Elisabeth C. Swim, M.A., OAK to NYC to HTX

Some of my favorite centering songs have 3 beats. What I mean is that their underlying pulse — their heartbeat — is counted 1–2–3. This odd but centering rhythm has a swinging feeling and is used in ballads, meditations and waltzes. “Happy Birthday” is also in 3! What happens when you listen for the 1–2–3 beat in these tunes?

This gospel classic and this grown-up ballad sung by the late and beloved Aretha Franklin