27 Apr, 2016

Paradiddle Variations


Ask any drummer to think of a rudiment and most likely it will be the Single Paradiddle that first comes to mind. The word is pretty much synonymous with the term "snare drum rudiments". I remember the first time it was demonstrated to me on the counter of my local drum shop when I was just a kid. “You don’t know what a paradiddle is?” the shop keeper exclaimed. Although embarrassed to admit it, I wasn’t quite sure what was so special about this simple little sticking. “Why do I need drum lessons if this is all you're going to show me?” I arrogantly thought. Well, 20 years on I've certainly realised how it opens doors to so much of drumming...

Being able to play a paradiddle on a shop counter—or any other counter for that matter—won’t make you a great drummer. But understanding what you can do with it is like stepping into the magic wardrobe and finding yourself in Narnia. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but you could certainly call it the ABC of drumming. 

The paradiddle is simply a set of single strokes (pa-ra) followed by a double stroke (did-dle) i.e. RLRR or LRLL. It’s often used as a method to switch your “lead hand” by adding a double stroke to a continuous flow of single strokes. By doing this you change which hand falls on the beat. This way you can take an unexpected turn in your fills, solos or even grooves.

What isn’t talked about as much is the variations you can create out of the Single Paradiddle, which I believe demonstrate how useful this rudiment really is. We can make 3 variations of the Single Paradiddle by beginning a division later each time. Firstly on the "ra", then the "did" and finally the “dle”. 

  • Ra-did-dle-pa
    The first variation is sometimes called the “Inward Paradiddle” or “Inverted Paradiddle”. Here the “diddle” (double stroke) is sandwiched between the single strokes. When played as 8th notes the second stroke of the “diddle” lands on the beat.
  • Did-dle-pa-ra
    The second variations begins with the “diddle” and is sometimes called the “reverse paradiddle”. This is because it can be thought of as a paradiddle played backwards. Like a Single Paradiddle the “diddles” fall on the beat when played as 8th notes.
  • Dle-pa-ra-did
    Finally, the third variation begins on the second of the “diddle” strokes when played as 8th notes. This variation doesn’t have a name so I like to call it the “outward paradiddle” because the diddle is now split either side of singles. This variation isn’t so common but it has a lovely effect.

Once we begin adding the bass drum on the beat these variations they become a fantastic work out for your independence as well. Playing the bass drum on the second "diddle" is a lot more difficult than you'd initially expect. Take your time with it, this may take a few goes, but it's worth persevering with as it will do wonders for your technique!

Try playing these variations between two different drums or cymbals, or try playing the “diddles” on one drum and the singles on another. Listen to the effect this has. Can you come up with any other ways of playing these around the kit? Let me know by leaving a comment below! Better still, make a practice video and upload it to the Drumadiddle Facebook page. Remember to tag your videos #WarmUpWednesday!