Boogie Woogie: Rhythm & Notation

In written music, it is common practice to write boogie woogie using 4/4 time and to write the eighth notes as "straight" eighths as follows...

Boogie Woogie: Rhythm & Notation

 

In order to be performed [almost] accurately in swing rhythm, the music notation should really look more like this...

Boogie Woogie: Rhythm & Notation

 

or maybe this (in 12/8 time) ...

Boogie Woogie: Rhythm & Notation

 

Notice that we said "almost" accurately and "more like", not exactly like. In reality, none of these notations necessarily captures what it really going on with the time. Precisely how much time to add to the first note and subtract from the second note depends on the tune and tempo and style.

In general, the difference tends to get "wider" (approaching a Blues shuffle) at slower tempos and "narrower" (approaching straight eighths) at faster tempos. As you will discover, there is often quite a bit of overlap between Boogie Woogie, Blues, and Jazz. Ultimately, it is all about what feels right.

That said, just realize this: It is customary to simplify the notation to make the music easier to read, with the full understanding that the music typically needs to bounce or "swing" -- a rhythm that you can feel, but will have a hard time capturing with existing music notation. Welcome to the inner circle of those in the know!