Go ahead and clap between the movements!

Via Charles Noble, Alex Ross is at it again, promoting applause between movements.  (Short version, and link to PDF full text–well worth downloading.) I don’t know if Elaine Fine has read his latest or not, but she’s evidently fed up with the whole let’s-applaud-more idea.  If you don’t have Michelle Obama at your side to tell you when not to applaud, Elaine supplies a link to concert etiquette rules, many of which I agree with.  Generally speaking, though, I’m with Alex on applauding between movements, especially after big, bombastic first movements, and may get around to bloviating on the subject soon.



Filed under Uncategorized

6 responses to “Go ahead and clap between the movements!

  1. I always feel terribly awkward on stage when an audience applauds after a first movement. I tend to lose my concentration, and have to take extra time to experience the nice silence between movements that allows for proper transition. Consider the inappropriate-ness of applause before the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Consider my wording: the applause that happens after a first movement also happens before a second movement. Applause between those movements nullifies the impact of the first chord of the second movement. You may as well start with the theme!

    I feel for singers who sing songs in groups, because they often rely on the tonal center of the previous song to help them switch to the tonal center of the next song.

    By the way, I think that Barack Obama was just trying to help people who were very new to sitting still and listening to music in a concert (many of our lawmakers and statespeople didn’t grow up listening to music) fell less out of their element. He surely knows when to applaud, and he also knows how to put people at ease.

  2. Janis

    I was happy to see this article as well — the “ohgodshouldiclap?” anxiety is annoying to audiences, and even to me when I’m sitting there and I know the etiquette. If it’s a slower, quieter work, most people will subdue their applause anyhow — it’s just the fear of looking uncouth that makes people make mistakes. Short of throwing things, I’ve never seen a rock audience applaud “incorrectly.” The music itself is enough of a cue to let the audience know how to show its appreciation. (Slow ballads gets clean, uniform applause, quick numbers get shouts and more punctuated, longer applause.) I heard the LA Chamber Orch do the four seasons one time, and they rocked “Summer” so much that the place exploded when they were done. How stilted and wrong would it have been if that hadn’t happened.

    I can see how a singer would find silence between movements useful, but at the same time, no popular singer has that silence to draw on. Celine Dion, however you may feel about her music, is a very good singer, and she never had that crutch to rely on. She and others like her (Streisand, Perry, Garfunkel, etc.) probably have mental techniques that let her hold onto the center of the next song despite noise. So did Senesino and Anna Renzi, I have no doubt.

  3. Pingback: Life without the sound of silence « Eric Edberg

  4. I’m fine with applause after an exciting movement that simply calls for it. It really is spontaneous sometimes, and that sort of thing shouldn’t be denied (in my little opinion). At the same time, there are movements that call for a response of absolutely awe and silence. I think most audience members would sense that, although not all.

    Currently the hushing and horrorified looks that come when some poor unknowing (or knowing) soul applauds is as bothersome as applause at the wrong time … or maybe even more bothersome.

  5. Pingback: Applause, Applause at oboeinsight

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s