Drummer Issue 80 – Shuffles Part II – The ‘Porcaro Shuffle’

TUITION – James Hester

Shuffles Part Two: The ‘Porcaro’ Shuffle

No series on shuffles would be complete without a look at what is commonly regarded as the ‘Porcaro’ shuffle. As the late session master revealed in his own video, the famous shuffle that featured on hits such as ‘Rosanna’ (Toto) and ‘Lido Shuffle’ (Boz Scaggs) developed from listening to drumming legends John Bonham and Bernard Purdie. There’s much coverage and literature on playing this type of groove so have a search on the internet but be wary (as ever online) of the quality of the material! I’ve broken down the shuffle into separate areas that must be practiced individually until they just ‘fall under the hands’ with ease.

These are the four composite hand patterns you need to work on. Work slowly and with a click. Take you time and get inside these patterns – the greatest difference to your shuffles come from these four bars!

A – This is the ‘rolling’ part of the triplet – the right hand is playing the shuffle, the left hand is filling out the second partial.

B – These three beats give us the back beat part of the groove. Working on your inverted doubles will help with this part.

C – Once you are comfortable playing A, play this again with an accent on the first right hand. Play it with the shoulder of the stick on the edge of the hi hats to create a bigger tone. The second right hand should be played with the tip of the stick on the shoulder of the hi hats to create a thinner sound.

D – This is the trickiest part of the composite sections. You need to accent the left and right hands on the first partial and then play the left and right hands quietly.

NB – B denotes both hands and for the sake of clarity the right hand is played on the hi hats and the left hand on the snare in the audio examples:




Example A                  Example B                  Example C                 Example D

Once you have these comfortable, you can start to combine them. Think of these like rudiments like a double paradiddle or paradiddle. The first will eventually give you shuffle, the second, a half time shuffle. Working on this will enable your hands to fall slickly and evenly. Don’t worry about adding the accents in yet: focus on the sequence of notes.

Example 1




Example 1 AUDIO


Example 2




Example 2 AUDIO


Once the sticking is under control – add the accents. This is one of the issues with most peoples shuffle grooves: the dynamics. Here are the left hand parts written out in isolation. There are two issues here. The first is the unaccented note that follows the accent. You need to get this under control. The next issue is the contrasting motions of the right hand accent pattern and the left. THIS WILL TAKE A WHILE… TAKE YOUR TIME!!

Example 3




Example 3 AUDIO


Example 4




Example 4 AUDIO



This next example shows you the right hand accent pattern in isolation.

Example 5




Example 5 AUDIO



Once you have these hand patterns/stickings sorted and the accents are sounding great, add these bass drum patterns in to create a basic groove.

Example 6 and 7







Example 6 AUDIO

Example 7 AUDIO


Next month we will look at the Purdie/Bonham shuffle so take you time with these ideas.

Take care and have fun.

James Hester


© James Hester 2008