Posted by HEx 2018-11-16 at 22:51

So a friend of mine tweeted about something that bothers him. It bothers me too, just in the opposite direction. Maybe finding someone with actual opinions on this is my chance to resolve something that's puzzled me my entire life.

Humans do a lot of things that baffle me. Applauding is one of them. In my world, if you go to see musicians perform, it is only polite to shut the hell up and not disrupt the experience for other audience members or interrupt the concentration of the performers. Optionally, you can show your appreciation afterwards using the bizarre but societally-approved method of repeatedly smashing your palms together1, but don't do it in the middle of a piece. If you're not sure if it's still the middle of the piece, err on the side of extreme caution to avoid making an ass of yourself. To my mind, even doing it immediately afterwards can ruin the moment. Me, I'd give it a good twenty seconds of silence first, particularly after a quiet ending.

It could of course be worse. It could be a rock concert, where clapping and whistling and screaming and making a general hullabaloo is considered SOP. And what do the organizers do? They turn the fucking volume up to compensate, to the point that earplugs are recommended accessories for frequent concert-goers. Do Not Want.

My conclusions have largely been "people are weird, film at eleven" and "avoid live music concerts, particularly rock concerts". Sadly this is insufficient, because live recordings are a thing. Audience noises do not add "atmosphere" to a recording, they just reduce the signal-to-noise and make it more annoying to listen to.2

Anyway, back to the tweet. "I let people applaud whenever they fucking wanted to in my concerts." To my mind this misses the point entirely. You can't prevent people from applauding! This is the whole problem! Trying to dissuade people beforehand would indeed almost certainly get you perceived as a stuck up wanker, and thus as a performer there is simply nothing you can do.

This is one of many reasons I don't give concerts. A minor one, admittedly, overshadowed by the fact that I suck and I have no idea how to find a venue or an audience3. Still, the possibility of being applauded at mid-musicking haunts me, because I know I would react badly.

Music is important. Don't ruin it by clapping. Please?

(I guess in addition to being a stuck up wanker I am also a contrarian windbag for not wanting to reply within 140^H^H^H280 characters.)

[1] I'd be delighted if people were to adopt the mould-friendly thumbs-up.

[2] Not to mention that, for a given amount of practice, it is much easier to make an accurate recording with modern editing technology than it is to make an accurate real-time performance. Mistakes do not add atmosphere either.

[3] There's also that one time when I was ~12 when I bowed to the wall because people assumed I knew what bowing was for. I didn't, and was confused when faithfully executing the macro I'd been given earned me a reprimand afterwards.

Leave a comment