Groove Of The Week #21

It’s Groove Of The Week time, let’s get shufflin’ along.

This week’s groove is one of my favourite shuffles to play. Not an easy one to master, but lets break it down and see what makes it tick.

Get The Groove

There is a lot going on in this groove. Let’s break it down into it’s separate components and then try recombining them to create the groove. Here’s the three separate components of the groove.

3 voices seperated - Hi-hat, snare and bass.
Divide & Conquer!

Your first step is to be able to play all of the components confidently against a metronome. Set your metronome to count 8th note triplets at 40-60 BPM and play each rhythm on it’s respective instrument. Be careful with the snare drum line – be sure to add in the ghost notes to contrast with the back-beat on 2 & 4.

Our next step is to try the various combinations of the 3 voices. Here they are.

combined voices - hi-hat and snare, bass and snare, bass and hi-hat.
Combine & Conquer!

The first combination is the hi-hat and snare, again take it slow and pay attention to the ghost notes on the snare. You may ignore them at first, but once you have the co-ordination and timing down, try to add them in.

The second combination is the bass and snare drum playing an alternating 8th note triplet pattern. Again, add the ghost notes in once you can play the pattern confidently and have a nice smooth triplet rhythm.

The final combination is the hi-hat and the bass drum. Pay special attention to the bass drum notes on the “Puh” partial of the triplet on beats 2 & 4. Make sure they are really in the middle of the other two triplet partials.

Once you can play all three combinations confidently we can look at playing the full groove. As an intermediate step, you might want to try these two grooves. The first groove has the bass and snare drum combination from above with quarter notes added on the hi-hat.

Variation with simple hi-hat
Just a taste of hi-hat

The second groove has the bass drum and hi-hat parts with just the back beat on the snare drum.

variation with simple snare
Gimme some snare

You may find these grooves a helpful stepping stone to playing the full groove. Here’s the full groove, good luck!

the full groove
Shuffle away!

Take It Further

An easy way to change this groove up is to move the Right-hand to Ride cymbal and play the bell of the Ride on the beat.

Ride bell variation
Ring my bell

A variation that can be very effective, when used sparingly, is to copy the bass drum pattern with the Ride cymbal bell. You’ll hear live blues drummers do this… but not in every song and maybe only once or twice in the song; too much gets annoying.

funky ride bell variation
Don’t overdo it!

Practice a 4 bar phrase; 3 bars of the first ride cymbal variation and then a bar of the second variation. Then find a blues jam session and go try it out.

Our final variation is a poweful tom-tom groove. The Right hand plays the shuffle on the floor tom and the left hand notes are split between the snare and the high tom. Check it out:

Tom Tom groove.
Have you met Tom?

When playing Tom Tom grooves don’t play the toms too loud. The bass and snare drum (and the rest of the band) should still be heard above them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #21. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.