January 4, 2017

"This is why Harry Connick Jr. is one of my favorite musicians..."

"... instead of addressing the crowd about it, he deals with it in a transparent* way keeps the show going like nothing happened. Amazing, and classy!"

"it" = the audience is clapping on the 1 and 3.

I think there's a lesson here that goes beyond music. I'm thinking of analogies in social, political, and business relationships. You're performing within a group that is getting it wrong, and you could stop and point it out and try to show them how to behave better, but instead you do something that they don't even notice that makes them start doing it right. Of course, if you had this power — Connick power — you could use it for evil.

Maybe Donald Trump has Connick power!

_________________

* This use of the word "transparent" may be confusing. We tend to say "transparent" when we mean that a person is making his intentions and motivations perfectly clear. That's exactly what Connick is not doing. But "transparent" makes sense if what you mean is that the technique used was invisible to the audience and they continued to experience the music as if nothing had happened.

ADDED: Here's an ordinary human dealing with the same situation, sans Connick power:

43 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Is this a democracy or a dictatorship? If the crowd was clapping on those beats, those were, by definition, 2 & 4. Therefore, the band was playing their notes one beat off. Good job of Harry to get the band back on beat.

Bob Ellison said...

The instant in which he just inserts another beat into the bar he's playing is so sudden and so subtle! That was sneaky and brilliant.

Is there really an analogy in social relations? You get people on a groove and then slip the groove sideways to get them on a different groove?

It happens in sports, like basketball (fake left and move right) and football (ditto).

I don't think you can make people shift drastically. If you want to shift people from supporting, say, center-leftism to supporting socialism, maybe you can start by getting them cheering for social justice and then suddenly arguing that the only way to achieve that is by soaking the rich. But you can't easily make, say, a socialist advocate free-market principles. That's too big a shift. It'd be like changing keys, instruments, tempo, and beat all of a sudden. You're playing a new song.

Curious George said...

Uh, the audience was French. How hard is it to get the French to do what you want?

Laslo Spatula said...

A REAL musician can make a German audience clap on the wrong beat during a Polka.

I am Laslo.

Jason said...

Shit, I'm a fiddle player and I do this all the time with lost accompanists. It's not "genius." Just part of stagecraft for professional musicians.

Connick is genuinely a fabulous musician, though, no question. Absolute class.

Love the drummer waving his sticks in the air when Connick pulls it off. :)

Amexpat said...

During Dylan's 1966 tour in England, fans hostile to his electric set would try to disrupt the performance by slow clapping. You can hear how Dylan brilliantly handled this on the Bootleg Series, vol. 4.

tcrosse said...

Years ago I saw Corky Siegel get an audience to stop clapping entirely by messing with the tempo. We knew why he was doing it, so we obeyed.

California Snow said...

I would have never noticed that.

Bob Ellison said...

There's value in Bieber's method. He's actually teaching the clappers something they might retain. I picture Connick's audience staring at their own hands at the end and wondering, "what just happened?"

If you're the accompanist or teacher, pausing or racing to adjust the meter to the soloist's position is commonplace, but doing it so invisibly (that's the word) with ten fingers and a fast tune is something else.

EDH said...

The link is to "Offbeat Magazine."

There's a magazine dedicated to off-beat clapping?

Evidently, and more, from the comments:

Janine Silsby • a day ago
I just read the article. Umm... Is the author really a music person writing for Offbeat.com?: "Fortunately for all of us, there are people like Harry Connick Jr. The renowned New Orleans jazz singer and pianist is not the kind of person who will let himself become a victim when the crowd begins clapping off beat."

OFF beat??? NO, dear, Sam D'Arcangelo. OFF-beat is what dear Harry is TEACHING them. That is why the signature NOLA music mag that you are writing for is called OFF-BEAT. Now while I will give you that Harry is getting them onto the correct beat, that correct beat IS the OFF beat. Consider yourself schooled, Sam.

PS: Sam, I do agree with your upset about audiences who clap ON the beat. It drives me nuts!

Wilbur said...

Wilbur went to his share of Polish weddings back in the day. There was very little clapping going on during polkas ... those who weren't dancing were busy drinking.

Never had a bad time at a Polack wedding.

EDH said...

Headline: "Justin Bieber gave entire audience The Clap."

Sydney said...

I have such a poor sense of rhythm I could not see or hear anything happening in that video clip.

EDH said...

Connick seemed to be channelling Leon Russell with that tune, even the vocals.

Jason said...

The 2 and 4 are not the "off" beats.

The off beats are the 3:2 AGAINST the 4/4.

that is, the hemiola.

Yea, verily.



Big Mike said...

Of course, if you had this power — Connick power — you could use it for evil.

Maybe Donald Trump has Connick power!


So far I'd say Trump was using super-Connick power for good.

Nonapod said...

That's pretty cool. Real genius would be getting an audience to clap in an odd time signature. Try getting them to clap to Soundgarden's "The Day I Tried to Live" (which is something like one measure of 7/4 followed by two of 4/4).

Humperdink said...

"I have such a poor sense of rhythm I could not see or hear anything happening in that video clip."

Me too. I took dancing lessons and had all the moves, but couldn't dance to the beat. Finally, the exasperated instructor came to me during a lesson and asked: "Have you ever heard of the word rhythm?".

Fernandinande said...

Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake beats’ during election, experts say.

eric said...

I watched it and saw nothing happen but a good performance. Guess I'm the oblivious white guy with no sense of rythm.

sean said...

I had seen the Connick video a few days ago. I was really impressed by Connick's musicianship, to be able to stick in one extra beat. Note that he did it when only he was playing: I can't imagine the level of musicianship necessary to get a band to add an extra beat.

traditionalguy said...

Connick power is Scott Adams' teaching to mirror your audience until they start to mirror you back, and only then to change the pacing and LEAD them.

I always called that an argument starting with humility in the opening statement and only using the coup de grace in the closing argument.

You know who else can do it. Mike Pence, our next President, that's who can.

traditionalguy said...

All Bieber has is Cannuck power. He is from Stratford, Ontario where teaching acting is an honored profession.

Paul said...

Great piano player. Great band. Very enjoyable all around! You know that's not the first time he's done that as I imagine he plays for a lot of unfunky audiences. The French probably are the worst. You never hear a backbeat in French music!

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I wonder whether Mr. Connick ever had to do that with his wife.

Michael McClain said...

Connick is both a talented singer and a talented actor. Too many of the current singer/idols would be nothing without dubbing and sound technicians/engineers.

EMD said...

"Connick is both a talented singer and a talented actor"

I never understood why he was never a bigger star in Hollywood. He's handsome, but a little goofy looking, can carry a tune, and isn't out of shape. He could've had his own "Man with the Golden Arm" or "From Here to Eternity."

C Stanley said...

Love, love Harry. I was once at a high school party that he was also attending but did not actually meet him. At the time he was already a rising star in the music world, but in classical and jazz circles, and he was a very geeky kid so we (teenaged girls) did not recognize the appeal.

Though I missed that chance, I did meet several members of the Marsalis family and remember Wynton, an alum of my high school, coming to visit and playing his horn on the back steps.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

traditionalguy said...

You know who else can do it. Mike Pence, our next President, that's who can.

Are you suggesting that Trump will die before having a chance to be sworn in?

Graham Powell said...

Harry's ready for anything. I saw a concert in Louisiana one time where his dad Harry Sr (former New Orleans DA) got up to sing... and forgot the words! Jr instantly came back with, "Don't worry dad, that's how scat singing was invented!"

Jason said...

The French probably are the worst. You never hear a backbeat in French music!

Stephane Grappelli would like to have a word with you.

Paul said...

Gyspy jazz isn't really what I would consider French music. It's not very funky either.

PB said...

Talent and awareness.

Awesome combination.

rehajm said...

Harry is one of my favorite musicians because he scored Jill Goodacre. Bravo.

Titus said...

I was home for the holidays in Wisconsin and he has a talk show?

John Lynch said...

...and that's how you raise kids.

FullMoon said...

tcrosse said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Years ago I saw Corky Siegel get an audience to stop clapping entirely by messing with the tempo. We knew why he was doing it, so we obeyed.


Whoa! Thanks for that.. just youtubed it
I'm a king bee, buzzin' 'round your hive....


Tess said...

yell at me but i never saw how Harry was involved just Justin.

tim maguire said...

I listened to it while getting ready for my own piano lesson and...I guess I'm not destined to be a great musician because I'd be one of the audience members who had no idea what he'd done, or even that he'd done anything other than play some great piano.

Wilbur said...

Wilbur has seen snippets of Harry's show while lying on his back in the dentist's chair, mouth agape, and generally unable to hear Harry over the unavoidable doings by the nice woman dentist working away.

That said, it seemed to be an uncommonly pleasant show, with a genial host who seemed smart enough to steer clear of politics and other unpleasantness.



Kirk Parker said...

Sean,

"I can't imagine the level of musicianship necessary to get a band to add an extra beat."

Piece of cake. The hard part is communicating to the band that you're going to do so, and exactly when.

I just heard a fabulous concert by a local guy who went to Memphis and made it semi-big; he was visiting home for the holidays and got
one of the local clubs to feature him a few days before Christmas. It was a fabulous show, but I only found out at the first break that the rest of the band were local folks who hadn't even rehearsed with him. They both knew all the songs, and were adept enough to just adapt to each other. I doubt anyone in the audience who didn't know him and actually had a chance to chat with him at the break could have told that.

Paul said...

I can't tell you the number of times people have come up to me after a set and remarked how tight the band sounds and ask how long we've been together, at which point I look at my watch...

Jamie said...

To Jason above I echo the yea, verily! Gotta love a good hemiola.