Shuffles

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
My apologies for sounding ignorant, but the below thread on "Old Schoold Blues Drumming" raised a question in my head.

I've played country and blues shuffles and there is a difference. What are the major shuffles out there? I've heard Chicago blues and Mississippi Delta blues, plus Texas Blues and they are totally different depending on how the band is playing, which brings up different styles of shuffles. Plus Nashville country shuffles as opposed to Texas country shuffles. And Jazz shuffles. A lot of times it's how layed back the song characteristics are I'm assuming, or at least what I've witnessed. And I've noticed there can be huge differences in how the band is playing and what the bass player is doing, which brings up the drumming "modified shuffles", "cross between one shuffle type and another", etc.

I guess what I'm asking is there seems to be as many shuffles as there are genres of music and how a particular song is played by a particualar band, in a particular region of the country?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Shuffles are like dialects, same words, but different pronunciation, different delivery. It's still triplet based, dotted 8th feel. That's the great thing about music, the same notes can be played with infinite(?) variations in attitude and feel.
 
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Doctor Dirt

Guest
Yeah what LarryAce said........................go back and listen to the Cab Calloway Band jazz/swing, then go to the Bob Willis Band country/swing, jump off at the great Count Bassie Band (known as the "king of swing) step down in size to the Louis Jordan Tip 5 jazz/blues/swing Shuffles are the only common denominator here the instrumentation changes as the feel do......or does HA! Eccentuating the shuffle on the Hi Hat/on the snare/and/or both at the same time. Then the kick mark, pullin back slightly not to audiable 1 n 3 a few nicely placed quarters, or just goin wide open in 4 and documenting chord changes with quarters on the kick and/or double double on the kick and/or snare.
Last night I went to see an old timer who been playin Blues for many years who goes by "Guitar Shorty" he had a young Blues drummer that layed down some fat back pocket with beautifully placed crash cymbal work on a great sounding thin Zil. and used his Hi Hats in concert with the crash work. A real Blues drummer is great to see in my opinion to on another thread there was mention of some welknown drummers who were refered to as Blues players. Their not, they can play Blues but its like it was written for them and their reading it. If its not from the heart and the drummer ain't smilin or laughin its NOT a Blues Drummer. I had fun laughing right with him, oh hey Shorty tore that place up!! Bamboo Room, west palm fl. nice place too. Doc
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
Last night I went to see an old timer who been playin Blues for many years who goes by "Guitar Shorty" he had a young Blues drummer that layed down some fat back pocket with beautifully placed crash cymbal work on a great sounding thin Zil. and used his Hi Hats in concert with the crash work. A real Blues drummer is great to see in my opinion to on another thread there was mention of some welknown drummers who were refered to as Blues players. Their not, they can play Blues but its like it was written for them and their reading it. If its not from the heart and the drummer ain't smilin or laughin its NOT a Blues Drummer. I had fun laughing right with him, oh hey Shorty tore that place up!! Bamboo Room, west palm fl. nice place too. Doc
I saw Guitar Shorty in San Francisco a few years back. Good good Blues player. I don't know if he still has the same drummer, but at that time his drummer was the band leader. Guitar Shorty would have them come out and jam for about 20 minutes and the drummer would warm up the crowd for Shorty. Then Shorty would come up to the stage from the FOH and walk all over the place and tear it up. Good stuff.

Son Seals is another Blues player that always has a great band with solid players.

I used to live in PBC and I just heard that they reopened the Bamboo Room. Nice venue. Not a bad seat in the house. I saw Hadden Sayers there a few years ago.

Larry has it right comparing shuffles to dialects in the same language. Good Blues players, especially drummers, always bring something original to the music that, with the Blues, comes from the heart.
 
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Doctor Dirt

Guest
When your rollin on good and the moneys right you bring the good guys out but when things are tight you bring out the young guys that don't make as much hahahaha!!! Thats the way it is, and has always been that way if your not a big national name that demands the dough. Shorty had a young guy on guitar and an older bassman that I think has been with him for some time. The drummer was "solid" the dynamics were tight and he was driven' the band nicely. Some crazy looking n' acting guy (I think) on keys Moon Glow??? the dude was weird to say the least and ofcourse Shorty doin jams to long but what the hell all the veteran guys get a little pass for that. Hes a gentleman. Bamboo wasn't packed and I think their hurting again, this market is killing all the van touring guys and killing the rooms who want the good regional to national acts that have to buy gas! Its a shame but were gonna loose a few before it gets better. If I were healthy right now I wouldn't be out there its just not worth it any more. My pocket book is strong although my heart says go my mind says "Slow"!! hahaha!!! Doc
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I've been playing rock n roll for all these years and I finally got myself involved in a blues project. Blues has always been a favorite genre of mine and it has taken me about 25 years worth of playing until I finally developed a good shuffle. Actually, I feel like I'm just scratching the surface. It truly is an awesome beat that can take a lifetime to master because applying the right sounding shuffle for the particular song being played comes from the heart and soul. Blues is a feeling and a soulful sound with subtle nuances. I have to also do the singing in this blues project so it has changed my approach to certain songs. I can't do everything I'd like to in the song because I'm too busy singing, but the singing really helps me to not overplay the song too much on the drums and put the fills where they belong.
 

Caz

Senior Member
Hey, I'm hoping to resurrect this thread :)

Does anyone know of a comprehensive list where we can learn more about the different blues shuffles? I vaguely know what to play for a Texas or Chicago shuffle, but today got asked to play a Flat-tyre shuffle, which I've heard of before but have no idea what it is... it's time to get these together, does anyone know where we can look?

Here's a useful youtube video if anyone else is looking, but I'm hoping for a bit more detail:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoXV643eqCA

Thanks,
Caroline
 

brady

Platinum Member
Hey, I'm hoping to resurrect this thread :)

Does anyone know of a comprehensive list where we can learn more about the different blues shuffles? I vaguely know what to play for a Texas or Chicago shuffle, but today got asked to play a Flat-tyre shuffle, which I've heard of before but have no idea what it is... it's time to get these together, does anyone know where we can look?

Here's a useful youtube video if anyone else is looking, but I'm hoping for a bit more detail:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoXV643eqCA

Thanks,
Caroline
Hey Caz,

For good flat tire shuffles, check out Sonny Freeman with BB King. "Everyday I Have The Blues" is a great one. Basically, your left hand is playing all the "lets" of the beat. You can shuffle or just play quarters on the ride.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSZuwTZaTjk
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Here is a question:

OK, so we learn how to play all these variations of shuffles.

Which one do you pick and why?

As Larry said, as it's basis, the bass and rhythm guitar are playing the same shuffled triplet feel, regardless of how the drummer voices the bass/snare/cymbal. On a pure mathematical basis, any shuffle beat will work. As in the video posted, the drummer goes through 19 shuffles, but the music doesn't change. All the variations technically work.

Most of the time I've done blues gigs, the other musicians don't seem to want much more than basic shuffle, but that perhaps says more about their abilities than anything (and most of my playing has been in original bands where shuffles tend to be near non-existent).

So, how do you usually tell what shuffle variation is the one to play in a given situation?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
So, how do you usually tell what shuffle variation is the one to play in a given situation?
Good question Ian. The short answer is you adapt within the first bar lol. If you don't know what's coming, like in a jam situation or a sit in situation...for me it's a quick study of the tempo, the tempo will narrow it down. The faster it is, the less busy I play it. If it's really fast, sometimes I'm not even shuffling, just doing quarters and halves.. If I recognize the song right away it helps. I'll subtly change if I don't get it right at first. But really it comes down to the tempo, and instinct. How do you get instinct? By failing weekly at open mic blues jams...for a few years lol. Playing with superior blues players helps. A good rule of thumb is if you aren't sure what's coming, just play it simple until you feel it how it wants to be, and adjust if necessary. It's better to start simple and build from there than the reverse.

There are a lot of standards that are recognizable. Truth is any variation will work, but there usually is a "best" choice for a song. Like even though I could, I probably wouldn't put a flat tire variation to a normal rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago" for instance. More important than choice of variation, is making the shuffle feel like a shuffle is supposed to feel. Forward progress/relentless (but not rushed) time feel....and a little "lift" on 2 and 4..... are 2 guidelines I follow. I also stay away from standard hand to hand tom fills on shuffles. They seem to throw water on the fire. Forget any rock fills, instead, embrace unison multi limb build ups, press and double stroke rolls, dynamic volume drop downs, cymbal swells, and especially reinforcing the existing structure of the song. The hi hat is king, generally speaking. There's always exceptions. It's more staccato attack drives the song better.

Another rule of thumb I follow is..... The shuffle rhythm cannot drop out. (stops excepted). It must be relentless. Also inner kit dynamics go far in how a shuffle feels. Like when the shuffling hand is really loud and the backbeat and the bass drum are lacking in ooomph....that's not a refined sounding shuffle. Also, like anything, a drummer who is confident playing shuffles and familiar with the variations will come off better than someone who hasn't put their time in/or doesn't love the shuffle. The shuffle can always be felt deeper. Shuffles are prime ghost note songs. Really great ghost notes/inner kit dynamics/great tempo/meter feel/and a real love for the shuffle beats... separate the great shuffle player from the average shuffle player.

Sorry for all the extra info. This is one topic I feel qualified to babble about.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
This is one topic I feel qualified to babble about.
Highly qualified to babble about IMO. Larry, I wish you were just down the road, because I'd annoy you until you agreed to give me lessons. I'd love to get my shuffle head on, but I've never really started the journey, & it's all a bit daunting to me. My left hand technique sucks more than a hooker with knee pads. It's a whole 'nuther world, & one day, I'll find the time to take that first step.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Thanks Andy. I think the prerequisite is you have to really love the blues form, pentatonic blues scales (sorry Dunc) and particularly the shuffle rhythm itself.

Blues can be dead boring unless there is real love there. You can't teach love, it's there or it's not.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I'm no larryace, but I was really pleased when some guys I play with told me that they loved the feel of my shuffle(s). In fact, I dare say I walked around with big head the rest of the day.

Ain't nothin' like a good shuffle.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Thanks Andy. I think the prerequisite is you have to really love the blues form, pentatonic blues scales (sorry Dunc) and particularly the shuffle rhythm itself.

Blues can be dead boring unless there is real love there. You can't teach love, it's there or it's not.
I'm coming from a direction of shuffles used in all manner of genres though Larry, not just blues. If I got my shuffle game together, I may end up using them for the occasional blues track, but I can see myself applying them to many other areas, especially rock. Surely a love for the groove feel is sufficient?

I'm no larryace, but I was really pleased when some guys I play with told me that they loved the feel of my shuffle(s). In fact, I dare say I walked around with big head the rest of the day.
Nice to get a compliment Larry. Doesn't come my way unsolicited very often :(
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm coming from a direction of shuffles used in all manner of genres though Larry, not just blues. If I got my shuffle game together, I may end up using them for the occasional blues track, but I can see myself applying them to many other areas, especially rock. Surely a love for the groove feel is sufficient?
A love for groove will take a drummer far in my little world. I guess I put blues shuffles in a different category than other genre's shuffles. A song like Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" or "Smokin in the Boys Room" while definitely shuffles.... they don't hit the same spot in me that a well played blues double shuffle does. Rock shuffles have less nuance and aren't haunted like the blues shuffle lol. They are far easier to grasp IMO. Not saying I want to hear the 2 songs I mentioned any other way, they work fine as is, as a rock shuffle.

Off topic, GEICO has a new commercial out and they do a song called "The something Shuffle" (I forget what the something word is). The only problem is it's a straight time hip hop number, nothing is shuffling. You would think someone would catch that.
 

SpareRib

Senior Member
I love shuffles! My favorites are the Purdie shuffle, Rosanna, Fool in the Rain and the Texas shuffle. I love ALL shuffles and practice some type of shuffle almost every time I practice.

Right now I'm playing with a guitarist who has three original rock/metal fast shuffled tunes and I play a very simplified form of the Rosanna shuffle on one tune and the others switch between shuffle and straight time so I play those a little more straight so the transitions are smooth.

I think I need to find a blues jam night and sit in to sharpen my shuffles a little.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Sorry for all the extra info. This is one topic I feel qualified to babble about.
Please, babble away!

Thanks for the reply.

I had drum teachers that really pushed me to learn all the shuffle variations. And I did a lot of shuffle gigs in my early/mid 20's. But when I moved to LA, none of the bands I played in ever wrote shuffles. So it just got away from me over the years. A little while back, I made an effort to get back into shuffles but the playing situations were mostly with guys who were just getting back into playing guitar after not touching one for 20 years, so we never got that deep.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
My latest favorite shuffle is "Paper Doll" by John Mayer.

I learned long ago that different musicians usually mean different things when they call for a 'shuffle'...
 
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