Blues Left Hand Shuffle Patterns
Welcome to lesson 3 in this course on Chicago Blues Piano. We are now going to shift the focus onto our left hand and explore some useful left hand shuffle patterns and some groovy single note basslines.
We will also cover straight 8th note left hand patterns, but the majority of this lesson will focus on the blues shuffle feel, also known as the triplet 8th note feel.
How to Play a Blues Shuffle
We start by playing the blues shuffle pattern based around a 5th and 6th interval in our left hand. This is one of the most useful patterns to learn because of its simplicity.
It creates both a solid groove, and also harmonic interest at the same time. The 5th interval is unique because it can be played in the lower registers of the piano without it sounding “muddy”.
When working on our hand independence, we must train our left hand to play this rhythm almost subconsciously which frees up our right hand for melodic creativity.
Straight 8ths vs. Shuffle
We can also play the same pattern with straight 8ths. We are using the exact same notes but this gives us a completely different feel.
In terms of ‘swing’, there is a lot of space in-between straight and shuffle. We can choose where to place our 8th notes to get many different types of feel.
Left Hand Shuffle Variations
In this lesson we cover many variations of this simple left hand pattern. Once the basic pattern has been internalised, Steve demonstrates the following variations:
- extending the pattern up the the b7
- adding the b3 to the major 3 then and the 5th and 6th
- playing just the 5th with the b3 to major 3rd
- ‘rolling’ the notes to create many other variations.
Single Note Walking Basslines
Another kind of basslines is the single note walking bassline. The easiest way to construct a single note bassline is to use the arpeggio based on the root, 3rd, 5th and 6th of each chord.
Steve demonstrates multiple choruses with arpeggio basslines, then adds in scalar passages for interest and variety, and finally he demonstrates how to incorporate the b7th into the basslines.
The full transcription of Steve’s walking basslines can be downloaded below.
Left Hand Shuffle Patterns PDF File Type: pdf
Single Note Bassline Patterns File Type: pdf
A 5th interval is a very powerful sound which creates a very solid harmonic foundation for the song. This is why the 5th is so effective for blues basslines.
The 5th could be likened to the biggest stone block in the foundation of a building.
If we play a 3 note chord in the lower registers it can sound "muddy".
The 2 notes of the 5th interval will always give you a big, fat, solid sound in the bass while keeping the sound clear and crisp.