A Historic Look at Rudiments

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Rudiments are how we speak the language of drums. As budding drummers many, if not most of us, started out by learning how to play rudiments. Once our muscle memory became comfortable we were able to transform them into tools for the drum set. I remember spending hours upon hours working on executing paradiddles and double-stroke rolls. I’m still not nearly as fast as I’d like to be.

The foundation of rudiments can be traced back centuries ago to the Swiss mercenaries who were at their peak during the Renaissance period. As fierce fighters Swiss mercenaries’ battlefield prowess made them highly sought-after troops. Their use of pole-arms (also known as “pikes”) in close formation required cohesive movement while marching. A tabor (hand-played snare drum), was used for marching cadences and to communicate commands in the field. The word “tabor” is an English variant of a Latin-derived word meaning “drum.” These patterns and phrases became the basis for rudimental drumming.

The first instance of a written rudiment goes back to the year 1612 in Basel Switzerland. Rudimental drumming was also extensively used by the French honor guards during the 17th and 18th centuries. The playing of rudiments was perfected during the reign of Napoleon I and became the basis for what is considered the era of modern rudimental drumming.

For many years there have been attempts to create a formalized standard listing of rudiments. According to their encyclopedia entry “The National Association of Rudimental Drummers, an organization established to promote rudimental drumming, put forward a list of 13 essential rudiments, and later a second set of 13 to form the original 26. In 1984, the Percussive Arts Society reorganized the first 26 and added another 14 to form the current 40 International Drum Rudiments. Currently, the International Association of Traditional Drummers is working to once again promote the original 26 rudiments.”

The most popular rudiments are the single-stroke roll, double-stroke roll, diddles, paradiddle, drag and flam. Each pattern utilizes a different procedure for control. The most prevalent use of rudiments is found in drum corp. Today there are four main Rudimental Drumming cultures: Swiss Basler Trommeln, Scottish Pipe Drumming, American Ancient Drumming, and American Modern Drumming.

Here are the Standard 26 American Drum Rudiments:

Thirteen essential rudiments:

  1. The Double Stroke Open Roll
  2. The Five Stroke Roll
  3. The Seven Stroke Roll
  4. The Flam
  5. The Flam Accent
  6. The Flam Paradiddle
  7. The Flamacue
  8. The Drag (Half Drag or Ruff)
  9. The Single Drag Tap
  10. The Double Drag Tap
  11. The Double Paradiddle
  12. The Single Ratamacue
  13. The Triple Ratamacue

Second thirteen rudiments:

  1. The Single Stroke Roll
  2. The Nine Stroke Roll
  3. The Ten Stroke Roll
  4. The Eleven Stroke Roll
  5. The Thirteen Stroke Roll
  6. The Fifteen Stroke Roll
  7. The Flam Tap
  8. The Single Paradiddle
  9. The Drag Paradiddle No. 1
  10. The Drag Paradiddle No. 2
  11. The Flam Paradiddle-diddle
  12. The Lesson 25
  13. The Double Ratamacue

More recently, the Percussive Arts Society added 14 more rudiments to extend the list to the current 40 International Drum Rudiments.

Last fourteen rudiments:

  1. The Single Stroke Four
  2. The Single Stroke Seven
  3. The Multiple Bounce Roll
  4. The Triple Stroke Roll
  5. The Six Stroke Roll
  6. The Seventeen Stroke Roll
  7. The Triple Paradiddle
  8. The Single Paradiddle-Diddle
  9. The Single Flammed Mill
  10. The Pataflafla
  11. The Swiss Army Triplet
  12. The Inverted Flam Tap
  13. The Flam Drag
  14. The Single Dragadiddle

For additional examples see:

40 examples and full notations

Videos depicting all 40 rudiments

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2 Comments

Filed under Drums and Drumming

2 responses to “A Historic Look at Rudiments

  1. Mike Mitchell

    I believe that the rudiments are extremely important, have you seen the book that was written by D. Mark Agostinelli ? Its called “The Drum Rudiment Bible” It has over 500 rudiments in it. He also has a few other books that he has written on the rudiments. Check it out on Amazon.

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