The distinguishing feature of Boogie Woogie is the driving eight beat rhythm carried by the left hand. This must never stop but surges on as a foundation for counter rhythms in the right hand. Swing, however, lies in the right hand, which concerns itself with playing "around the melody"; the left hand usually carrying a simple accompaniment.
In Boogie Woogie the structure of the bass patterns is built up from the tones of chords based on the Tonic, Subdominant and Dominant and their inversions. In the right hand Boogie Woogie seems to have a preference for major seventh and ninth chords, the minors being reserved for "blue notes".
It will be noticed that there are many seeming dissonances in Boogie Woogie: for example a D sharp in the left hand against a D natural in the right hand. This is not a deliberate harmonization but rather a by-product, albeit a common one, of the rhythm. This rhythm being due, of course to the constant repetition of groups of 4 quarter notes (occasionally) or 8 eighth notes (characteristic) to the measure, the right hand moving about meanwhile. Thus, the dissonances are really frequent passing tones.
Boogie Woogie is never played "slow". It ranges in tempo from medium to fast. So also with dynamics - it is seldom, if ever played "soft", but varies from medium-soft to loud. Thus nuances and tempi are seldom marked in this form of music. Now don't go to extremes and race away and pound the keys. Use a good firm touch and keep it moving.
Syncopation almost always occurs in the right hand against a regular beat in the left hand in popular music. The essence of syncopation is the accent on a weak beat. Now all rhythm has normally strong and weak beats. March time - 4-4 time - has the accent on the first and third beats, thus - ONE, two, THREE, four, - LEFT, right, LEFT, right. This is similar to Fox-trot rhythm. (Waltz time is ONE, two three, etc.) If the beats are divided into eighth notes, it is counted ONE and Two and THREE and Four and, etc. the numbers being stronger than the "ands". But if we put the strength or accent on the two and four - one, TWO, three, FOUR, - or on the "ands" - one AND two AND three AND four AND - we then have syncopation. Observe carefully all TIED NOTES. TIES are one of the commonest ways of getting a strong effect on a weak beat.
True Boogie Woogie is not easy. Its playing requires a high degree of technical training. However, there are many "fans" who do not have this technical equipment, or who are in the course of acquiring it. Therefore, this volume is dedicated to the multitude of Boogie Woogie devotees who are learners, from the ages of 6 to 60.