Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately.

I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…

Today we are talking about a classic song and the potential trickiness of the blues shuffle rhythm…


Email #1

“Try an experiment: Listen to the classic (some would say overplayed) “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. In the first stanza, you hear Ritchie Blackmore play that iconic guitar riff. In the second stanza, Ian Paice comes in with the drums. Sounds great like any rock song, but it still sounds tinny and “anaemic”. Something is missing. Then on the third stanza, Roger Glover comes in with the bass, and now it sounds like a REAL rock song!”

Thought this would interest you



I love this sort of thing in music

It’s one of those subtle “arrangement” things where, as an audience, you feel like you’re being teased, and you’re not completely sure why.

…But then boom, the bass kicks in, and you get that extra “oomph”.


Bands have the option to begin with a big bang and have the guitar, bass, and drums all start at the same time.

Sometimes, though, a build-up where each instrument comes in one at a time sounds great.

You can do this sort of thing on your own on the guitar too (although it’s more of an advanced idea).


For instance, if you have a Travis picking song where you’re playing the melody, you can start with only the bass picking, then you can add in some chord tones before adding in the melody.

It’s all fun stuff, but a simple thing we can all take from Gordon’s email is the usefulness of listening deeply.

How many people have heard “Smoke on the Water” a gazillion times but never really noticed this?

Listening deeply to music and songs, especially those you’ve heard many times, is a very enlightening and interesting experience for sure.


Email #2

“I was reading a theory book and it said blues rhythm comes from trains going down the track.

Personally, I found it impossible to count the rhythm in my head. You can get an idea of the rhythm, but you have to let go and “feel it” or play it.

Listening to some early blues players like Howlin’ Wolf can help.

I hope that makes sense. I am no blues expert but this has helped me.”



I don’t know for sure if that’s a fact about the blues shuffle rhythm coming from trains going down the track.

…But it’s an interesting one for sure.

It is possible this rhythm came about much earlier than that. Some people say it came from Scottish jig music and some say the shuffle is inspired by the rhythm of a heartbeat.


In terms of playing the blues shuffle, I’ve had students over the years fall into two distinct camps.

Number 1 are the students who found counting the rhythm out loud helped.

Number 2 were the students who had to hear and ‘feel’ the rhythm instead,


Sometimes it would take a student a little while for this rhythm and feeling to click.

The one thing they had in common was that with patience, they would get it.

The shuffle rhythm is a little unusual in some ways – mainly because we don’t hear it all that much – especially in modern radio music.

…But it is full of groove, very distinctive, and sounds great.


You really can enjoy the blues and the shuffle forever on the guitar.

To learn this rhythm and style of playing, you might want to check this out:

How to play the 12-bar blues, enjoy the shuffle, and jam exciting licks and riffs


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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