The Half Time Shuffle

Sinclair

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Slight off topic since it's not in half time. Check out Milton Sledge on this tune. Swampy Cajun shuffle, there's times that depending on what is going on it sounds like a shuffle and other times almost sounds like straight 8's. Great feel

Milton Sledge..man! What a great feel is right! Love the snare during the breakdown. Simple but swingin'. Not unnoticed is how simple the bass drum part is. 1&3 pretty much straight up n down gets it. Also helps that everyone on that track knows how to play that feel too. If this groove just doesn't makes ya break out in a smile somethin's broken.
 
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jaymandude

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99% of the shuffles I've ever had to play were Chicago or Texas shuffle feels...the half time thing I can play but NEVER have to
just my experience o'course.
TR
Yes. I get that it’s maybe a good thing to learn. Maybe. But once you do it becomes one of the most over rated grooves in drumming. IMHO
I think Purdie says he got it from Elvin
 
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dcrigger

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I keep cringing at this specific half-time shuffle approach - the Rosanna, the Purdie, the Fool in the Rain - being referred to as "Half Time Shuffle" - when "Half Time Shuffle" is a way, way, way broader term incorporating many different beats and approaches than this one.

The defining element of a Purdie-Rosanna shuffle is obvious presence of the middle triplets. A defining element of the Purdie-Rosanna shuffle, yes. But not a necessary element for considering a beat (or piece) to be considered a "half time shuffle".

A half-time shuffle has two requirements - it must have 1 - a shuffle feel (1st and 3rd triplet... swing feel... etc.) and 2 - it must have a "half-time back beat feel.

If it's a 18th note shuffle feel - then instead of backbeats on 2 and 4, the back beat would be on 3. If it's a 16th note shuffle feel, then the backbeats would be on 2 and 4 (not the "and's")

I believe, that's it.

The Purdie-Rosanna shuffle is a half time shuffle.

But not all half time shuffles resemble the Purdie-Rosanna shuffle....

... except in the two ways listed above.

Ah... I feel better now.... carry on...
 
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Yeah Dave!!!! I'll extrapolate a little further.

MANY young (and many not so young) drummers (and musicians in general) have NO IDEA what a half time groove or feel actually is!!!! But they think they do. I deal with this with MANY students that I get after they have been playing for a while. I've even seen this misexplained in music magazines, and by "instructors" on youtube. (To make it worse) Half time grooves are used a TON today. I think every Green Day, Fallout Boy, and others, have a half time (breakdown type) section in the middle. It's really a formulaic songwriting tool that is really overused today.

When most younger drummers (and many musicians) come to this part of the tune they (mistakenly) say, think, or conceptualize "This is where the tunes slows down." It's just a matter of bad (or no) musical training.

I always teach students ("normal" non shuffled, straight eighth) half time grooves first. When they realize that the tempo doesn't actually change, it's just how you are stating the tempo that changes, they are fascinated. Thinking about it correctly even makes a difference in how the groove feels (in my opinion.) It also makes it MUCH easier to transition into and out of the halftime sections of the tunes. SOMETIMES, for more advanced players (that amazingly have no idea what "half time" is,) I will also explain that the chordal rhythm (or movement) usually changes at this point as well to reemphasize the half time feeling.

Then when we encounter shuffles, we can (eventually) revisit half time and shuffles combined to become... A halftime shuffle. Then we explore the variations on that groove (with the ghost notes,) this is where the Purdie shuffle (and the Led Zep, and Rosanna) come in.

It's just an unfortunate and depressing lack of musical education, and POOR instruction (or what passes for instruction) these days. It's usually the same instructors that explain jazz time with dotted eighth and sixteenth notes. 1 2a 3 4a (OUCH!!!) (And no I'm not talking about the Chapin book. Let's stay on subject)

Back to half time shuffles. Here's three more of my faves.




Oh and thanks to Blueshadow for posting that Trisha Yearwood track, damn! That was swingin!!!! (and POWERFUL!) Did Milton do all or most of her records? Which is the best one to start with?

MSG
 
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troutstudio

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Without looking into, straight off the top of my head and likely full of holes, my understanding of the Half Time Shuffle is that Bernard Purdie pioneered then showcased it on seminal tunes like Steely Dan’s Babylon Sister and Home At Last. Great, smooth playing but fairly straight head as far as the beat goes.

Somehow Bonham both heard and was influenced by this and it inspired his playing on Fool in the Rain, that playing was a lot funkier and more sophisticated, employing a tricky hi hat chirp, straight ahead fills out of nowhere and a thumping foot the gives many drummers a hard time to this day.

Then comes Porcaro with Rosanna. He cleans the whole package up, making it both slick and modern and adding to the tempo, making an already difficult groove even hard to pull off. He also adds top level fills and cymbal work to the groove making this half time shuffle a real arrow in the quiver of any drummer who can even come close to pulling it off.

Are these the Big Three in the evolution of this groove?
As far as chronology goes, I would have thought it to be Bonham, Purdie, Porcaro. Porcaro said he took the idea from Bonham and Purdie, with some Bo Diddly thrown in. To me they are actually quite different feels. The Bonham version is much more on the beat. Fairly busy; and always feels on the verge of breaking in to a regular shuffle. All the fills are forward motion triplets - he's driving the song along. Purdie said he developed his feel doing sessions for people who wanted a shuffle but not an actual shuffle, which in the 70's in contemporary music sessions had fallen out of favour. The thing that makes his different is the jazz and R&B drumming it came from. There is space; and the fills are spiky and syncopated - he uses a combination of straight and swung notes in the same phrase. Personally I think like many great artistic ideas this was a bit of a simultaneous development from a common idea - playing half time in different genres. Little Feat used it and they liked to stretch out the feel from straight to shuffled in the same song (Don't Bogart That Joint) Dixie Chicken was most often a half time shuffle, since they ended it live in double time. IMO the common thing all these drummers had was a very good understanding of space and swing.
 

Nacci

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As far as chronology goes, I would have thought it to be Bonham, Purdie, Porcaro. Porcaro said he took the idea from Bonham and Purdie, with some Bo Diddly thrown in. To me they are actually quite different feels. The Bonham version is much more on the beat. Fairly busy; and always feels on the verge of breaking in to a regular shuffle. All the fills are forward motion triplets - he's driving the song along. Purdie said he developed his feel doing sessions for people who wanted a shuffle but not an actual shuffle, which in the 70's in contemporary music sessions had fallen out of favour. The thing that makes his different is the jazz and R&B drumming it came from. There is space; and the fills are spiky and syncopated - he uses a combination of straight and swung notes in the same phrase. Personally I think like many great artistic ideas this was a bit of a simultaneous development from a common idea - playing half time in different genres. Little Feat used it and they liked to stretch out the feel from straight to shuffled in the same song (Don't Bogart That Joint) Dixie Chicken was most often a half time shuffle, since they ended it live in double time. IMO the common thing all these drummers had was a very good understanding of space and swing.
I think Babylon Sister was recorded in 1980 but Purdie did the Half Time Shuffle on Home At Last which I think was “78”. As far as I know Fool in the Rain was “79”. The whole thing is tight, tight. I would love to know who heard and was inspired by what.
 
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Supernoodle

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Dennis Chambers does a version of the Rosanna groove with two ghost notes instead of one:


I think one sounds a bit better but then you'd be just copying Jeff...
 

jaymandude

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Yes he plays that version for Babylon Sisters on the only SD live release. It's freakin' difficult to play, I know that.
different feel too. That's not a criticism. I mean, it's Dennis, he's superbad. Just a different feel..
 

Seb77

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To me they are actually quite different feels. The Bonham version is much more on the beat. Fairly busy; and always feels on the verge of breaking in to a regular shuffle.
I found it interesting to hear drums-only track of Fool in the Rain and hearing Bonham counting in the "fast" quarter notes, the backbeat coming on count 3.
I used to think half-time shuffle always meant swung "secondary subdivision" (16ths in 4/4 time), where snare would constitute counts 2 and 4:
 

Nacci

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I found it interesting to hear drums-only track of Fool in the Rain and hearing Bonham counting in the "fast" quarter notes, the backbeat coming on count 3.
I used to think half-time shuffle always meant swung "secondary subdivision" (16ths in 4/4 time), where snare would constitute counts 2 and 4:
Remember; Bonham could not read music and probably had no idea what a swung secondary subdivision was. He probably heard Page play a guitar riff then figured out that groove between swallows of Old Grandad.
 

JDA

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The Chamber version of Babylon Sisters Live he adds- two (or four) sixteenth "straight" notes- to the end- about four or five times thruout that recording- to the phrase I've never heard anyone do that except Dennis.
It feels (makes the feel) like falling off the stool or cliff. da da da da dum; straight notes not triplet (I think..
still hard to grasp/write out/ can execute it under pressure/only)
----oh here Modern Drummer covered it in 2019-------

The Dennis Idea
Chambers mostly plays a classic half-time (or “Purdie”) shuffle throughout “Babylon Sisters.” But if you listen to the recording carefully around the 1:12 mark, you’ll hear a cool little 16th- note phrase, which sparked my interest. Here’s a transcription of this figure.
Babylon Sisters 1

Chambers uses a 16th-note double stroke on the snare to create an interesting push in the groove. To build on that, I figured that we could also play this idea as 16th-note triplets, as demonstrated in Exercise 2.
Babylon Sisters 2

Developing Precision
To play both of these ideas correctly, you have to be very precise with each note’s placement. I created the following exercises to help develop that phrasing. Be especially careful with how you phrase the 16th notes and the 16th-note triplets. They have to sound different, even though they’re closely related.
Developing Precision 1

Next, I practiced those rhythms while adding a bass drum on the last triplet partial of every beat. Again, be very precise about how you line up the notes on the bass drum and hi-hat.
Developing Precision 2

Varying the Main Groove
Now that you’re more comfortable with these new ideas, let’s insert them into the main half-time shuffle groove. This creates some cool variations that you can use at various opportunities when you’re grooving your way through
the pattern.
Let’s try this figure on the first beat.
Varying Main Groove 1

And now we’ll play it on beat 2.
Varying Main Beat 2

And finally let’s move the phrase to the third beat.
Varying Main Beat 3

Once you’ve made your way through all the variations, play them along to the Alive in America version of “Babylon Sisters” while trying to match Chambers’ feel. This will work wonders for your groove playing, note placement, and precision. I also suggest that you check out the rest of the record, as there are plenty of other rhythms from both Chambers and Erskine that will make your jaw drop to the floor. Have fun practicing!
Daniel Bédard is a Montreal-based drummer, educator, and clinician. For more information, visit danielbedarddrums.com.
GET FULL ACCESS!

See Modern Drummer March 2019 click cached version to get

Listen for the straight/sixteenths:

 
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troutstudio

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The Chamber version of Babylon Sisters Live he adds- two (or four) sixteenth "straight" notes- to the end- about four or five times thruout that recording- to the phrase I've never heard anyone do that except Dennis.
It feels (makes the feel) like falling off the stool or cliff. da da da da dum; straight notes not triplet (I think..
still hard to grasp/write out/ can execute it under pressure/only)

The Dennis Idea
Chambers mostly plays a classic half-time (or “Purdie”) shuffle throughout “Babylon Sisters.” But if you listen to the recording carefully around the 1:12 mark, you’ll hear a cool little 16th- note phrase, which sparked my interest. Here’s a transcription of this figure.
Babylon Sisters 1

Chambers uses a 16th-note double stroke on the snare to create an interesting push in the groove. To build on that, I figured that we could also play this idea as 16th-note triplets, as demonstrated in Exercise 2.
Babylon Sisters 2

Developing Precision
To play both of these ideas correctly, you have to be very precise with each note’s placement. I created the following exercises to help develop that phrasing. Be especially careful with how you phrase the 16th notes and the 16th-note triplets. They have to sound different, even though they’re closely related.
Developing Precision 1

Next, I practiced those rhythms while adding a bass drum on the last triplet partial of every beat. Again, be very precise about how you line up the notes on the bass drum and hi-hat.
Developing Precision 2

Varying the Main Groove
Now that you’re more comfortable with these new ideas, let’s insert them into the main half-time shuffle groove. This creates some cool variations that you can use at various opportunities when you’re grooving your way through
the pattern.
Let’s try this figure on the first beat.
Varying Main Groove 1

And now we’ll play it on beat 2.
Varying Main Beat 2

And finally let’s move the phrase to the third beat.
Varying Main Beat 3

Once you’ve made your way through all the variations, play them along to the Alive in America version of “Babylon Sisters” while trying to match Chambers’ feel. This will work wonders for your groove playing, note placement, and precision. I also suggest that you check out the rest of the record, as there are plenty of other rhythms from both Chambers and Erskine that will make your jaw drop to the floor. Have fun practicing!
Daniel Bédard is a Montreal-based drummer, educator, and clinician. For more information, visit danielbedarddrums.com.
GET FULL ACCESS!

See Modern Drummer March 2019 click cached version to get

Listen for the straight/sixteenths:

As much as I admire DC; and his musical decisions regarding the well known drum feels with SD, I have tried all the various nuances when playing Babylon Sisters and Home At Last (since I played both tunes regularly) and listening back I have decided that they can distract from the flow of the song. Perhaps it’s just that I cannot play them like Dennis! One I have kept from DC is the straight time ruff onto beat one which I think works if used sparingly. Some gigs I play a verse in Babylon as a reggae feel. This is to remember Walter Becker, who loved reggae and contributed a great deal of it in his rhythm parts. I also count in these slow half time feels with the last bar in double time. I think it helps the band in the first set anyway.
 

Matched Gripper

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I think Babylon Sister was recorded in 1980 but Purdie did the Half Time Shuffle on Home At Last which I think was “78”. As far as I know Fool in the Rain was “79”. The whole thing is tight, tight. I would love to know who heard and was inspired by what.
Aja/Home at Last was ‘77.
 

jaymandude

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As much as I admire DC; and his musical decisions regarding the well known drum feels with SD, I have tried all the various nuances when playing Babylon Sisters and Home At Last (since I played both tunes regularly) and listening back I have decided that they can distract from the flow of the song. Perhaps it’s just that I cannot play them like Dennis! One I have kept from DC is the straight time ruff onto beat one which I think works if used sparingly. Some gigs I play a verse in Babylon as a reggae feel. This is to remember Walter Becker, who loved reggae and contributed a great deal of it in his rhythm parts. I also count in these slow half time feels with the last bar in double time. I think it helps the band in the first set anyway.
Man, I love the intro.. it's like P-Funk....Random but related.... I did some gigs with Cornelius Bumpus during this time before he passed. He's the sax player, or one of them. He told me he loved the way Dennis played the gig, his favorite. And I know another friend liked Ricky Lawson. It's just funny how and why certain players like another..
 


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