Is It Really So Bad To Clap On 1 And 3 Instead Of 2 And 4? Friday March 11 2022, 2:27 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
Is It Really So Bad To Clap On 1 And 3 Instead Of 2 And 4?

Why Is Clapping On 1 And 3 So Bad?


Here's what you've all been waiting for: a black professional female musician's opinion on the annoyance of hearing people clap on beats 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4. But my thoughts on the matter might actually surprise you. First thing's first, it's fun to clown people who don't clap "right" when I'm on stage or in the audience, but I'm not intensely annoyed by it like other musicians are. I'm not here to shame you (too hard) if you like clapping on beats 1 and 3.

Clapping on 1 and 3 really isn't clapping "offbeat". Beats 1 through 4 are all good beats, so don't think you're doing anything that horrible unless you're not catching any of them. With the exception of those that are good with syncopation and purposely missing the beat, you're really offbeat if you're catching beats like 1.5 and 3.75. 

Beats 2 and 4 are often referred to as the backbeat in many forms of popular western music. When the drummer is playing, they usually reserve beats 2 and 4 for trebly percussions like a snare or a snap, so it works very well to place your claps on these beats. It just doesn't sound as great when you're clapping on 1 and 3. 

Why Does It Seem So Hard For Some People To Clap On 2 And 4? 


Clapping on beats 2 and 4 really boils down to the music culture that you've been exposed to and the amount of rhythm you naturally have in your bones. Black people are notoriously well-known for having the claps on lock because our beloved genres like jazz and gospel with blues roots really put a heavy focus on drum instrumentation that works well for claps placed on 2 and 4. 

If you're not exposed to this type of music often enough, it won't be subconsciously engrained into the way you connect with music. If you're not that rhythmically in tune with music at all, then you're definitely going to have a hard time catching any of the beats. Being able to recognize how a steady beat from a young age will really help you with this process and make it hard for you if you're just learning as an adult. 

Don't even think about trying to add swaying or dance moves to the mix if you aren't that familiar with a steady beat or African American music culture. It's like watching a trainwreck in real-time! I'm usually somewhere cracking up laughing and feeling bad for these rhythmless souls at the same time. 


When To Clap On Beats 2 And 4


Clapping on beats 2 and 4 works well for the most popular western music genres like Rock, Pop, R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz, Dance, and Gospel music. It's very rare that you'll find a song where clapping on beats 2 and 4 won't work, so if you're confused, go for these beats. 

If you're feeling like you're not confident, try to focus on the drums in the song and get a sense of where you hear the snares, the claps, or a tambourine. Try stomping your feel on two and four in addition to clapping on 2 and 4 and you'll likely feel the naturalness of your body with the rhythmic flow of the song over time. 

Related Post: How To Dance And Sing At The Same Time

When To Clap On Beats 1 And 3


Some genres of music actually work well with clapping on 1 and 3 or clapping on all 4 beats. If you're in an audience and the song style is something along the lines of polka or marching band music, your claps will actually sound pretty well placed. 

You'd be surprised, but some genres with Afro-Caribbean and Latin American flavors like soca and merengue actually blend well with claps that are placed on beats 1 and 3 as well. You can either clap on 1 and 3, all 4 beats, or a syncopated beat that you will need to have a good rhythmic ear for. 

How To Trick Your Audience Into Clapping On 2 And 4


One of my favorites, Harry Connick Jr., came up with a fun way to get an audience on the right beat if they're clapping on 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4. He changed the rhythmic flow right around the 40-second mark in the video above. Obviously, this won't work if you're not leading the instrumentation, but it's an interesting way to see how people don't realize they're doing it "wrong" and are tricked into doing it "right". The audience didn't even notice a thing when he switched it up! 





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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!

If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.



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