Why do crowds, clapping to a beat, always eventually overlap each other ?



Why do crowds, clapping to a beat, always eventually overlap each other ?

In: Other

Because if someones slow by just an individually undetectable fraction of a beat you’ll really hear it when contrasted with someone whos clapping just a little too fast.

I believe it’s due to humans’ natural pattern following. Over a period, people subconsciously ‘line up’ with those around them, for example when clapping, simply due to the wiring of the brain.

This Veritasium video can explain it better than I can, but it’s the same mechanism that causes metronomes to sink up


edit: I read that backwards. As people who applaud tend to sink their claps after awhile, due to the above information

When people are involved there are always a bunch of complicated psychological effects at work influencing how individuals react, plus the emergent effects of large group interactions.

But, the basic idea is really simple: Any combination of regular cycles with different periods will always eventually overlap.

For example, let us model the clapping as if you were counting a number sequence. One person claps every 3 units, while a second person counts every 4 units. They both start at 0 but the first claps on 3, the second on 4. They are out of sync. The second cycle the first person is at 6, the second on 8. Third cycle has the first at 9, the second at 12. But since the first person is clapping faster than the second, their fourth cycle comes in at 12 right in sync with the second person’s third cycle!

No communication between those people are required, that is just the nature of cycles of different periods. The only way they wouldn’t eventually overlap is if they were clapping with exactly the same frequency but out of sync, which isn’t something that is likely to happen unintentionally.

I think you need to reiterate. Are you asking about a crowd clapping and syncing up or people clapping to a beat and staying together as a group but getting out of time / speeding up?