theory from Frank Singer.comShuffle Rhythm | print this page | close this window |

Shuffles are generally rhythms in 4/4 time, in which each beat is sub-divided into three equal parts called eighth-note triplets.

eighth-note triplets
eighth-note triplets, or three-over-two eighth-note triplets, or three-over-two
"one-trip-let  two-trip-let  three-trip-let  four-trip-let"

In shuffles and swing rhythms, the beat (one, two, three or four) and the let are accentuated to produce the feel.

shuffle rhythm
shuffle rhythm  shuffle rhythm  shuffle rhythm  shuffle rhythm
"one-(trip)-let  two-(trip)-let  three-(trip)-let  four-(trip)-let"

Shuffles are a Fatback style, which means the second and fourth beats of the measure are accented. The bass and kick drum form most of their rhythmic ideas around the basic shuffle rhythm, with the snare drum sounding on two-and-four.
Blues is often played with a shuffle feel, at tempos ranging from very slow to very fast. Boogie-Woogie music has a shuffle beat, usually at a medium or faster tempo.

Shuffle Notation

Shuffles are often notated using rhythm notation normally reserved for eighth-notes and sixteenth-notes. The term Shuffle is displayed in the tempo-marking area in the upper-left-hand corner above the staff. Two variants of this notation are in use.

common shuffle notation
shuffle rhythm notated with eighth-notes
shuffle rhythm notated with dotted-eighth/sixteenth-notes

Both notations are counted and played as the shuffle rhythm shown above. The second notation is now less common.
Any use of the trip returns the notation to an eighth-note triplet. Eighth-note triplets are beamed by beat.

©2003, Frank Singer | Naked Kitty Productions | chelaBOP | Frank
All Rights Reserved