Rythm of a blues sh...

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# Rythm of a blues shuffle

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(@thegrimm)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

Please excuse any misuse of terminology; I'm a little vague on all this.

I'm having difficulty understanding the rythm of a blues shuffle such as David describes in his beginner lessons; he speaks of 4/4 time with a triplet per beat. I'm confused, first of all, by what seems to be three notes per quarter note :) But okay, I'm sure I can just go read up some more about timing, though I don't recall anything relating to fitting triplets into 4/4 time...

What I can't get seem to get is a feel for
(1) How triplets in such a 4/4 time structure relate to the amount of time between notes. So, if we're looking at: 1 and a, 2 and a...how much "time" is there between 1 and "and" versus the amount of time between "a" and "2"? Make sense? In other words, there is time separation between notes within a triplet, and also a different time separation between successive triplets.
(2) And therefore I don't get the whole 12 bar blue rhythm, versus what I've always played (all my lessons having been off paper) and can best be described as 4/4 time with 8 evenly spaced notes per measure.

David seems to go on to say (if I'm understanding correctly) that in rock, it's the simpler 4/4 time with 8 notes. For reference, the lessons are in beginner lessons, before, after and including the "Roll over Beethhoven" lesson.

Sorry for my poor explanation of my problem...i seem to be tripleting over my own words here :lol: But perhaps someone can decode ti enough to help.

(@matteo)
Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 557

the shuffle alternates between a long and short note for each beat...so the resulting sound is something like Ta___ta Ta___ta, Ta___ta, Ta___ta. If you play straight 8th notes the sound will be someting like ta-ta, ta-ta , ta-ta , ta-ta (well the example is not so great :-)!)

To me, the best way to play it, is to describe a small circle under the strings with your right hand after the downstrum just before playing the upstrum. This way the upstrum is delayed and the delay is the shuffle effect.

You shoudl listen to a few blues records to get that sound

Matteo

(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921

It's a heartbeat rhythm - da-da-....da-da...

The space varies by the tune. As you've said, making the rhythm closer to eighth notes gives it more of a rock feel. Widening the space (so it's closer to dotted eighth/sixteenth) gives it more of a driving feeling, more urgent sounding in a way. Triplets are the way it's usually taught - it's how I teach them too - but it's a 'feel' thing.

Like matteo said, listening is a great way to approach it. Besides listening to blues, put on anything that 'swings' - it's the same idea.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

(@thegrimm)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

Thanks guys, that's a big help. I guess I can experiment. With the timing a little. so it's not necessarily a fixed thing, more in one direction is bluesy, and more in the other is, er...rocky.

I'm pretty new to music, not just the guitar, so have never really listened to much music, I must confess. Not actively, that is. And blues has always been at the bottom of my list, I confess also. But when it comes to playing, I want a solid grounding in theory, and would like to dabble in all genres music (the theory being that knowing about one genre will also teach me about other genres).

So when you suggest listening to some blues, I don't know where to start. It would need to be something that simple enough that I can discern the basic rhythm without getting sidetracked by variations (at least at first). And also something not too hard to get hold of. Anyone have suggestions?

(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921

One that springs to mind right off is the acoustic version of Layla. Listen to the spacing between the notes in the introductory lead and you'll hear that broken triplet rhythm.

Since it is such a 'feel' thing, you'll find lots of blues musicians actually vary their rhythm slightly through a song.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

(@matteo)
Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 557

Hi mate to a first listening you could buy some collection from classic bluesman like John lee hooker, b.b. king, muddy waters..there are some excellent ones at a budget price (I paid them around 5 euros!). If you are more into hard rock-blues, you could check some old ZZ top record like "tres hombres"...

Matteo

(@geoo)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2801

Hey Grimm. I found this websitea while back and it has some terrific lessons on beginning blues guitar. Atleast, I thought they were terrific. And yes, it does talk about the shuffle. Has sound files with it too.

Geoo

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)

(@p0rr)
Estimable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 141

this should help too, give a listen to the mp3's

http://www.playguitarmagazine.com/article/PG6/PG6,5500,LESSONS-2.asp

Good luck....

(@mikey)
Reputable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 329

(1) How triplets in such a 4/4 time structure relate to the amount of time between notes. So, if we're looking at: 1 and a, 2 and a...how much "time" is there between 1 and "and" versus the amount of time between "a" and "2"? Make sense? In other words, there is time separation between notes within a triplet, and also a different time separation between successive triplets.

If I'm not mistaken, their is no difference between the amount of time between the '1' & 'and' vs. the 'a' & '2'.

The shuffle takes place when you play the first and last note of the triplet.

``` 1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 and a 1 and a 2....... / / / / / / / / / / /```

as you can see from the above triplet count where the slashes are the strums. By leaving out the middle count of 'and' the third count 'a' is right next to the next first count (numbered count). This skipping of the middle count is what creates the shuffle feel.

Try hitting your thigh with your right hand counting 1 2 3 slowly (a tap for each count). Then while still doing that with your right hand take your left hand and hit your thigh only on counts 1 and 3. It will take a bit of doing but you'll then understand the shuffle concept.

Mike

Playing an instrument is good for your soul

(@thegrimm)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

One that springs to mind right off is the acoustic version of Layla. Listen to the spacing between the notes in the introductory lead and you'll hear that broken triplet rhythm.

Since it is such a 'feel' thing, you'll find lots of blues musicians actually vary their rhythm slightly through a song.

!!!

I think I have that on my Acoustic Nights CD...must go check!

!!!

Thanks for all the help, guys. It really does motivate one to keep playing, having a site like this but no teacher. Had one for three weeks, but it didn't work out.

(@aoco)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10

I was actually practicing strumming last night using something similar to:

|_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
|_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
|_ 1_ _ 0 _ 1 _ _
|_ 2 _ _ 0 _ 2 _ _
|_ 2 _ _ 0 _ 2 _ _
|_ x _ _ x _ x _ _
/ ^ /

I play this in a nearly constant loop and try to sneak in some other chords, It gets a bit boring to hear the same chord over and over and over but it helps me work on my strumming and timing and feels a little bluesy at the same time. I'm not sure if I'm even talking about the same thing, but this is what I do.

And since we're making listening suggestions, I would posit John Spencer's Blues Explosion. Although not neccessarily raw blues like the masters, it carries a great balance of blues and rock and allows you to explore the blues in an different way.

---------
cheers!
aoco

(@vink)
Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 722

Please check out this post for a video lesson link. I think he does a particularly good job of explaining the blues shuffle in a simple manner.

When I was starting out to learn the blues shuffle, I found it very confusing, and this lesson, as well as listening to some blues, really helped.

--vink
"Life is either an adventure or nothing" -- Helen Keller

(@thegrimm)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter

I spend some time last night experimenting with the timing of notes, and I think I have it. Now if only I can figure out how to stretch my fingers enough to span five frets!!!

(@mikey)
Reputable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 329

I spend some time last night experimenting with the timing of notes, and I think I have it. Now if only I can figure out how to stretch my fingers enough to span five frets!!!

Your fingers will stretch with a small amount of practice and time. Two quick tips come to mind.
1. Make sure your thumb is behind the middle finger of your fretting hand. It is normal at the begining to place it opposite your index finger. This makes making the stretch difficult. Also try moving your thumb down the back of the neck to the middle, this will give you more span. You won't be able to make the stretch if your thumb is hanging over the fretboard.
2. Start practicing up the fretboad. If you can't make the stretch from the 2nd fret to the 7th fret then slap a capo at the 3rd fret and practice stretching from the 5th fret to the 10th fret. The further up the fretboard you go towards the bridge the close the frets are together. If 5 to 10 is too hard, move the entire set up (capo and fingers) towards the bridge, too easy move the set up towards the tuners. This will expand your reach a small bit at a time.

Mike

Playing an instrument is good for your soul

(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582

This is exactly the same count as Mikey described, but I was taught to count triplets by breaking every quarter note into 3. This might help.
``` 1 2 3 2 2 3 3 2 3 4 2 3 One Two Three, Two Two Three, Three Two Three, Four Two Three / / / / / / / / ```

A well known song with this shuffle is Some Kind of Wonderful by Grand Funk Railroad. The bass plays this exact shuffle throughout most of the song.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis