ”Make some noise” for a reason.).

aprilsimnel's avatar

Musicians do want that feedback! It’s what makes a performance a communion, of sorts. Even at a classical performance, while you don’t clap after every movement, after the piece is over, the orchestra/ensemble wants to hear that the audience appreciated their efforts.

Seelix's avatar

@theninth – Good point; I hadn’t thought about it that way.

filmfann's avatar

Rock concerts have everyone sitting down, listening to the band. What they want to do is dance. Clapping allows them to interact with the music.

BeeVomit's avatar

@dxs You have a good point. In jazz, concertos, etc. it’s proper etiquette to keep your presence to a minimum. If the atmosphere is sober and formal, don’t get wild or start clapping or whatever. If the concert is a big thing and people are rowdy, it’s a bar scene or whatever… let them get their ya-ya’s out. The band’s experience definitely has to do with their comfort level having you in the bleachers participating.

BeeVomit's avatar

@filmfann I’ve never been to a rock concert with people sitting down. Indie music concerts, sure, but rock and roll is called so for a reason!

Ivan's avatar

Their hands?

dxs's avatar

@BeeVomit curious to know why you decided to make that you username
Yes; the mood is more of a relaxed one (they play pop music between performances, concession stands, in high school gyms, etc), but we get judged and all because it is competetive.

boffin's avatar

@Ivan Damn, I wanted to give that answer…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Because they’re caught up, they feel it, they’re communicating non-verbally.

mrrich724's avatar

Damn. I thought I was grumpy!!! No clapping at concerts?! Super HUGE LOL.

josie's avatar

They bought the ticket, in some case for an exhorbitant price. They ought to be able to do what they want within the limits of the law.

blueiiznh's avatar

ummm, its simply a form of appreciation.
If you don’t want to do it, don’t.
As far as if it interupts the music, I guess it varies depending on the type of music.
Music is meant to move a person in feeling it.
My guess is you were not at any of the Woodstock concerts.

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BeeVomit's avatar

@dxs The name comes loosely from the literal form of one of my favorite things: Honey.

There’s something more I’d like to add… I don’t know if you feel this way, folks, but a lot of what I see in people is the willingness to watch others do what they want to do. It’s a part of the mystery and allure of the music industry.. To even get out and start to sing (I know plenty of folks who don’t out of nothing better than fear) is a great achievement in itself. For instance, I would love to be a singer, but I dislike the sound of my own recorded voice.

Now I’m not saying clapping is either good nor bad at this time, just that it’s part of that process of a musician’s development. It helps to lay the stage for a performer. If the audience likes music enough to keep the beat, maybe it’s good for the player’s growth to know that they’ve reached that point. Maybe the next time they’ll want to practice harder to maintain their focus through a clapping crowd.

Isn’t it true that in many battle of the band competitions the winners are judged by the audience’ reaction?

RareDenver's avatar

@BeeVomit earlier in the thread you stated people who listen to fast rave music often have premature heart attacks and People who listen to classical slow music have a milder temperament and think through things before acting

Could you please link to some evidence or studies to back up this claim?

BeeVomit's avatar

Sorry, this information came from a friend who was reading a scientific journal about the topic. I trust his info was on the level because he’s pretty anal about my lack of direct sources on other stuff. I’m not going to go searching for it. It ought to be just as easy for you to get the article as I, since I don’t have much free time on computers these days.

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