The Charleston Rhythm is one of the most-often heard rhythms that you’ve never heard of. It shows up all over the place, from jazz to blues to contemporary pop songs. In this article I teach you all about this fantastic rhythm and how to use it in a wide range of songs you love.
What is the Charleston Rhythm?
The Charleston rhythm is taken from the popular 1920s dance style “The Charleston.” Here is a video of Josephine Baker dancing the original Charleston.
The Charleston rhythm consists of a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note.
We count the Charleston like this:
The Charleston is played with both straight eighths (in a pop song or ballad) and swinging eighths (in a jazz or blues context), so make sure to work on it both ways.
Here are some examples of how to use The Charleston Rhythm:
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Free Fallin' by Tom Petty is a great example of The Charleston Rhythm at work. The first half of the groove is this rhythm!
Kiss by Prince has a strong Charleston vibe throughout the song. In this tutorial, I teach you some cool jazz piano voicings and we use the Charleston groove throughout. A very cool arrangement!
Moondance by Van Morrison is another great example of The Charleston Rhythm at work. This whole arrangement has a jazz piano throwback to it. Check out how I put it all together!
Want to see how to use The Charleston Rhythm in a jazz context? In this tutorial, I teach you the basics of jazz, which includes one of my favorite comping figures. You guessed it - The Charleston!
As you can see, The Charleston Rhythm turns up all over the place. What are some songs you know that use this great rhythm?
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