Foot ball isn’t the only thing that has a half time. In fact, the blues have taken the term half time and created something not quite so half-ish. The half time shuffle blues are a great way to bring your playing to the next level.
So what exactly are half times? Half time simply means that a bar is doubles. If you play a 4/4 shuffle continuing through two bars, it becomes a half time of 8/8.
So does that mean every 8/8 becomes a 16/16?
Half times basically doubles the tempo and key signature of a basic rhythmic pattern. They don’t keep stacking one atop another. The division of the beats are altered to fit a 4/4 time signature so that they extend into the next measure, thus incomplete until the next bar ends.
The first step to learning half time shuffle blues, as you may be able to already guess, is to observe some of your favorite players. Go online and search half time shuffle blues. Watch the videos that come up, as they will give you better comprehension of the feel of the half time shuffle blues.
If you don’t already know how to sight read, or at least read sheet music, then you should learn. Sight reading is very important for these lessons, as you need to be able to read what you are going to play, because let’s face it; you can’t always remember every note just by hearing it.
Now that you have observed some half time shuffles being played, the next step is to learn your own. When playing the following example be sure to stay relaxed. Start off slowly, using a metronome to keep your rhythm steady and constant. Be careful how much power you use, as the blues do not focus on heavy accents or sheer brute force. Keep the feeling in your playing as well as in your hands.
This is a basic example, and in fact the most common half time blues shuffle used today.
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Pay close attention to the accents. While they aren’t delivered with ear splitting power, they are meant to be heard. Notice the altered shuffle feel, the accompaniment notes stretched out throughout the piece so that once measure can’t quite cover a full shuffle. This is how half time is created.
Also note that in this example, the hi-hat is played halfway. Traditionally, most drummers play the shuffle with the hi-hate closed. I personally feel it sounds a bit janglier with the hi-hat half open, giving the note time to ring out just a bit before ending. When playing, let the harmonious notes fall on the click. This will help you to obtain a better rhythm.
As with all of the examples we give, feel free to add your own flavor, as I myself did this time around. The only way you will properly learn the blues half time shuffle is to spend hours practicing. Each day set aside a block of time for practice. It will not only make a world of difference in your playing, but it will help you develop good muscle memory as well. Have fun, and keep and open mind!
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