There are 4 drumming paradiddles that will make your drum fills feel and sound great. In fact, I think these are only 4 basic paradiddles you need to know. In this article, I’m going to share these hand patterns and why they are so powerful for your drumming.
What is a drumming paradiddle?
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Have you noticed a lot of hype online around paradiddles? Well, there are two good reasons for that. drumming paradiddles are easy to learn and easy to use.
A paradiddle is a combination of single and double strokes. The most basic combination is RLRR LRLL. In drumming, there are endless combinations of singles and doubles in straight and triplet note groupings.
This combination of singles and doubles is what makes paradiddles so popular and versatile for your drumming. There are of course straight-note and triplet-note paradiddles. I have found that for the straight-note paradiddles, there are 4 that will get you loads of mileage on the drum set.
Paradiddles on drums
From way, way back in the old days of drumming, we’ve been using paradiddles. I think paradiddles are perfection.
The blend of singles and doubles doesn’t wear out our arms like when we play only singles or doubles for long periods of time. That same blend also lets us add accents in interesting places to create rhythmic melodies.
Easily create Rhythmic Melodies with paradiddles
When I play drum fills, I think of rhythmic melodies. These are rhythmic phrases that sound almost like melodies on the drums. They can be played on one part of the drum set at at time (like snare drum) or around the drums.
I like to think melodically when I’m drumming because rhythmic melodies allow me to complement whatever music I’m playing. If I only think of a static hand pattern like a basic paradiddle RLRR LRLL, I’m kind of limited in what I can play to fit the music.
Instead, I blend paradiddle patterns in creative ways using my ears to match the music. This means that I can match the character of the music I’m playing with every drum fill I play. That’s the power of rhythmic melodic playing.
This is a Jazz drumming concept and I’m a Jazz drummer first and foremost. Even so, the rhythmic melodic concept can be used in all styles of music. Next I want to share with you 4 drumming paradiddles that can help you play rhythmic melodies on your drum set.
The 4 best drumming paradiddles
So here are the 4 best paradiddles:
How to play paradiddles
The first step is to practice each paradiddle variation slowly on the snare drum and gradually work up your speed. Focus on the rebound you get from the accents to help pull you through the rest of the notes.
If you need help learning to get rebound in your drumming, check out my blog post about the Moeller Technique.
One very important thing is to make your non-accented notes as quiet as you can. I mean REALLY quiet. There needs to be a HUGE contrast in volume between your accented and non-accented notes.
Next, you’ll want to stitch each of the paraddidles together so you can play them consecutively from first to last and last to first. Finally, stitch them together any way you want.
Also try combining half phrases. For example, try playing the right hand paradiddle from the first exercise and the left hand paradiddle from the third exercise, RLRR LRRL.
If you have worked out of the Stick Control Book by George Lawarence Stone, this may look familiar. Its a great book and I also recommend you get it to improve your drumming paradiddles.
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The Stick Control effect
I used the Stick Control book in my younger years as well as one of Stone’s lesser known books, Accents and Rebounds. It’s a real chops builder for sure!
Using those two books for years led me to the 4 best drumming paradiddles I am sharing in this article. I came to realize that from these 4 paradiddles, I can create almost any rhythmic phrase I want on the drums.
My recommendation is that you pick up both of the books above to improve your hands. My 4 drumming paradiddles are like a summary of the first few pages of Stick Control.
The inverted paradiddles
Inverted paradiddles have a special place in my drumming. Of the 4 paradiddles I shared, the third one, is an inverted paradiddle and gets the most use on my drum set.
It allows you to get into a rhythmic flow and move your hands effortlessly around the drums. The inverted paradiddle is incredibly useful for short 2-beat or 1-measure drum fills.
You an easily sneak it in between parts of your drum grooves. Like the other 3 paradiddles, the inverted paradiddle works in almost any style of music too.
Paradiddle for beginner practice
With all of the patterns, start out on your snare drum. Once each pattern feels comfortable, go ahead and start putting your hands on different drums and cymbals. Be sure to keep playing the exact same sticking and accents.
Use a metronome and try starting at about 30-40 BPM. For every click of your metronome, play 4 notes. It will be challenging in the beginning but you will gradually feel more and more comfortable moving each of the 4 paradiddles around the drums.
Music without drums for practice
After you’re good practicing with the metronome, start practicing the exact same way with backing tracks for drums. Be sure to get some practice tracks that have actual musicians on the recordings.
Quantized (digitized) music will be of little use to you because playing with real musicians will help you make subtle adjustments in your playing to match the other musicians’ playing.
I’ve created some great drum practice tracks that will help you improve your paradiddles and overall drumming. You can listen to all of them here at vonbaronmusic.com.
Our goal is to play music not paradiddles
We always have to remember that music is our compass. Playing music through the drums is our goal. Learning paradiddles is simply a means to an end.
It is not going to be enough to master the pattern. You also need to master playing the pattern in the context of music.
I feel that so many of the drumming exercises out there are focused on memorizing precise drum fill, sticking and coordination patterns. That’s often where the learning stops.
The problem with that approach is that there is disconnect between the practice room and the stage. How do you really use specific sticking patterns in specific musical contexts?
Well, most of the time, you don’t. Music comes at you fast on stage and you have to be able to predict and react to what the other musicians are playing in a split second.
Check out my article about how to listen when on stage. This will help you connect your drumming to what the other musicians are playing.
A more effective approach is to blend various sticking patterns in musical ways. That’s why these 4 paradiddles will help you tremendously as they have me.
When I figured out that these 4 were the best drumming paradiddles, my whole approach to playing drum fills changed. I became infinitely more musical and went from playing stock drum fills to actually expressing musical ideas.
Play paradiddles with sticks and brushes
So here’s where it gets even more musical. Play these 4 drumming paradiddles with your drum brushes too. If you don’t have a pair of brushes, the link to my favorite brushes is below. I’ve used them for years. You can check out the blog post about my brushes too.
Here’s also a short video where I show you how I use paradiddles in my drum brushes playing.
The drumming paradiddle is an easy pattern to master. The 4 paradiddles I’ve shared in this article will give you loads of flexibility in creating interesting and musical drum fills. They’ll also stoke your drumming creativity.
Learn these 4 paradiddles and your drumming will start changing. Your thinking about drumming will also change. Rhythmic melodies will flow from your sticks and brushes and you’ll be able to use these patterns all across your drum set.
Try out my 4 recommended drumming paradiddles. Take them for a test drive. If you decide to go deep and really integrate them into your playing you just might start to see more playing opportunities coming your way too!
Do you use a lot of paradiddles in your drumming?
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