Rocking along in the car to their tunes got me to thinking about how we join in when we hear music we like. In concerts, we clap along. I have noticed that if a guy tries to clap on the downbeat instead of the upbeat (1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4), everyone around him is uncomfortable and thinks he's a dweeb. What is it about that rhythm that is so wrong? I mean, they're right, but why?
To test out my theory, click on the two Great Big Sea tracks on my playlist on the right-hand column: "When I'm Up" and "Ordinary Day." Try clapping along first on the upbeat (the way that feels "right") and then on the downbeat. See?