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! Music Editor Wally Schnalle is a drummer, composer, and teacher based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has performed with Eddie Gale, Ernie Watts, and the San Jose Symphony Orchestra. itrhymes.com