Remember our series of Rifftides riffs and exchanges about applause? It started like this.
Then it went here
In the past year and a half, the issue has not gone away. San Diego Union-Tribune classical music critic Valerie Scher’s Sunday, July 8 column bore the headline, “Think Before You Stand Up.” It began,
There’s a malady sweeping the nation that’s highly contagious to concertgoers. It doesn’t have a name yet, so let’s call it Excessive Ovation Syndrome (EOS for short). Those suffering from it stand and applaud at performances that aren’t good enough to deserve such enthusiasm. In extreme cases, they shout “Bravo!” during events that are best forgotten.
To read all of Ms. Scher’s case for restraining misplaced enthusiasm, go here.
Comments, as always, are welcome. If yours is for Valerie Scher, I’ll be happy to pass it along.
Michael J. West says
Funny, on the D.C. jazz scene I’ve been on one side of exactly the opposite debate.
There’s something of a jazz “district” in this city, where all the restaurants and bars have a band playing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. And the same thing always happens: everybody’s going about their meals and conversations, ignoring great music being played at the front of the room…except me, the guy who applauds the good solos. Then everybody else hears me and follows my clapping lead.
Some musicians I’ve talked to say they don’t mind, that gigs at the Thai restaurant are low-key and low-pressure; others tell me that it’s not good for the music, since they don’t know when it’s good or bad because nobody responds either way.
Oddly enough, these people always say that the jazz is the reason they frequent these establishments; it makes me sympathize with Mingus and the “poppaloppers” soliloquy, although I know Mingus didn’t like applause either…which makes me a poppalopper….
Anyway, all this ranting is to say that sometimes I think overapplauding would be refreshing. 🙂
Chip Boaz says
I think that there are bigger sociological issues at work here. I think that as a culture, we don’t understand jazz anymore. For most people at restaurants, nightclubs, etc . . . music creates ambiance. True, they enjoy it, and they may even frequent the club because of it. Yet, ask your normal clubbie what constitutes a “good” solo, and I don’t know if they would be able to answer in any type of specifics. Go deeper and talk about the difference in saxophone styles between Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, and I think that you’ll get a blank stare.
I don’t mean to sound cynical, but I really believe that we’ve lost touch with jazz culture . . . perhaps musical culture altogether. Most people don’t listen analytically. Most people don’t really listen at all – they just hear the music in the background. That needs to change before clapping can be used as a gauge of musical success.
I agree with Michael that over-applauding is better than not applauding. At least it recognizes the musician’s efforts and brings the audience’s attention onto the musical experience.
Cliff Preiss says
I don’t mind applause nearly as music as I mind whistling….