Build Your Groove with Shuffle Beats
Learning how to play shuffle beats on the drum set can be one of the best ways to improve your feel and groove as a drummer. The feel of any shuffle beat is very relaxed and groovy, almost lagging behind the song. By learning the shuffle, you also increase your independence with your sticks, allowing you to play jazz and Latin beats a lot easier. There are many different shuffle beats you can play; like the double shuffle, sixteenth note shuffle, eighth note shuffle, and the Texas shuffle. So take the time in developing this very unique groove!
The shuffle groove is based around triplets, usually played on the ride cymbal or hi hats. This is where the whole groove gets its swinging feel. When done right, it will sound similar to a gallop. So let’s start by developing that triplet “galloping” groove with your dominant hand. Before you go on, I should mention it is best to practice this on a practice pad first, this way you will not be distracted with your other voices.
Before you start swinging away, make sure you count this pattern out loud first. Counting your beats out before you dive into them is a good way to confirm you are getting them right! This is counted in triplets obviously, so start by counting out triplets. If you are unsure of the best way to do this, check out this article on learning how to count. I will show you how to count this beat out; the beats you do not play are the ones in brackets.
ONE (trip) LET TWO (trip) LET THREE (trip) LET FOUR (trip) LET
Notice how you leave the (trip) out of each set. This is what gives you that groove. Now play this beat on your practice pad with your dominant hand. Eventually, you will want to get to the speed where the pattern sounds like a gallop with double strokes with your stick. Once you have mastered this with your practice pad, move onto your hi hats on your drum kit. The shuffle pattern looks like this on paper:
Now with this groove going on, all you need to do is add you bass drum and snare. Do this on the ONE and THREE of the shuffle beat. Take your time, and make sure you do not lose focus of your hi hat beat. This is the Half Time Shuffle Groove. It is easier to develop the half time groove first then move on to the regular shuffle. Try this:
Once you have the idea of the shuffle, you will see how powerful it actually is. Try this 2 bar beat out; it is more of an advanced groove. Count it out before, as you will see the second bar has a note that is not followed by your hi hats. Try this:
That is the basic shuffle groove for you! To spice things up a bit, add a few cymbals in here and there. Also, change up your hi hats to your ride cymbal. The shuffle groove is played mostly in blues music, so pop in some blues and start grooving!
By: Dave Atkinson
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