Let’s briefly talk about rudiments. I know this is a touchy subject for some drum set players who feel they are unnecessary but I maintain that rudiments are the foundation of all drumming. As one who has a drum line background I can attest to the challenges of playing rudiments effectively and the hours I spent practicing them. I’m still working on them. In my opinion, having a basic understanding of the simplest patterns and rolls are absolutely essential to being a well-rounded musician.
My favorite rudiment is the Paradiddle. According to the definition “When multiple Paradiddles are played in succession, the first note always alternates between right and left. Paradiddles are often used to switch hands. Paradiddles are a quick succession of drumbeats slower than a roll.” The Single Paradiddle (RLRRLRLL) is the 16th drum rudiment in the Percussion Arts Society standard list of Drum Rudiments. There are also two variations to the single paradiddle. The first inversion is RRLR LLRL and the second is RLLR LRRL. Paradiddles are among the most versatile rudiments as it works well by itself and within the context of drum set playing. One must master the double stroke roll to play this drum rudiment effectively.
All that said Paradiddles are not popular with everyone. John Bonham once said, “It’s all very well doing a triple paradiddle – but who’s going to know you’ve done it?” I hate to contradict the great Bonzo but… The Paradiddle is one of the finest drum rudiments for coming up with great sounding drum beats and fills. Regardless if the audience can specifically identify them as “Paradiddles” they are certainly affected by the rhythms they produce.
Here’s a short Facebook video showing a Paradiddle exercise I like to do for my warm-ups (*you must be signed into Facebook to view). The sequence is single-double-triple configuration and then back again (in reverse). The key is to transition smoothly between each segment. If you were playing on a drum set this would be a dynamic way to move between the snare and toms for a fill. I’m pretty proud of this one…