How do I create midi pattern with shuffle feel

Can anyone tell me the best way to create a midi drum beat with a shuffle feel. I am a keyboard player so I can either play the drums on my keyboard or create them on the drum editor with the mouse. I can create streight beats which I can tidy up using quantise but can’t seem to play with the right precision to get a consistent shuffle feel!

Tons of free MIDI files on the net you could use as a guide to get you going. Once you get the pattern, it’s easy to program.

You could quantize to 8ths, then use the Quantize panel to adjust “Swing”. If the panel has “Auto Apply” enabled you can fine-tune the result in realtime.

If it helps I find it easier in Cubase to set the project time signature to 12/8 for shuffles & quantise to 8ths usually or 16ths rarely.

Dotted quarter note followed by an eight note.

Tempo to taste.


Sorry, no. Might be a sort of shuffle but not classic. What you get there is One - - FOUR, five - - Eight. ( - - = rests or “and”) In an 8/8 bar.
Whereas a strict blues shuffle is : One - three, One - three, One - three, One - three. (“Empty” triplets in 4/4.)

…and both are as dull quantised in a sequencer. The first example is what you get if you put a sheet of jazz music in front of a classical musician ducks, the second is the way a youngster plays it (in any tempo) when he or she has gotten the hang of it for the first time.
vic_france has the key to enlightment, the swing factor, which is that big difference between notes (=approximation) and a real groovy drummer when it comes to swung patterns.
Typically, the slower the tempo, the closer to the first example you get and the faster you go the swing will get more of a triplet feel.


Use the Beat Designer under Midi Inserts. You can record a straight 1/16th pattern, then adjust the Swing percentage to taste. The pattern from the tool can be exported and manipulated in the Key Editor like you recorded it live after

:smiley: Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

What makes it live is not the swing factor but the dynamics. Most drummers don’t play any way like what Cubase or any other “swing” factors do. I’m past master of the shuffle and it’s correct notation. Not to take anything away from Vic France as he’d probably agree with me.
The swing feature has maybe one or two places where a drummer would say “OK, that sounds like a guy I heard play shuffle once.” but everywhere else sounds lumpy and unmusical.
And if it’s just notation you want then the 12/8 will get you to where it looks easy to read for a performer.
Play in a band and if that shuffle isn’t on the money (ie: lumpy) you don’t get the gig.

You’re absolutely correct and of course no single factor makes the whole difference, my argument was based on looking at the rhythmics as an isolated thing. To elaborate further, even a midi pattern with well “emulated” dynamics hard quantized - swing factored or not - won’t sound like a groovy drummer since it totally lacks “dynamic rhythmics”, the subtle conscious and consistent deviations in timing that varies with every other factor of the musical situation. Being a big band drummer myself I’ve had much time to experiment with swing factor and it’s very rewarding once you figure out just how much it matters. Now swing is swing and shuffle is shuffle, but they’re close enough to make the point valid, imho at least :slight_smile:

Hm. On consideration, although nothing has changed in my above opinions I would say that the Swing feature in Cubase is, arguably, better used on instruments other than drums where there is a swing or shuffle beat.
Because it is the drummers subtle corrections of ensemble drifts that give the beat yet another character. Giving the illusion of letting the movement surge and then reining it in.