Swing/Shuffle Rhythms

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Today I want to show you a basic strumming pattern
that you can use for blues.

You can pretty much just use your ear and follow along
but I also wanted to show you how this rhythm looks
like, notated.

In order to do this, I should probably teach you about
swing rhythms and swing notation.

Certain songs are played to what’s called a Triplet (or swing/shuffle) Feel.
This means that when a pair of 8th/16th notes are to be played, the 1st note
has a slightly longer duration than normal and the 2nd note has a slightly shorter duration than normal.

Usually the ratio is roughly 66% to 33% as opposed to the normal 50-50.
For the most part, it’s easier to write these songs using normal 8ths/16ths
and notating at the start of the song that they are to be played with a triplet feel,
than to construct the song using the actual note durations.

If all this seems confusing, don’t worry because I will explain it using
an example, and if you still don’t get it – thats still ok because you
can just follow along and play it by ear. Understandings of some things
happen slowly over time with more experience and exposure to new concepts.

Ok, so first, lets start with the familiar – the basic 4/4 straight time rhythm.

If we alternate quarter notes and eighth notes, we get a rhythm like this:

[audio:https://www.claudejohnson.com/blog/audio/swing1.mp3]

Ok simple so far, right?

Now the swing notation gets tricky because this rhythm is IMPLIED in a normal
pair of eighth notes.

You will see something like this at the beginning of the song or the measure
to indicate this is swing time.

Ok, now lets look at the rhythm I wanted to show you.

[audio:https://www.claudejohnson.com/blog/audio/swing-time.mp3]

I wont get into all the details here, but needless to say, if I wanted
to notate this rhtyhm using normal (non swing) time, I would have to
use more complicated rhtyhms with dotted notes and dotted rests.

Again, the idea of this lesson isnt to try to master rhythm notations
but just get your feet wet with this idea and also show you this
nice bluesy strum pattern. I hope it was informative.