Rock and Roll Count Ins
For as long as tempo has mattered, musicians have needed some sort of count in (sometimes called a count off) to begin a piece of music. But whereas in classical music tempo is typically communicated visually and silently by the conductor, rock and roll music has embraced a tradition of audible count-ins, even including them in the final product of a studio recording. Often these serve mainly as a way to get the band starting in unison, but sometimes a count in can heighten the energy and increase the tension for the ensuing climax (my favorite example: Springsteen’s count in before the final verse of “Born to Run”).
There are undoubtedly hundreds of examples to choose from, but below I’ve created an audio montage of twenty-seven verbal count ins, some obvious, some not so obvious. I’m afraid my examples lean heavily toward my white, suburban, middle-class upbringing, but I’d love to hear your favorite count ins. See how many of these you can get, and send your examples to me so I can include them in an extended count in montage sometime down the road.