Song: Counting the Beat

Artist: The Swingers

Songwriters: Buster Stiggs, Phil Judd, Bones Hillman

AlbumCounting The Beat

Release date: 1982

Genre: Pop/Rock

Key: D Major

Chords in Key:
















Counting the Beat is written for vocals, guitar, bass and drums. 


The intro begins with a palm muted guitar and natural harmonics at the 12th fret of the guitar. The bass and drums enter next, with the bass playing the pattern it will repeat for most of the song. The guitar has some rhythmic ad libs and features some pick slides, until the vocals come in on the verse and the guitar drops out. Part way through the verse the guitar comes back with syncopated chord stabs as well as backing vocals, singing vocables. These vocables (Doo do do do) come slightly before the beat, which adds more energy to the song. At the end of the verse, the bass guitar sustains a few notes and ends up on the supertonic, which creates a sense of tension which will be released by the chorus, which is brought on with an authentic cadence.


The chorus uses the same chords as the verse, but rearranged so the dominant now goes for two bars, whereas the tonic did before. The chorus also features a mixture chord, a VII. AVII is a fairly common substitution in major scale keys in rock music, so this shouldn’t be considered a modulation.

The song is a good example of dynamics and rhythm building over the length of a song to create a song-long crescendo. For example, the second verse doubles the speed of the syncopated guitar strum. This comes to its zenith in the refrain, where the vocables “la da de da, la da de da” are sung over and over, and grow in volume with unison vocals being layered in as well as lead guitar parts, until the fade out at the end.

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