There are only 4 basic paradiddles you need to know…Really. Have you noticed a lot of hype online around paradiddles? Well, maybe there’s a good reason for that.
A paradiddle is a combination of single and double strokes. The most basic combination is RLRR LRLL. In drumming, there are nearly infinite combinations of singles and doubles in straight and triplet groupings of notes.
This is what makes paradiddles so popular and so versatile in the world of drumming. I have found that for the non-triplet grouping paradiddles, there are 4 that will get you the most mileage on the drumset.
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 don’t get tiring like when we play only singles or doubles for long periods of time. That blend also lets you 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 drumset voice at at time (like snare drum) or around the drums.
I think melodically 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 100% of the time, 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 approach as I am a Jazz drummer first and foremost. Even so, the rhythmic melodic concept can be applied to all styles of music.
The 4 best paradiddles for your drumming
So here are the 4 best paradiddles:
The first step is to practice each paradiddle variation slowly on the snare drum gradually working up the speed. Focus in on the rebound you get from the accents to help pull you through the rest of the notes.
If you need help with learning to get bounce in your drumming, check out my blog post about the Moeller Technique.
One very important thing is to make your non-accented notes as soft as you can. I mean REALLY soft. 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 top to bottom and bottom to top. Finally, stitch them together any way you want. Also, try playing only half phrases.
For example 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 recommend you get it to improve your drumming.
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 paradiddles I am sharing in this post today. I came to realize that from these 4 paradiddles, I could create almost rhythmic phrase I want on the drums.
My recommendation is that you pick up both of the books above to improve your hands. I also want you to know that if you focus on my 4 best paradiddles, you will achieve similar results quickly.
The goal is music
We have to always remember that music is our compass. Playing music through the drums is our goal. I feel that so many of the drumming exercises out there are focused on memorizing precise fill patterns, sticking patterns 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.
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 paradiddles, my whole approach to playing drum fills changed. I became infinitely more musical. I went from playing stock sticking patterns around the drums to actually expressing musical ideas.
For a demonstration of what I mean, see my video below. I play each of the 4 paradiddles and then play musical phrases mixing them together.
Play the Paradiddles with sticks and brushes
So here’s where it gets even more musical! Play them 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 of me playing the 4 best paradiddles with brushes.
I want you to be playing super musical phrases for all of your drum fills. Trust me on this my friend. Learn these 4 paradiddles and your drumming will start changing. Your thinking about drumming will also change.
Try out the 4 best 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!
Keep on practicing during this challenging time. Stay safe and KEEP ON DRUMMIN’!
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