Finger snapping

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A video of finger snapping
Alternative snapping technique

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.

Physics[edit]

There are three components to the snapping finger sound: (1) The "friction" or "sliding" sound between the second finger and the thumb (2) The "impact" sound from the second finger colliding 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 is caused by a compression of air between the fast moving second finger and the groove created between the palm and the third (ring) or fourth (little) finger. These last two fingers aid in resonating the "pop" sound within the hand. If the third or fourth finger is not in contact with the palm, only the first two components will be heard and there will be a significant reduction in the total "snap" sound.

In culture[edit]

Pan, god of nature and the wild, and a Maenad dancing. Ancient Greek red-figured olpe from Apulia, ca. 320–310 BCE. Pan's right hand fingers are in a snapping position

In Ancient Greece snapping of fingers was used by musicians and dancers as a way to keep the rhythm[1] and it was known with the words "ἀποληκέω" (apolekeo),[2] "ἀποκρότημα" (apokrotema)[3] (from the verb "ἀποκροτέω" - apokroteo, "to snap the fingers")[4] and "ἐπίπταισμα" (epiptaisma).[5] 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."[6]

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.

In music[edit]

In Sumatran culture, finger snapping, along with chest slapping, is a common form of music.[7]

In Western music involving snapping of fingers, the sound of the snap is usually on 2 and 4 (the offbeat, like the clap).[citation needed]

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 for the television series The Addams Family.

In nursing[edit]

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.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin Litchfield West, Ancient Greek music, Oxford University Press, 199
  2. ^ ἀποληκέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  3. ^ ἀποκρότημα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  4. ^ ἀποκροτέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  5. ^ ἐπίπταισμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  6. ^ "University of Michigan Men's Glee Club || About | History_html_5". Ummgc.org. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  7. ^ 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.