The Drums – Shuffle Rhythms

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 30,651
    Professional drummer Wes Crawford demonstrates how to play shuffle rhythms on your drum set.

    Wes Crawford

    Wes began his professional music career after graduating with a B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Tech. Soon thereafter, he began performing drumset with the extraordinary Jazz/R&B singer Jane L. Powell, a musical association that lasted eleven years and continues as a managerial relationship. The group toured throughout North America and the Caribbean performing at festivals, universities, resorts, nightclubs, and cruise ships. They opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, The Crusaders, Joan Jett, Ernie Watts, and Paula Poundstone, and occasionally performed alongside artists such as Tony Bennett, O.C. Smith, and Dorothy Moore. The 1,300 colleges and universities comprising the National Association for Campus Activities voted the group Entertainer of the Year in 1990, their highest honor, and Jazz Artist of the Year for 1990-1992. During these years of touring, Wes also recorded two albums with Ms. Powell as well as for several outside artists. Wes also conducted electronic percussion seminars at VA Tech and at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted. In 1992, Wes settled with his family in the Washington, DC area as an independent artist on drumset and percussion where he currently performs and records with acts such as Shahin & Sepehr (Higher Octave/Narada world music recording artists), Cocktail Nuts (aka “C-NUTS”- Jazz versions of rock classics, on Wildchild/Mapleshade Records), mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman (including a clinic at PASIC 2000 and a featured performance at Baltimore Drum Day 2000), Squeeze Bayou (1998 winners of the “Best Non-Louisiana-Based Cajun Band Recording” awarded by the Cajun French Music Association), and Night Life (high-energy show band). Wes has also regularly performed and/or recorded with Aisha Kahlil (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Eva Cassidy, Catalyst Events’ “Beatswork!,” Zydeco Crayz, Mary Ann Borelli, “Oh Susannah!”, Sugar Jones, and Armadillo recording artist Daryl Davis. His other noteworthy performances and recordings include those with the David Bach Consort (2nd place winner in the 1998 BET unsigned band video contest), Hennesy Jazz Search regional winner Jerry Gordon, and performances with Milestone recording artist Ron Holloway. Wes considers education to be an important link to the future of the percussive arts and teaches drumset privately and at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. He also performs in public school assemblies with Mosaic, which provided the musical instruction and curriculum for the 2000 Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Wes serves as the Director of the annual Drumset And Percussion Camp of the Goucher Summer Arts Institute and as Vice-President of the MD/DE chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 2000, Wes started MusicAndGames4U.com, a site to feature his interactive educational media such as his popular “Drumset Play-Along DVD.” His latest “A Rhythmic Murder Mystery” interactive DVD features a solo electronic drumset concert, which he also performs live. Wes holds Associate Artist relationships with Maryland Drum Company and with Trueline Drumsticks, and he occasionally works as Music Consultant for the not-for-profit Sustainable Environments for Health + Shelter.

    Hi. I am Wes Crawford and we are now going to talk about shuffle rhythms. Shuffle rhythms are based in triplets and we have talked before about a Blues rhythm something like this based in triplets - One triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet.

    Well, if you speed up the triplets it gets very difficult to play really fast (Music). It can sound real clutter even if you can do it. So, what we would find is if you want to do a triplet kind of a feel and a triplet kind of a subdivision thats faster, leave out the middle triplet and what we have is a shuffle rhythm. So you get, One triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet; One triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet; One triplet, two triplet, three triplet, four triplet.

    See this bounce, you are hitting on the beat every time so you are showing where the beat is but you're subdividing and having this bounce to it too (Music). Same beat that we have been doing in lots of examples are bass drum on one, snare on two, bass drum on three, snare on four and so forth, but now we are putting this triplet feeling thats a bit quicker on the top and we are doing this bouncy kind of feel called the shuffle feel.

    Now, if you learn the one I was just playing (music) and you learn to play the bass drum on all four beats (music), you probably have now learned the shuffle beats that you use in well over half of the songs that youll ever encounter. Again, you can vary the bass drum and the snare drum in ways that you might enjoy and ways that you might here and try to copy. You will hear something like (music). I just wanted to give you few examples how you can more from one to the other and you can go back and try to work on some of these too. But thats a shuffle rhythm.