With Claps As Percussion – Songs With A Difference

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When you are happy and you know it
Clap your hands
When you are happy and you know it
And you really want to show it
Clap your hands…..

That’s the song we learnt in the school about happiness and clapping. Clapping invariably is associated with happiness. But what actually is clapping? Clapping is the percussive sound made by striking together two flat surfaces, as in the body parts of humans or animals. Humans clap with the palms of their hands. Clapping is also an indication of approval or appreciation or encouragement.When we are happy we clap to express joy and happiness. The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that clapping of hands is one of the best exercises. Clapping for 20 – 30 minutes in the morning keeps you active and energised for the entire day. It is also said that since prehistoric era, the first rhythm instruments were clap hands together. Claps are also used repeatedly or quickly to create rhythm or match beats in music, song and dance. Similarly tapping feet, snapping fingers. In music, clapping is treated as percussion. Music scenario in Hindi cinema has been evolved enormously in the sense of background score, accompanying instruments and the treatment of the songs overall. There have been examples of composers using several non conventional methods to decorate a song. Clapping being certainly one of them.
So this article brings forth list of few such songs where clapping has been used to enhance the percussion. While we are on this topic and before I enlist the songs, there’s one song which needs special attention in this category though I’ve already written a separate article on this song from Darling Darling (1977). Back-slapping was used in the song ‘Raat Gayi Baat Gayi’…..from Darling Darling, as the claps.

Another composer who needs special mention in the article is O P Nayyar. Can you count the number of songs where he has used clapping as percussion? And he engaged those clappings so beautifully in his songs. Here’s one example –

So before I enlist more songs here are some rules –
1. The song shouldn’t be a devotional number (bhajan or Sufi) since clapping is somewhat mandatory in these numbers.
2. It shouldn’t be a qawwali (for obvious reasons again)
3. It shouldn’t be a conventional dance number – like Punjabi (Bhangra/tappa) or Gujrati (Garba)
4. Last but not the least, it shouldn’t be an OPN number!!!

Which songs come to your mind?

1. Jaal (1952) –

2. Dil Deke Dekho (1959) –

3. Sarhad (1960) –

4. Mere Mehboob (1963) –

5. Waqt (1965) –

6. Gumnaam (1965) –

7. Shagird (1967) –

8. Kunwara Baap (1974) –

9. Ye Wada Raha (1982) –

10. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) –

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan


  1. Ajay

    January 24, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Laxmikant-Pyarelal have used clapping as “rhythm” in many songs.
    “Aan Milo Sajana” ( Tital track)
    “Utsav” Neelam Pe Nabh ”
    “Ram Lakhan” O Ramji
    Many more.

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