Shuffle

Squirrel Man

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So for a week or a little more I've been working on a shuffle. A lot of things are beginner for me even though I've been playing for (off and on) decades, my goal is to be better than where I was and I work on rudiments and accents, snare/hats only thing.

Purdie shuffle, the part I thought I'd have a hard time with is the hats but after a couple hours and a couple sessions no problem. Even got it grooving, doesn't sound mechanical. Kick, no biggie and I can play it without the ghost notes but that sounds like what it sounds like. I can't get those ghost notes and I know it's a mental thing for me, once I get it it will all come together.

I broke it down and just did parts of it, hats, snare. I can get 1/4 of those notes in rhythm and I thought that was the breakthrough after a few hours working at it but I hit a wall. And I know the likely answer is to keep at it, step away for a while and pick it up later but I'm wondering if there are any pointers the pros here could give me that might help. These ghost notes are like off back-beats sort of and my brain is having a rough go with that pattern.

Should I be starting with something simpler maybe?

Thanks for your input.
 

Rock Salad

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I been working on mine for a couple of years and it's not ready yet either. For me the hats are hardest.

Have you tried writing it out?
 

Squirrel Man

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I can minimally read drum music but my brain is wired that I have to do it to get it. My wife reads the directions and I put whatever it is together. It's a weakness but I accepted it a long time ago.

So I know the pattern, every beat. It's the hand/brain thing I'm missing, I just can't get that ghost note part. Sat there for a couple hours just now just doing the hat and ghost beats and I'm actually starting to get that part. It sounds mechanical but it's progress and I'll take it.

I do that and I throw two 16th notes on the kick and I can handle that. No quarter note on the snare, the ghosts are back beats and that's the next level for me to get. And the shuffle is two 16th notes on the kick followed by a quarter note. I can do the two notes, hats and ghosts but if I just do a quarter bass note I struggle a bit for some reason. Take out the ghost notes and I nailed it, groove and all but it's not a shuffle, just a cool sounding beat.
 

dcrigger

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I can minimally read drum music but my brain is wired that I have to do it to get it. My wife reads the directions and I put whatever it is together. It's a weakness but I accepted it a long time ago.
I'd be careful with this whole line of thought - as it so often is just a big rationalization to excuse stuffing off our brain.

My point is - I too will often not read the directions and just opt for jumping in and putting something together. But how does that work? Well it works when I'm able to "figure it out" without the need for directions. And when it doesn't I have two choice - turn to the directions _or_ work harder on figuring it out. Because it ain't going to put itself together by itself. one way or another I have to know how it goes together.

So it's not working - so up to you... take a few moments and dig into the notation - meaning counting and going really really really s l o w. Or figure it out some other way.... (hints) a shuffle is almost always based entirely on 1/8th triplets (there are no 16th's - hardly ever)... or three sub-beats per beat. Meaning in 4/4 - we've got 12 slots that notes can be placed.... 1 ti ta 2 ti ta 3 ti ta 4 ti ta OR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Take a piece of graph paper and number out 12 boxes left to right - then under that row, put X's in every box where the HH plays (probably 1 3 4 6 7 9 10 & 12) then go down a row and do the same with the snare - then another row for the bass. Then slowly while counting 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 - work through put them all together. (I mean really slow)

Then when you have that down pat - gradually work on speeding it up - soon you'll be able to play it up to tempo.

To a great degree - whether you figure it out or read or follow some directions - the process for learning how to play something never changes... it is always - figure it out - slow it down - master that, then speed it up. When it comes to learning to play something that I don't already have the euro/muscular coordination to play, reading only helps me with the "figure it out" part - the rest of the process remains the same - for basically everyone.

Hope that helps...

David

So I know the pattern, every beat. It's the hand/brain thing I'm missing, I just can't get that ghost note part. Sat there for a couple hours just now just doing the hat and ghost beats and I'm actually starting to get that part. It sounds mechanical but it's progress and I'll take it.

I do that and I throw two 16th notes on the kick and I can handle that. No quarter note on the snare, the ghosts are back beats and that's the next level for me to get. And the shuffle is two 16th notes on the kick followed by a quarter note. I can do the two notes, hats and ghosts but if I just do a quarter bass note I struggle a bit for some reason. Take out the ghost notes and I nailed it, groove and all but it's not a shuffle, just a cool sounding beat.
 

Hop

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Check out some of the info in this thread...

This thread also has the image(s) of the BG 'Language of Drumming', but is a larger file size...
 

Squirrel Man

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I'd be careful with this whole line of thought - as it so often is just a big rationalization to excuse stuffing off our brain.

My point is - I too will often not read the directions and just opt for jumping in and putting something together. But how does that work? Well it works when I'm able to "figure it out" without the need for directions. And when it doesn't I have two choice - turn to the directions _or_ work harder on figuring it out. Because it ain't going to put itself together by itself. one way or another I have to know how it goes together.

So it's not working - so up to you... take a few moments and dig into the notation - meaning counting and going really really really s l o w. Or figure it out some other way.... (hints) a shuffle is almost always based entirely on 1/8th triplets (there are no 16th's - hardly ever)... or three sub-beats per beat. Meaning in 4/4 - we've got 12 slots that notes can be placed.... 1 ti ta 2 ti ta 3 ti ta 4 ti ta OR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Take a piece of graph paper and number out 12 boxes left to right - then under that row, put X's in every box where the HH plays (probably 1 3 4 6 7 9 10 & 12) then go down a row and do the same with the snare - then another row for the bass. Then slowly while counting 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 - work through put them all together. (I mean really slow)

Then when you have that down pat - gradually work on speeding it up - soon you'll be able to play it up to tempo.

To a great degree - whether you figure it out or read or follow some directions - the process for learning how to play something never changes... it is always - figure it out - slow it down - master that, then speed it up. When it comes to learning to play something that I don't already have the euro/muscular coordination to play, reading only helps me with the "figure it out" part - the rest of the process remains the same - for basically everyone.

Hope that helps...

David
I get that, I don't gravitate to shortcuts and excuse stuffing like you stated. I used to, I tend to lean toward trying stuff I don't feel like doing or have a hard time with, that's what I need to learn. I will gradually read music better I think, I've picked up a few things lately along the way. It's a long haul, can't do it all at once and I'm patient.

Maybe a little less with this project, I guess I expected to grasp it quicker. That didn't happen so I've been doing pretty much what you suggested, slowing it way down and trying to get that off hit in here and there, like starting an engine. It's kinda working, I just need to be more patient and diligent.

Your advice is well received, thank you.
 

Squirrel Man

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I appreciate all the tips and feedback too and I look into every suggestion.

So I recorded a little clip, just sat the phone on my floor tom so you don't get to see my handsome face. ;) And I've been farting around with this for 3 or 4 hours in between household chores and moving drums around to fit a desk in so it's not crisp and peppy so bear with me.

First part is the basic shuffle without the back beats just to show I kinda have that part down. Then I go to hats and back beats and it sounds like crap but I think basically what I'm trying to do, then off back beats to try to find where I'm supposed to be hitting - what I'm struggling with. Then back to the basic groove without back beats, short clip.

Totally appreciate the feedback and tips.

 

Rock Salad

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Well on it's way. The parts sound good, I could play bass to that.
In fact that could be the ticket right there. Sometimes it just takes playing it with another decent musician for everything to fall in to place.
 

Matched Gripper

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So for a week or a little more I've been working on a shuffle. A lot of things are beginner for me even though I've been playing for (off and on) decades, my goal is to be better than where I was and I work on rudiments and accents, snare/hats only thing.

Purdie shuffle, the part I thought I'd have a hard time with is the hats but after a couple hours and a couple sessions no problem. Even got it grooving, doesn't sound mechanical. Kick, no biggie and I can play it without the ghost notes but that sounds like what it sounds like. I can't get those ghost notes and I know it's a mental thing for me, once I get it it will all come together.

I broke it down and just did parts of it, hats, snare. I can get 1/4 of those notes in rhythm and I thought that was the breakthrough after a few hours working at it but I hit a wall. And I know the likely answer is to keep at it, step away for a while and pick it up later but I'm wondering if there are any pointers the pros here could give me that might help. These ghost notes are like off back-beats sort of and my brain is having a rough go with that pattern.

Should I be starting with something simpler maybe?

Thanks for your input.
A ghost note is just a softly played note. A tap. It helps to start with the stick very low - close to the drumhead, about 1-2 inches.

A shuffle is usually playing the first and third notes of a triplet on hihat or ride cymbal. In the case of the Purdie shuffle, the ghost notes are played in between the high hat shuffle notes - the second note of the triplet.

This is from a Modern Drummer article showing the Purdie shuffle written out. The Porcaro and Bonham shuffles are also explained.

1598803704995.jpeg

Here is a link to the whole article:


PS: After you master this, then we can talk about Bonham’s quarter note triplets on the ride bell. One of the baddest grooves of all time.
 
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Squirrel Man

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So I made a little progress today, went to work for a while and came home, felt energized for some reason and took that out on the kit. Had a nice session, a lot of the little things I'm working on are filling in like not playing so tense and hard and knowing or feeling what I want to do next and not juft flubbing a fill. Felt good.

But anyway, getting those back beats and I know this sounds mechanical, groove will come soon but I need to get the head/hand part first. Breaking it down.

Doing the 16th notes on the kick twice because I'm trying to keep it simple for now but I was throwing in that quarter note after I recorded this - all this stuff is the hard part, once my brain gets it I got it. And I'll get it, tenacious like that and it won't sound mechanical like it does here.

 

Seb77

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You seem to call the in-between ghostnotes "backbeats" in the last posts, that's the wrong term. The term backbeat is used for the loud snare hits on 2 and 4 in the 4/4 bar, or in the case of halftime, on 3.
The volume seems to be more appropriate in the last video. Just keep practicing this , just hi-hat sand ghostnotes, with the hi-hat a bit louder than the snare.

Before you add the loud backbeats, you will then need to work on snare drum dynamics in general, which is very rewarding, but will take some time before you get back to the shuffle. Practice, with one hand, loud and soft strokes (p for piano and f for forte), just even beats no shuffle rhythm at this moment.
f p f p
f p p f p p
f p p p f p p p

f f p f f p
f f f p f f f p
f f p p f f p p

You'll notice you need a small motion to play p and a larger arc of the stick for f. In order to get from f to p, you need to stop the rebound/bounce after the last f stroke, this is called the downstroke in the Gladstone/Stone terminology. To prepare for a f stroke after a p stroke, you need to do a "wind-up", which is called upstroke.
 

Squirrel Man

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You seem to call the in-between ghostnotes "backbeats" in the last posts, that's the wrong term. The term backbeat is used for the loud snare hits on 2 and 4 in the 4/4 bar, or in the case of halftime, on 3.
The volume seems to be more appropriate in the last video. Just keep practicing this , just hi-hat sand ghostnotes, with the hi-hat a bit louder than the snare.

Before you add the loud backbeats, you will then need to work on snare drum dynamics in general, which is very rewarding, but will take some time before you get back to the shuffle. Practice, with one hand, loud and soft strokes (p for piano and f for forte), just even beats no shuffle rhythm at this moment.
f p f p
f p p f p p
f p p p f p p p

f f p f f p
f f f p f f f p
f f p p f f p p

You'll notice you need a small motion to play p and a larger arc of the stick for f. In order to get from f to p, you need to stop the rebound/bounce after the last f stroke, this is called the downstroke in the Gladstone/Stone terminology. To prepare for a f stroke after a p stroke, you need to do a "wind-up", which is called upstroke.
Thanks, good stuff to wrap my brain around.

I know "backbeats" isn't the right term but they're kinda like that and I know I'm playing them loud for ghost notes, it's the first of other steps, I'm just trying to get the pattern down before working on the technique.

Thanks again, going to chew on this. Do appreciate your input.
 

Squirrel Man

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You seem to call the in-between ghostnotes "backbeats" in the last posts, that's the wrong term. The term backbeat is used for the loud snare hits on 2 and 4 in the 4/4 bar, or in the case of halftime, on 3.
The volume seems to be more appropriate in the last video. Just keep practicing this , just hi-hat sand ghostnotes, with the hi-hat a bit louder than the snare.

Before you add the loud backbeats, you will then need to work on snare drum dynamics in general, which is very rewarding, but will take some time before you get back to the shuffle. Practice, with one hand, loud and soft strokes (p for piano and f for forte), just even beats no shuffle rhythm at this moment.
f p f p
f p p f p p
f p p p f p p p

f f p f f p
f f f p f f f p
f f p p f f p p

You'll notice you need a small motion to play p and a larger arc of the stick for f. In order to get from f to p, you need to stop the rebound/bounce after the last f stroke, this is called the downstroke in the Gladstone/Stone terminology. To prepare for a f stroke after a p stroke, you need to do a "wind-up", which is called upstroke.
ok, thank you for taking the time to spell that out. That's a lot for my brain to digest and I'm going back to it along the way, it's a great reference but I have to baby-step this thing. I really thought I'd grasp it fast, a lot of things I do - this one not so much.

So I broke the hat/snare pattern down to a silly sounding rudiment I'm working on the practice pad for now, kick part is down, this part I need to get.

So kind of triplets on the practice pad and I'm hitting and not ghost noting because I need to get the synch synched first before the feel so, in triplets: RRL RRL RR(L)L RRL RRL RR(L)L

The bolded strokes are done together. That's it and how I'm approaching it, practice pad for now then the kit and once I get the muscle memory in place I'll work on the feel, ghost notes then the groove.

My strategy at least for now.

I'm going to nail this.
 

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So you're thinking of it as RRL? I guess RLR is better to keep the quarter note (in the half time shuffle) steady. Maybe start by playing all kinds of 16th grooves swung to get a smooth hi hat and bass drum first and add the left hand ghost notes a bit later.
The left hand motion has 2 big difficulties: placing it precisely in time on 1 TRIP LET and keeping the ghost notes quiet.
To practice the accent to ghost note in the left hand, repeating this part (basically a Swiss Army Triplet) worked for me:
R R
LL
Also Flam Accents and switching between RLR LRL and RLR RLR on the pad could be helpful exercises. And of course watch Purdie and Porcaro on youtube to see how they are doing it. :)
 

Squirrel Man

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So more progress. I hope this is helping some folks like me out figuring this stuff out.

I have the pattern down, vid clip below. Sounds totally mechanical and crappy but it's glorious progress, all the beats are there, the groove part needs worked on and I'm over the hill and heading down toward the goal. It's in my sights.

I really had to break it down to smaller parts, the practice pad diddle I posted earlier did wonders and I worked that on the hats and snare for a while to get that part. That single second kick took a while, like independent right/left hand, kick and stuff. Breaking all that down for me is a good way for me to get stuff.

 

Matched Gripper

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So more progress. I hope this is helping some folks like me out figuring this stuff out.

I have the pattern down, vid clip below. Sounds totally mechanical and crappy but it's glorious progress, all the beats are there, the groove part needs worked on and I'm over the hill and heading down toward the goal. It's in my sights.

I really had to break it down to smaller parts, the practice pad diddle I posted earlier did wonders and I worked that on the hats and snare for a while to get that part. That single second kick took a while, like independent right/left hand, kick and stuff. Breaking all that down for me is a good way for me to get stuff.

Did you see post number#9.
 

Squirrel Man

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Did you see post number#9.
Yes, sorry - I failed to respond.

I get the ghost note but I had to work on everything independently happening first, mechanics.

I haven't posted an update but I got the mechanics down and I'm working on the details now. Walk before you can run thing and it's sounding a whole lot better. Ghosting those notes now and the groove part which is really most of the project is settling in. I need to work on that part now for a while and I am, hour today on the kit. It's really sounding good but I need more reps at it to get it sounding great.

Thanks
 

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If ghost notes and their placement is the problem then ghost notes and placement is the solution. A tried and true method of proficiency with ghost notes, and basic reading, is the book syncopation by Ted Reed and playing the notation in just the first few pages using the standard variations.

Most of the variations help with shuffles because they're swung. The most applicable to contemporary groove playing and/or faster shuffles heavy with ghosted notes, I think, would be right hand lead, because as you gain speed w/the exercises the ghosting hand's sticking is forced lower on the drum, so you have no choice but to facilitate 1/2" strokes to play it at tempo. If you're not able to articulate the 2 trailing triplets cleanly at tempo (1/2" off the drum) a shuffle sounds like a triplet exercise and not a groove.

This was foundational stuff at PIT during Porcaro and Humphy's tenure where classes spent the better part of 3 months with Ted Reed and the various exercises. Thanks to youtube there are numerous examples to help you get started.

So, you can certainly learn to play shuffles with ghosted notes without exercising your ghosting technique half to death, but if you want to feel like you own the ghost notes I don't know of a better way.
 

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If ghost notes and their placement is the problem then ghost notes and placement is the solution. A tried and true method of proficiency with ghost notes, and basic reading, is the book syncopation by Ted Reed and playing the notation in just the first few pages using the standard variations.

Most of the variations help with shuffles because they're swung. The most applicable to contemporary groove playing and/or faster shuffles heavy with ghosted notes, I think, would be right hand lead, because as you gain speed w/the exercises the ghosting hand's sticking is forced lower on the drum, so you have no choice but to facilitate 1/2" strokes to play it at tempo. If you're not able to articulate the 2 trailing triplets cleanly at tempo (1/2" off the drum) a shuffle sounds like a triplet exercise and not a groove.

This was foundational stuff at PIT during Porcaro and Humphy's tenure where classes spent the better part of 3 months with Ted Reed and the various exercises. Thanks to youtube there are numerous examples to help you get started.

So, you can certainly learn to play shuffles with ghosted notes without exercising your ghosting technique half to death, but if you want to feel like you own the ghost notes I don't know of a better way.
Can you post a you tube link to get us started ?
 

Matched Gripper

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Can you post a you tube link to get us started ?
Purdie shuffle at 3:50 and 4:30:


Porcaro shuffle:


Bonham shuffle:
Check out the bad azz quarter note triplets on the ride bell starting at about 1:38:

 
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