Cut-Time Shuffle Seasoning

When I see cut-time as a time signature I immediately think one backbeat per measure. Next I want to know the feel for the particular piece of music. There are of course many possibilities, but this column deals with a classic cut-time feel: the shuffle. A regular shuffle has two backbeats per measure, landing on beats 2 and 4, but the cut-time shuffle has only one backbeat per measure – smack dab in the middle of the measure on beat 3. Exs. 1—4 are hand patterns I use often when playing these sorts of grooves. They are all shuffles in the right hand except Ex. 4, which uses a jazz ride pattern. The amount of ghost notes used on the snare can season the groove appropriately for the environment in which you’re playing. Create a solid triplet feel and keep the ghost notes low for a solid groove. The bass drum patterns in Exs. 5—8 are commonly used in this type of groove. These are, of course, but a few of the many possibilities. They will give you a good starting vocabulary, though. Combine all the bass and hand patterns and you’ve already got sixteen grooves to use.

DRUM! Notation Guide