The handclap used to be an essential percussive element in Pop music. It is a very human sound, whose pitch and texture isn’t entirely predictable. It depends on a well functioning, but inevitably flawed, human brain and the presence of two hands. Its rhythm isn’t always accurate. It invariably adds energy, excitement and risk to a song’s performance. Because humans are involved, things can so easily go wrong. That’s why it is becoming increasingly scarce. It’s a sound, more often these days, replaced by a machine.
My record buying began at peak Glam. Almost all Glam records featured handclaps. T.Rex’s Get It On has everything, a great guitar riff, honking sax, wailing backing vocals, strings, even a Rick Wakeman glissando, but without the handclaps it would be nothing.
The prize for best handclapping stamina must go to The Stooges. No Fun lasts nearly five minutes. The handclaps drive it relentlessly on without pause, without hesitation and without missing a single beat. They remain resolutely undistracted throughout all the chaos, including the wild fuzz guitar solo in the last two minutes which thrashes all over Iggy’s vocal.
For off-beat smatterings that decorate rather than drive a song, you will go » Continue Reading.