Respecting the Fundamentals (Part III): The Power of the Paradiddle

One of the first rudiments I ever learned was the paradiddle. The paradiddle is very simple: RLRR LRLL. It can be taught to young students in a matter of seconds but, with all its combinations and permutations, can take a lifetime to master. Every pipe band drummer knows what a paradiddle is and how to play it. It is truly one of the most important and useful rudiments. The paradiddle has many uses and most pipe band drumming students have seen the following six paradiddle based rudiments during their playing careers:



The Five Add-ons

Most drummers with any experience are familiar with what I call the Five Add-ons: Accents, Flams, Drags, Double Bounces and Dead Sticks. The Add-ons immediately create more of a challenge and can also be placed on the different notes of the paradiddle increasing the difficulty level for advanced students.The Add-ons are an excellent tool to improve stick control and facility. A drummer who masters basic paradiddles and every variation of the Add-ons will be able to play virtually any sticking combination in an advanced drum score.




Reading from left to right:
  • Basic Paradiddles
  • Accented Paradiddles
  • Flam Paradiddles (Flam-a-diddles)
  • Drag Paradiddles (Drag-a diddles)
  • Double Bounce Paradiddles (the slash below the first note indicates an open double bounce should be played instead of a single note)
  • Dead Stick Paradiddles (Dead-a-diddles)



The Importance of Recognition

The sticking combinations produced by Five Add-ons alone presents a ton of work for any pipe band drummer. However, most of the paradiddle exercises I've seen use only groups of four straight sixteenth notes found only in the round reel. Therefore, students don't always recognize paradiddles when they are played in other styles such as the march or jig. If a pipe band drummer can recognize a paradiddle they can play it much more easily. Even dot/cut paradiddles can be confusing to young drummers if they haven't seen them in their early exercises. Here's what dot/cut paradiddles look like in a basic march:




Now here's what paradiddles look like in a jig--totally different and much harder to spot. A four note rudiment set against a three note 6/8 grouping always throws off beginning students. If a student has the awareness to recognize the passage below is simply six paradiddles it suddenly becomes much easier.




When faster paradiddles are required in a jig, they appear as two-thirds of a triplet as in the example below:





Hidden Paradiddles


Sometimes paradiddles are very hard to recognize, especially when they are spread out across different rhythms. The exercise below is excellent for intermediate to advanced drum corps as the rhythm of each paradiddle is unique.



Here's another example of back to back paradiddles spread out across different rhythms--again, not for beginners. For an even bigger challenge, try the using Five Add-ons and enjoy the crazy combinations that result!





Offset Paradiddles

Sometimes paradiddles can be hard to identify if they are written "offset" or "over the beat". Below are several examples taken from the Round Reel style. Notice that the paradiddles don't start on the beat. Instead they start on the "and of 1" or the "off beat".




Offset paradiddles can also be found in the jig style. They are sometimes tough to pick out because the four note paradiddle is written within a note grouping of three or six.





For Instructors

This post is really just the tip of the iceberg and serves only as an introduction to this versatile rudiment. When teaching paradiddles always keep the following guidelines in mind:
  • Don't use straight sixteenth notes exclusively in your paradiddle worksheets. Instead, try writing out paradiddles in all five of our drumming styles: 2/4 March, Jig, Round Reel, 6/8 March and Strathspey so that students may identify them in their drum scores more easily.
  • Incorporate the Five Add-ons
  • Quiz students often to help recognize paradiddles in their exercises and drum scores

Paradiddles are incredibly useful rudiments. I hope you enjoy working with them as much as I do!

Happy Drumming!

Z
 

2 comments

  • Kevin M

    Kevin M Halifax

    Very interesting - will have to explore some of these! Pretty much have only played them straight with a few add ons. Doubling them up is also good sport. RLRLRR LRLRLL and then add your accenting or add ons.

    Very interesting - will have to explore some of these! Pretty much have only played them straight with a few add ons. Doubling them up is also good sport.
    RLRLRR LRLRLL and then add your accenting or add ons.

  • Pipe Band Drummer

    Pipe Band Drummer

    I totally agree Kevin. Adding double and triple paradiddles as well as paradiddle-diddles to the mix will quadruple the possibilities... and the fun :-)

    I totally agree Kevin. Adding double and triple paradiddles as well as paradiddle-diddles to the mix will quadruple the possibilities... and the fun :-)

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