Lessons in paradiddles for drummers
Paradiddles can add a fun and unique sound to your drumming. We’re going to explore how to spice up paradiddles and move them from the practice pad onto the drum kit. A paradiddle is two single strokes then a double stroke. When paradiddles are played after each other, the first note of each paradiddle alternates between left and right. Read more about the basics of paradiddles in “Paradiddle Mania“.
When drummers start out they spend a lot of time perfecting paradiddles on the practice pad. The paradiddle is a useful rudiment for development of technique, coordination and stick control. For a lot of drummers that is where it will stay, on the practice pad. They don’t make the effort to work on this rudiment on the drum kit. However having solid paradiddles on the drum kit can help your playing immensely and can be a whole lot of fun. There are plenty of cool and creative ways to apply paradiddles on the drum kit.
Changing the accents of paradiddles can create a new sound and different feel to the same sticking pattern. Here is a simple yet great exercise in accent control. Practice playing the accents on each successive note.
(R) L R R – (L) R L L
R (L) R R – L (R) L L
R L (R) R – L R (L) L
R L R (R) – L R L (L)
* The notes in bold brackets are accented.
After getting this exercise solid on your practice pad, move it to the snare drum.
Now that you’re on the drum kit, play the accents on the toms. For example, play your right hand on the low tom and left hand on the high tom – ONLY where the accented note occurs. Notice the last two examples are a “split doubles” exercise.
Tip: Be sure that there is a distinct difference between loud and soft notes. Keep them smooth and even. Remember that proper execution is always more important than speed.
Another way to adapt from the practice pad onto the drum kit is to use “inverted paradiddles”. These are permutations (variations) on the paradiddle which are created by starting from a different point in the bar.
Instead of R L R R L R L L we could start from the second note (the left hand) and get L R R L R L L R. Following that logic there are 8 ways of playing the pattern – move along one note and start the pattern from the new place.
On the drum kit:
Play a kick drum or stepped hi hat (or both together) constant pulse.
On the snare drum, play the standard paradiddle, then work your way through the other 7 permutations.
Next, choose 2 different “voices” on the drum kit – it could be low tom and snare, or high tom and mid tom – you choose). Run through the 8 patterns whilst maintaining a solid pulse underneath.
Tip: Practice with a metronome. If you don’t own one, online metronomes are available such as atmetronomeonline.com. If you have a smartphone you almost certainly have a metronome app!
Here are all 8 paradiddle permutations:
R L R R L R L L
L R R L R L L R
R R L R L L R L
R L R L L R L R
L R L L R L R R
R L L R L R R L
L L R L R R L R
L R L R R L R L
Paradiddle combination exercise
Now that we’ve tried out accents within paradiddles and also the various permutations, let’s combine the two ideas. This will create “accented paradiddle permutations”!
Follow the examples below for some ideas of the direction you can take this and explore creative ideas on the drum kit. When these are flowing and comfortable you should feel the ideas infiltrate into your fills.
The first bar is written just on the snare drum. The second bar is the same with the accents moved to the toms.
As always, we’re only just scratching the surface of this topic, but it should give you a good head-start in ways to develop paradiddles around the drum kit.