Reading Time: 2 minutes

In a post called The (Actual) Evolution of Cool, I described the difference between cool and non-cool music using Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and a Sousa march. TL;DR: Putting the emphasis in unexpected places tickles the cerebellum’s timekeeper, which simulates danger, which feels cool.

One way to inject the unexpected into music is by emphasizing the offbeats. If a song has four beats per measure, as most do, beats 1 and 3 are strong beats, the obvious places to put your emphasis. Polka bands, marches, and hymns all emphasize 1 and 3.

But if you want to be even cooler than a hymn, throw the emphasis to the offbeats — one-TWO-three-FOUR.

Harry Connick Jr. is a cool guy, but his audience is mostly white suburban moms, sorry, which means the clapping is gonna be on 1 and 3, which kills the feels. And the particular kind of New Orleans jazz he plays can teeter between cool and square, so a little push from the wrong side of the beat is death.

The concert clip below starts with 40 seconds of painful 1-3 clapping, and sure enough, Connick’s piano sounds rinky dink. But right at 0:40 Connick adds a beat, turning one of the four-beat measures into a five-beat measure. The audience just keeps clapping on every other beat, but now they’re on 2 and 4, and everybody wins. You can see the drummer exulting in the background when he realizes that Connick saved the swing:

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UinRq_29jPk” /]

Genius move.


Click LIKE below to follow Dale McGowan on Facebook!

 

h/t Rob Tarr | Top image by Stephanie Schoyer Creative Commons 2.0

Title inspiration via Drummer’s Resource

 

Avatar photo

Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.