Cup game

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For the board game Cups, see Cups (game).

The cup game is a children's clapping game that involves tapping and hitting a cup using a defined rhythm. The game can be played by many players seated around a table and is often played in large groups. Each player possesses a cup and in unison the players tap out the defined rhythm using their cups. It can be played competitively, where a player making a mistake in the rhythm must drop out of the game, with game play continuing until only one player remains.

Cup game rhythm[edit]

The cup game begins with a cup placed upside down in front of each player. Assuming a right-handed player, the rhythm normally proceeds as follows:

  • Beat #1: Clap twice or thrice
  • Beat #2: Alternating hands, rapidly tap the top of the cup with the fingertips three times (In some variations, the table on either side of the cup is tapped)
  • Beat #3: Clap once
    • Pick up the cup with the right hand and move it to the right
  • Beat #4: Put the cup down onto the table (still upside down) with a firm percussive motion
  • Beat #1: Clap once
    • Pick up the cup with the right hand so that the cup is now right-side up
  • Beat #2: Tap the top of the cup (the open end of the cup) with the flat of the left hand so as to make a hollow-sounding hit
    • Put the cup down onto the table (now right-side up) with a firm percussive motion, but keeping the right hand on the cup
  • Beat #3: Again pick up the cup with the right hand, and tap the top of the cup with the flat of the left hand
    • Slap the left hand down flat onto the table
  • Beat #4: With the cup still in the right hand, return the cup to its original starting position, upside down on the table in front of the player

Repeat the above sequence indefinitely. Some versions involve variations where the players exchange cups during the performance of the rhythm, or players slap hands with each other.[1]

Another cup game rhythm[edit]

In the Lulu and the Lampshades (and newer) performances, this is the right hand which slaps down flat onto the table.

  • Beat #1: Clap twice or thrice
  • Beat #2: Alternating hands, rapidly tap the top of the cup with the fingertips three times (In some variations, the table on either side of the cup is tapped)
  • Beat #3: Clap once
    • Pick up the cup with the right hand and move it to the right
  • Beat #4: Put the cup down onto the table (still upside down) with a firm percussive motion
  • Beat #1: Clap once
    • Pick up the cup with the right hand (thumb down) so that the cup is now right-side up
  • Beat #2: Tap the top of the cup (the open end of the cup) with the flat of the left hand so as to make a hollow-sounding hit
    • Put the cup down onto the table (now right-side up) with a firm percussive motion, but keeping the right hand on the cup
  • Beat #3: With the cup still in the right hand, tap the bottom of the cup with the flat of the left hand and take it with the left hand
    • Slap the right hand down flat onto the table (near the player's left side)
  • Beat #4: With the cup now in the left hand, return the cup to its original starting position, upside down on the table in front of the player (or in front of the player to the right) with a firm percussive motion

Repeat the above sequence indefinitely.

In music[edit]

Christian singer Rich Mullins used the cup game to accompany his song "Screen Door" on his 1987 album Pictures in the Sky. In 2009 the band Lulu and the Lampshades used the game in their performance of the 1930 Carter Family song When I'm Gone as modified to suit the game by "Lulu" (Luisa Gerstein). Rapper P.O.S also uses the cup game in Optimist (We Are Not for Them) from his 2009 album Never Better. In 2011 the cup game was again used by Anna Burden to accompany the song "When I'm Gone" in a YouTube video that went viral. Anna Kendrick taught herself to copy Burden's video, and this was worked into her performance in the 2012 film Pitch Perfect, her version When I'm Gone (Cups) in turn becoming widely copied with a 2013 video after the single from the soundtrack rose on the national and international charts.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Cup Game". Zoom Games. Retrieved August 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ Robert Samuels (February 26, 2013). "‘Cups,’ the ‘Pitch Perfect’ patty-cake game that’s gone viral in the schoolyard". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 12, 2013. 

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