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What does "shuffle done right" mean or refer to in the passage?

Do yourself a favor. Go to YouTube and search for ‘‘Magic Slim Goin’ to Mississippi Blind Pig 2011.’’ The video shows blues fundamentalist Magic Slim recording a song with his band, the Teardrops, in the warehouse of his record label two years ago. He was still going strong then at age 73, despite chronic heart and lung ailments. In the video he plays a straight blues shuffle, the kind of thing played every day by millions of musicians all over the world. But it’s a shuffle done right, a form lastingly codified in the 1950s during the golden age of Chicago blues and perfected by Magic Slim over the course of a musical lifetime. And a shuffle played right is a truly satisfying — and deceptively rare — thing. (New York Times) Carlo Rotella

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  • Not any attempt at an answer, just some background from a musician. It is generally held as 'true' amongst musicians that there are a thousand ways to play a shuffle or swing - any style where the notes have an uneven timing, somewhere between straight 8s and triplets - 'wrong' and very few ways to play it 'right' [correctly]. Humans are very poor at diving by 3 perceptually, so this 'skill' of being able to subdivide by something 'not quite three' raises a lot of opinion. It's also believed that classical musicians are the worst at this & jazz musicians the best. Oct 25, 2023 at 7:42
  • One disparaging comment made about this inability to shuffle or swing is characterised by the phrase, "He couldn't swing from a rope." Much of this is characterised by nothing more definitive than 'feel'. It has nothing you could measure mathematically. A good musician in this genre just 'knows' when it's right & a poor one doesn't know when it's wrong. Oct 25, 2023 at 7:49
  • "done right" = "performed properly" Oct 25, 2023 at 12:03

2 Answers 2

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It simply means a shuffle that has been done the right way.

A "shuffle", in this context, means:

3 c (1) : a rhythm where each beat of the measure is played as a triplet with the first and second parts of the triplet tied and the third part accented
(2) : music played in a shuffle rhythm

So it means a piece of music that has a shuffle rhythm, and that is played the right way.

The context doesn't say what "the right way" is to play a shuffle.

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...he plays a straight blues shuffle, the kind of thing played every day by millions of musicians all over the world. But it’s a shuffle done right, a form lastingly codified in the 1950s during the golden age of Chicago blues and perfected by Magic Slim over the course of a musical lifetime. And a shuffle played right is a truly satisfying — and deceptively rare — thing.

The shuffle is one way to play the guitar to create a special feel.

shuffle

The shuffle is a specific eighth note rhythmic feel. It is based on triplets rather than dividing the beat in half in a strait eighth note rhythm.

shuffle done right just means that the player does it right/correctly.

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