Snapping (or clicking) one's fingers is the act of creating a snapping or clicking sound with one's fingers. Primarily this is done by building tension between the thumb and another (middle, index, or ring) finger and then moving the other finger forcefully downward so it hits the palm of the same hand at a high speed. Alternatively, one can press the middle finger and thumb together and then fling the index finger into them.
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There are three components to the snapping finger sound: (1) The "friction" or "sliding" sound between the second (middle) finger and the thumb (2) The "impact" sound from the second finger colliding with a groove created by contacting the third (ring) finger with the palm and (3) The "pop" sound from the rapid compression and subsequent decompression of air. The third "pop" sound is the most audible of the three components and because it is caused by a compression of air between the fast moving second finger and the groove between the palm and third finger, the second finger must hit both the palm and and a small portion of the top of the third finger in order to get the full "snap" sound. If the second finger only hits the palm, only the first two components will be heard and there will be a significant reduction in the total "snap" sound. This usually happens because the third finger is simply not in contact with the palm, but it can also happen if the third finger doesn't align properly with the striking point of the second finger. In this case, no part of the second finger lands anywhere on top of the third finger and ends up only hitting the palm.
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In Ancient Greece snapping of fingers was used by musicians and dancers as a way to keep the rhythm and it was known with the words "ἀποληκέω" (apolekeo), "ἀποκρότημα" (apokrotema) (from the verb "ἀποκροτέω" - apokroteo, "to snap the fingers") and "ἐπίπταισμα" (epiptaisma). Finger snapping is still common in modern Greece.
Finger snapping may be used as a substitute for hand clapping. The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club has a long tradition of doing this. The club's history states, "The reason behind this (as legend goes) is you can't clap and hold a beer [at the same time]! Another possible reason is that snapping is less disruptive than clapping during speeches and announcements."
Snapping one's fingers abruptly and repetitively, often in conjunction with one or more spoken exclamations, is commonly employed in getting someone else's attention.
The sounds of a fingersnap also are sampled and used in many disparate genres of music, used mostly as percussion; the works of Angelo Badalamenti exhibit this in the soundtracks to, e.g., Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, as does the theme song from the television series The Addams Family.
If a patient comes to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness, snapping fingers can be used to assess level of responsiveness. It is similar to calling the name of the patient to arouse them from the unconscious state.
- Martin Litchfield West, Ancient Greek music, Oxford University Press, 199
- ἀποληκέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- ἀποκρότημα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- ἀποκροτέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- ἐπίπταισμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- "University of Michigan Men's Glee Club || About | History_html_5". Ummgc.org. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
- Putnam, Margaret (1991-03-06). "Dancing sound effects Sumatrans perform with chest-slapping and finger-snapping". The Dallas Morning News (Nl.newsbank.com). Retrieved 2011-12-28.