Lessons

Herman Matthews: Shuffle This

While traveling the highways and byways of this vast land of ours, I’ve come across many wonderful young bands with incredible drummers. I’ve noticed that those young drummers who play hip-hop, new jack and go-go have a hip swing to their lope. Having said that, there are also some drummers out there who couldn’t shuffle their way through a paper bag. I look at the shuffle as the root of most of today’s grooves, much like the blues is the root of most of today’s music. I’m not saying one must go out and listen to the blues, although it wouldn’t hurt.

There are drummers who are known for their shuffles: Bernard Purdie, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Jordan, Steve Gadd, Jim Keltner, Chris Layton from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Kevin Hayes with the Robert Cray Band and Tony Braunagel with Taj Mahal, to name a few. I’ve found that you can rock a band’s world with the right kind of shuffle.

Here are a few of my favorite basic shuffles. Play these with attitude. The notes in parentheses are ghost notes, so play them lightly. Practice Ex. 1-4 at slow to medium tempos. Make sure you emphasize beats 2 and 4 with the shuffle patterns. With the half-time shuffle patterns emphasize beat 3. Snap the snare sharply!

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