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Playing Ghost Notes In A Shuffle Groove Like Reelin’ In The Years

Playing Ghost Notes In A Shuffle Groove Like Reelin' In The YearsI’ve been listening to Steely Dan’s Album Can’t Buy A Thrill a lot lately and two songs really stand out. One is Dirty Work, a very laid back, greasy and dark tune with a funky groove. The other is Reelin’ In The Years which bounces along beautifully, driven by Jim Hodder’s light and fluffy shuffle with ghost notes. It’s so good I’ve listened to the song about fifty times since Sunday.

Shuffles are interesting. Despite being a very common feel, too many musicians can’t play them very well. For drummers it’s particularly important to understand shuffles and to learn how to get the feel to flow nicely. It’s important to learn the nuances of shuffles that feel more triplety and shuffles that feel more sixteenthy and to dig everything inbetween (Stanton Moore shows a great exercise for developing an ear and a feeling for the placement of the “&” going from a straight feel through a round shuffle to an angular shuffle and back again on his video Groove Alchemy).

So I grabbed my colleague Rodrigo of Scrofa Music Recording Studio, who’s helping me get into the video production game, and we made a video showing how to play a shuffle with ghost notes in the style of Reelin’ In The Years’ chorus.

If you want to work in more depth, here’s a PDF with three pages of grooves based on the same ghost note pattern. If you do the lot as 8th note grooves then learn on the ride with hi hat foot playing 2+4 (of course) and also with a quarter-note ride pattern, you have a good chunk of work to do.