From DRUM! Magazine’s February 2018 Issue | Text, Music, And Video By Joe Smyth
Let’s look at variations on a seminal groove that was developed by the irrepressible Bernard “Pretty” Purdie. The “Purdie Shuffle” is a half-time shuffle in which ghost notes played by the left hand are what really make the groove happen (Ex. 1).
Purdie played his Purdie Shuffle on two Steely Dan tracks: “Home At Last” on the 1977 album, Aja (Ex. 2)…
…and 1980’s “Babylon Sisters” from Gaucho (Ex. 3).
In this shuffle’s simplest and most organic form, shown in Ex. 4, Purdie plays the backbeat with a rim-click while using his other three fingers to play the ghost notes.
He also sometimes keeps the bass drum fully shuffling along, while adding open hi-hats on each third triplet subdivision and placing the backbeat on the snare (Ex. 5).
Moving the snare onto beats 1 and 3 (Ex. 6) creates a turnaround or transitional rhythm.
Experiment with maintaining the right- and left-hand parts from Ex. 6 while varying the bass drum part (Ex. 7).
You can also combine the shuffle with a swinging Bo Diddley beat (Ex. 8), which is almost the “Rosanna” shuffle as played by Jeff Porcaro.
Finally, you can play the shuffle as a 6/8 half-time groove (Ex. 9). Enjoy the Purdie Shuffle — and make it your own!
JOE SMYTH is a founding member of the award-winning Sawyer Brown band, touring the world for the past 37 years. He also teaches drums and percussion at Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.