Blues School: Rhythm & Notation

A defining characteristic of Blues is the subdivision of each beat into triplets played in "shuffle" rhythm.

While in written music it is common practice to write the blues using 4/4 time and to write the eighth notes as "straight" eighths as follows...

Blues Rhythm

 

.... in order to be performed accurately in "shuffle" rhythm, the music notation should really look more like this...

Blues Shuffle

You will also hear people refer to Blues shuffle rhythm as 12/8 time, which could be written like this...

Blues Shuffle

It is customary to simplify the notation to make things easier to read, with the full understanding that those who know how to interpret blues style will know that the music needs to bounce in this triplet "shuffle" rhythm. Welcome to the inner circle of those in the know!