Rock Perspectives

Converting Those Old Rhythms, Part 1

by David Garibaldi

One of the most basic rhythms in rock. In this study, the focus is on:
(1) How to play a good, swinging shuffle.
(2) A practical application of the shuffle.
The Shuffle rhythm is based on 8th note triplets:Converting Old Rhythms 1Playing the first and third note of each triplet produces the shuffle rhythm:

Converting Old Rhythms 2

Placing an accent on the first note of each triplet gives the shuffle rhythm pulse and motion:

Converting Old Rhythms 3

On the drum set:

Converting Old Rhythms 4Variations of this could include:

Converting Old Rhythms 5

Converting Old Rhythms 6
In example (D) the shuffle rhythm was played with the right hand.

In example (E) the shuffle rhythm was played with the right foot.

In example (F) the shuffle rhythm was played with the right hand and left foot.

Is this dumb? No! It’s foundational. Once you’ve trained your ear to “hear” the consecutive 8th note triplets at various tempos you’ll have no trouble (with practice) executing them evenly. Then while you play the shuffle rhythm and think triplets, the shuffle sound is produced. When your “ear” is trained and you relate that concept to your hands and feet, the thought process (thinking triplets) becomes “second nature.” Then, except for an occasional reminder, thinking triplets is unnecessary. At this point you’re free to coordinate your hands and feet in any way within the context of what the musical situation requires. The primary consideration should always be good, swinging, timekeeping.

Interpreting any 16th note pattern as 24th notes gives the feeling of a shuffle . . . or what I call half-time, shuffle-funk:

Converting Old Rhythms 7

Taken one step further by adding a few more notes:

Converting Old Rhythms 8

We now have the shuffle rhythm with the underlying triplet feel. Now for the free bonus . . . an Afro-Cuban rhythm called “Nanigo. “This fits very well over the shuffle or shuffle-type rhythms:
Converting Old Rhythms 9

Converting Old Rhythms 10

Converting Old Rhythms 11

Applying this to the “half-time” concept, we get:Converting Old Rhythms 12
Converting Old Rhythms 13

*Example (P) has the left hand moving back and forth between the H.H. and S.D. Thanks. See you in Part II!.
Copyright John David Garibaldi, 1981.