Here’s Something You Probably Never Wondered About: The History of Clapping

Clapping is the most common sound that we, as humans, use without using our vocal cords. The average speed of our clapping ranges from 2½ to 5 claps per second. Clapping is recognized through every culture in the world, and it’s one of the most universal means of communication. It really has little to do with an individual’s personal opinion of the quality of a performance, and more to do with the feeling of belonging to the group. Clapping can be traced all the way back to the 6th century BC, when it was proper to clap in approval of leaders, since there were too many people to meet individually. Through this practice came applause as we know it today. In fact, theaters used to hire "claques" — an organized body of professional applauders — to clap, cry, or laugh at the right moments in order to influence the audience’s reactions. The job of the claque has now been taken over by clap tracks and laugh tracks that are prerecorded and used in the production of television shows. There's also clapping etiquette. Take, for example, golf tournaments. The audience knows not to clap until a play has been made, and even then, they use the “soft clap.” Clapping has come a long way and communicates a lot of different messages, and now that’s one less thing you have to wonder about.