The Paradiddle

We all have our favorite rudiment. My personal favorite is the paradiddle. I just love the feeling and flexibility of it. A paradiddle consists of two single strokes followed by a double stroke, i.e., RLRR or LRLL. When multiple paradiddles are played in succession, the first note always alternates between right and left. Therefore, a single paradiddle is often used to switch the “lead hand” in drumming music. It is also common to accent the first stroke of each diddle (Rlrr Lrll).

For a little history, the word “paradiddle” is probably of an imitative origin. The history of these words (if taken apart) is: “para” (which means “beside” or “beyond”). It was spoken by people of Greece starting about 1000 B.C. and “diddle” (which means to “move with short rapid motions”) and is of unknown origin. In percussion, a “diddle” consists of two consecutive notes played by the same hand (either RR or LL).

Some songs that prominently feature the paradiddle are “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly, “Vaseline” by Stone Temple Pilots, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane and “You Fool No One” by Deep Purple.

Mark Feldman over at Big Bang Drum School has generously posted a 100-page PDF of Advanced Paradiddle Exercises by Dave Tough. Tough was a drummer who was active from the 20’s through the 40’s. He played with swing bands including those of Artie Shaw and Woody Herman. You can read Tough’s bio over at Drummerworld. Tough’s approach to teaching the paradiddle is outlined in the Foreword of his book:

“I have designed this book for the advanced student who has a knowledge of the rudiments of drumming. The book deals with the three forms of paradiddles – single, double and triple, each form represented and mixed in each of the two hundred exercises. This will assure him of improved coordination, technical development and fluency of sticking in his practical day to day playing. It will be invaluable to the individual, while practicing these exercises, to play two or four foot beats to the bar. To my knowledge, this is the only book published that is devoted entirely to varied paradiddle exercises. In conclusion, I have found that too little time is devoted to the practicing of varied combinations of paradiddles, and it is my sincere hope that this book will prove to be an aid in acquiring a well-rounded system of drumming.”

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