Edited by Azizi Powell
For no particular reason, I woke up this morning thinking about the children's handclap game "Concentration 64". I collect children's playground rhymes, so it's not unusual for me to think about that subject. But for some time I've wondered about the significance of the number "64" in that Concentration handclap game.
In case you're unfamilar with this handclap game, here's an example:
CONCENTRATION 64 (Example #1)
I used to play a game called concentration
all the girls played it
it was like this
concentration(clap clap clap)
64(clap clap clap)
no repeat(clap clap clap)
or hesitation(clap clap clap)
I'll go first(clap clap clap)
you go last(clap clap clap)
the category is(clap clap clap)
______________ (fill it in your self.)
you slapped each others hands while you were saying the words and after the category name the person had to say something in that category without repeating what someone had already said or hesitating or they were out.
-Guest, just visiting ,Origins: Concentration (kids' game); http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=85915 ; 11/11/2011 (hereafter given as "Mudcat: Concentration game")
For the record, "Concentration 64" isn't only a "girl's game", though it does appear that, like other handclap, it is mostly played by females. Judging from the examples posted on YouTube and on various other internet sites, including my website http://cocojams.com/,versions of "Concentration 64" are played in various nations throughout the world. Also judging from YouTube videos & websites of children's rhymes, "Concentration 64" is the most commonly used name for that handclap game in the United States. But that game has other names in the USA such as "Concentration", "Hands Up To (or "Hands For") 85", "Hands Up To One Eighty Five", and "Hands Down Vanilla Five". I've also collected an example which starts with the line "Nintendo 64" ("Nintendo" being the brand name of a very popular video game in the 1980s). An example with that name is found below.
In addition to it being a fun to play, "Concentration" helps children develop and reinforce memory skills, language development, and coordination. That mildly competitive hand game also helps children learn how to be team players. And it's not just kids who play it.
WHAT THE NAME "CONCENTRATION 64" MEANS
Contrary to some folks who "study" children's rhymes, chants & singing game songs and who are satisfied with the belief that most of the words in those rhymes don't have to mean anything, I think that children often want the rhymes that they recite or sing to make sense.
Here are two possible theories for the line "concentration 64".
Prefacing note about these theories:
I think that theory #1 explains the word "concentration" and may explain why there is a number in that game title, even if it doesn't explain why the number is "64". Theory #2 may also explain the use of a number in that game title, even if it doesn't quite explain why that number is "64". It's possible that both of these theories or neither of these theories are the source of the name "Concentration 64" and/or similar phrases.
Theory #1: A Card Game
The title of the children's playground hand game "Concentration 64" came from the deck of cards game "Concentration".
"Concentration, also known as Memory, Pelmanism, Shinkei-suijaku, Pexeso or simply Pairs, is a card game in which all of the cards are laid face down on a surface and two cards are flipped face up over each turn. The object of the game is to turn over pairs of matching cards. Concentration can be played with any number of players or as solitaire and is an especially good game for young children, though adults may find it challenging and stimulating as well. The scheme is often used in quiz shows and can be employed as an educational game...
Any deck of playing cards may be used, although there are special cards available, as shown in the picture above. The rules given here are for a standard deck of 52 cards, which are normally laid face down in 4 rows of 13 cards each. The two jokers may be included for a tableau of 6 rows of 9 cards each.
In turn each player chooses two cards and turns them face up. If they are of the same rank and color (e.g. 6 of hearts and 6 of diamonds, queen of clubs and queen of spades, or both jokers, if used) then that player wins the pair and plays again. If they are not of the same rank and color, they are turned face down again and play passes to the player on the left. The game ends when the last pair has been picked up. The winner is the person with the most pairs, and there may be a tie for first place."
Even if the source of the word "concentration" is the card game "Concentration", I believe that word also refers to what people playing this game are doing and what people playing that game need to have in order to play the game well. Having good concentration is the essence of this game. That's why the second line that is recited is usually "no repeats and no hesitations". That line sets up the rules to the game. Players can't repeat what has already been said and can't hesitate. They must say something in that particular category without hesitating. The prohibition against hesitating in this handclap game may also be because the players must remain "on beat". If a player repeats or hesitates than she (or he) is out of the game. The last person in the game is the winner.
Theory #2: Walkie Talkie or Ham Radio Jargon
The only walkie-talkie jargon I know is "10-4" which I think means "okay" or "I'm finish talking". However, I'm not sure if "64" means anything in walkie talkie jargon or ham radio jargon. If those numbers aren't from walkie talkie or ham radio cultures, it's possible that children may have thought that "64" meant the same as "10-4".
But, I'm very leery of the theory that the original name used for this game was "Concentration 10-4" and children changed that name to "Concentration 64". If that were so, you would think that a few people would still be using that old name. However, I've never heard or read of anyone saying "Concentration 10-4".
Click http://wiki.answers.com/Q/When_was_the_first_walkie_talkie_invented for information about hand-held portable, bi-directional radio transceivers called "walkie talkies".
"PROBABLE" EXAMPLES OF FOLK ETYMOLOGY IN THIS GAME
The earliest phrase that was used in these handclap games probable was "Concentration 64". But because of folk etymology, children (and people of other ages) playing this game started using referring to this game as "Concentration One Eighty Five", or "Hands Down Vanilla Five", or "Nintendo 64" or other similar names instead of the name "Concentration 64".
"Folk etymology" occurs when a person mishears or misremembers a word or words of a spoken or written composition. "Folk etymology" also occurs when a person repeats and passes on to others a word or that was "folk etymologized". Some "folk etymology words can be localized or personalized(substituting a local place name or another person's name for a word or words even if they don't sound the same.) Or a word or word can be updated. "Nintendo 64" is an example of this. "Nintendo" is a brand name of popular (or once popular) video game.
ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES OF CONCENTRATION 64
Here are a few more examples of this rhyme.
(Example #1 is posted above. These examples are given in no particular order.)
HANDS DOWN VANILLA FIVE (Concentration handclap game, Example #2)
How about this: remember this game that was played, usually with five or more people, and you have to name a certain number of things that was related to a particular subject? The chant went something like this:
Hands down vanilla five (Clap Clap)
Gonna get (Clap Clap)
One a-piece (Clap Clap)
To no a-piece (Clap Clap)
No Hesitation...(Clap Clap)
No Demonstration (Clap Clap)
Subject (Clap Clap)
Names of (Clap Clap) (enter subject name here)" Usually, the subject name was boys, or cars, or teachers....and after each round, the number of things you had to name went up....that used to be my FAVORITE GAME!! lol"
-PrettyPetite (African American woman; Atlanta, Georgia by way of Miami, Florida; http://www.greekchat.com/gcforums/showthread.php?t=4123&page=3; 12/29/2000
NINTENDO 64 (Concentration handclap game, Example #3)
no repeats or hesitations
starting with the name of... (anything usually colors, boys, girls, cars, toys, tv shows, movies, etc) they keep up the hand beat and shouting names to someone messes up whoever is left at the end is the winner.
-Guest KLC, (East Harlem, New York, New York, http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=63097 ; Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?; July 11, 2008
HANDS UP FOR ONE EIGHTY-FIVE (Concentration handclap game, Example #4)
Hands up for one eighty-five (clap-clap)
It's gonna be (clap-clap)
A big surprise (clap-clap)
No repeats (clap-clap)
No hesitations (clap-clap)
No demonstrations (clap-clap)
Starting with (clap-clap)
(colors, girls, boys, etc...) (clap-clap)... repeat names until someone loses.
The first person to repeat, hesitate, or demonstrate any word lost the game.
Multiple people stood in a circle and clapped hands with kids to the right and left of them. If only 2 people, they faced each other.
I now play this game with my kids. They love it!
-Guest, Melissa; "Mudcat: Concentration game"; 6/2/2010
CONCENTRATION 64 (Concentration handclap game, Example #5)
This is the concentration game I use to play when I was a kid...
1)One person chants concentration 64...no repeats or hesitations...i'll start by naming names
2)And then the person who was chanting names a name
3) Then this process continuing to alternate until someone hesitates or can"t name a name. A name can not be repeated.
NOTE: The beat that continues is like 2 double low fives (like in the game of slaps) and then 3 fast claps. This process continues until the end of the game.
-Guest, blank; "Mudcat: Concentration game"; Origins: Concentration (kids' game); 6/24/2010
ZING ZING ZING (Concentration handclap game, Example #6)
Zing-zing-zing, and away we go
To the Jackie Gleason studio.*
Foods: "Ham." "Turkey." "Eggs." "Cheeseburger." "Bacon," "Sausage." "Hot dog." "Watermelon." "What?" "Watermelon." "Toast."
"Hamburger." "I said hamburger." "No you didn't," ALL: "Yes she did. You out!"
Cars: "Mustang. ""Pinto." "What!? What you all naming? Oh." "Mustang II." "Firebird." "Mercury." "Cutlass Supreme." "Cadillac."
"Mustang." "Supreme II." "Cutlass S." "Um ...F'irebird." "You out!"
-Washington, D.C., schoolgirls, vocals.
Old Mother Hippletoe: Rural and Urban Children's Songs (Recorded in 1976 at the Smithsonian Institution Festival of American Folklife, Washington, D.C.; New World NW 29); http://www.newworldrecords.org/linernotes/80291.pdf
This is the earliest version of a Concentration handclap rhyme that I've collected (which doesn't mean that it's the earliest version).
Note that this example doesn't include the word "Concentration". Nor does it include the number "64" or any other number.
The lines "Zing Zing Zing and away we go/To the Jackie Gleason studio/Calaree! Calarah!" serve as an introduction to this rhyme. The "no repeats or hesitation or demonstration" line states the rules for playing this particular handclap game. The actual game begins with the "name of ___" phrase.
"Zing zing zing" is used as an introductory phrase for a number of other African American playground rhymes. For instance, that phrase is part of one possible introduction to the widely known "Tweeleelee" ("Rockin Robin") handclap rhyme:
"Zing zing zing
Like a washin machine
All the little birdies on jaybird street
Love to hear the robin sing
Tweet tweet tweet
*Here's some information about "Jackie Gleason":
"The Jackie Gleason Show is the name of a series of popular American network television shows that starred Jackie Gleason, which ran from 1952 to 1970."
The reference to "The Jackie Gleason Show" may be explained by those schoolgirls learning that rhyme from older siblings who may have actually watched that television show. Or those schoolgirls could have watched reruns of that show. This example and other examples of "Concentration" demonstrate how culture is often captured in children's playground rhymes. For example, children, teens, or adults playing that same game in 2011 may still choose "names of cars" as a category. And those playing that game would still have to concentrate to make sure that they didn't repeat what was previously said. Also, when it was their turn to call out a name of a car, those players still would have to do so "on beat" with "no hesitation". However, in 2011 the names of cars would be very different than those names given in 1976.
Here are two video examples of "Concentration 64" rhymes:
Video #1: Concentration 64
uploaded by sbgal8; July 14, 2007
Video #2: Concentration 64
Uploaded by tianshiangel on Feb 12, 2008
Editor's Note: At the end of this video one of the player's asked about the meaning of the number "64". The girl who was doing the chanting answered that it just rhymed. However, "64" doesn't rhyme with the word "concentration" or anything else that was said in that rhyme.
Also, here's a video from Haiti of school girls playing a handclap game. I'm not sure what the girls are saying but the game has the same beat as "Concentration" and it appears that the game is played the same way.
Haitian Children playing in Santos Schoolyard
Uploaded by steveappleg8 on Jul 26, 2010
MVI 3758, recorded July 21 2010. Mission trip to Port au Prince Haiti, St. Andrew Baptist Church.
Notice that the publisher of this video indicates that the video was taken during a mission trip to Haiti. It's likely that this is an example of a game that Americans (or people from another nation) taught children from the nation that they were visiting. That is one way that games become known throughout the world.
However, notice how the girls put their hands on their hips after they clap their hands. I've not seen that style of playing Concentration in the USA.
Click this link for more video examples of Concentration 64:
For more more text examples & videos of this handclap game, click this page of my Cocojams website http://www.cocojams.com/content/handclap-jump-rope-and-elastics-rhymes.
Examples of "Tweeleelee" ("Rockin Robin") are posted on this page of my Cocojams website http://cocojams.com/content/handclap-jump-rope-and-elastics-rhymes-2.
Click http://zumalayah.blogspot.com/2013/04/classic-sesame-street-television-clips.html "Sesame Street Hand Clap Rhymes & Children's Stepping Routines" for other examples of children's hand clap games.
NOTE: There's another handclap game called "Concentration" (children are dying), but's that not the game I'm talking about. For examples of that game, click the Mudcat: Concentration game link that was previously given.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
Thanks to all those who contributed rhyme examples to this post. Thanks also to the video uploaders.
Thanks for visiting pancocojams.
Visitor comments are welcome!