Basic Blues and Shuffle Rhythms to Get Your Hands Wet

shuffle rhythmSo the raw emotion and throaty howls of the blues have caught your attention? It isn’t surprising. The blues has universal appeal, not only for its famed voices, but also for the bitter truth of each and every piece.

As musicians, the blues are a great tool to help us build our skills. Simplest music in its finest form, the blues are the starting stones for most every musician, whether they move onto rock, jazz, or fall in love and stay true to the blues.

When most musicians get together to jam, the first thing they play is they twelve bar blues. That is no mere coincidence, either. The blues are simple, fun, and have the foundational qualities to be built upon, whether subtly or using great extravagance.

Discussing A Shuffle Rhythm

Being the most basic form of music, the blues has a signature basic drum rhythm, which has been popularized and used in hundreds of songs. This is called the shuffle rhythm. A shuffle rhythm is made out of triplets. For you more experienced players, triplets are very basic. For newcomers wondering what a triplet is, the answer is fairly simple; it is a group of three notes.

Perfect Example Of 8th Note Triplet

Bellow is an example of a simple eighth note triplet made using Guitar Pro 6. Note that each start of the triplet is accented by a side stick snare stroke. This is so that you are better able to get the feel of the triplet and the note values.

blue shuffle rhythm

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When playing the triplet, keep your wrists loose. To count a triplet properly along with a metronome, you use what I cal the triplet method. Starting on the click you say the count of the first beat (1, 2, 3 or 4) and for the adjoining notes you count out trip-let.

For example, the sample triplet is sung: one-trip-let, two-trip-let, three-trip-let, four-trip-let. Try tapping out the rhythm on your knee along with the count.

Now that you understand triplets, we can discuss shuffle rhythms. Shuffle rhythms are triplets made of a note-rest-note pattern. In basic terms, you take the middle note out of each triplet and replace it with a rest. Once more, I accented the start of each shuffle rhythm with a snare drum side stroke to help you get a better feel of the piece and learn basic drumbeats in blues playing.

Just like the triplets, before you approach the shuffle rhythm on your kit, try counting it out. Once you can, clap along.

drums shuffle rhythm

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Notice that the shuffle rhythm has, well, a shuffling feel to it. Such is the basis of many blues songs. The shuffle rhythm lends itself nicely to the overall laid back feel of the blues. Once you get familiar with the pattern, try using different voices.

Trying A Linear Style

Although I broke the rule in the example by adding the snare for teaching purposes, try to maintain a linear approach. Linear drumming simply means you strike one voice at a time.

The blues are a very linear style when it comes to drumming, and although you don’t have to limit yourself, while you are starting off try to keep your approach simple as to not overcomplicate things for yourself. Keep your playing about feel, avoid speeding things up too much, and above all enjoy yourself.

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