Sunday, January 02, 2005

Folk on the Hill

It was early to rise on New Year's Day, a day when usually there would be nothing better than to be able to sleep in, to dream away the misgivings of the year left behind. We had returned home relatively early from a small party with friends the night before, in order to get as much sleep as possible before the early drive up to the Woodford Folk Festival.

When I first went, a few years ago, I'd had virtually no sleep and didn't have a terribly good day in the above-average heat we were having that summer and was half falling asleep by sundown. This time it wasn't too hot and I really enjoyed the day, looking around at all the different stalls and visiting the many music stages around the place. The night-time fire event was really good as well, on the hill, which was covered by a vast sea, thousands upon thousands of people under the stars.

Right at the end of the fire event there they had a song, one of those happy songs that people like to clap along to in time with the beat. I noticed a group of people who had begun to clap along to every second beat and it kind of made me think about the evolution of applause and the dynamics of clapping along to a song in a crowd.

The rhythmic clap was slowly spreading through the crowd, finding residence in any willing mind it could persuade. But its steady reign was to come to an end when about half way through the song, a competing clap entered the fray, bolstered to dominance by view of the choir clapping above their heads to every beat. This new rhythm spread like wildfire throughout the audience, eventually roaring to disjointed applause at the song's end before dying out completely.

Woodford pilgrimage to the hill


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