When you think about the humble paradiddle… there’s not really that much to know, is there?

That’s what I thought, and I could never have been more wrong.

I’m guilty of skimming the surface in a lot of areas. Fair enough, we can’t know everything, so I’ve tried to learn a little bit about a lot of different topics. This, apparently is the completely wrong approach to drumming, life, and just about anything else I can think of.

It is far, far better to know a LOT about a few things. This is why experts can call themselves experts.

SO… with this in mind, we are going to take an in-depth study of the lesser-spotted paradiddle. Or, as most people call it, the Single Paradiddle:

Very simple, and most of us will learn this after about one year of tuition. But how well do you know it? How well can you play it? Chances are you might be able to play the sticking, but the accents and articulation are not that great, and possibly non-existent. Here’s your chance to really make it work!

Take some time to play the paradiddle slowly and smoothly, and really focus on creating a clean contrast between the accent and the other three notes.

Use a metronome. I recommend you start at 60bpm  so that you can really make the most of this pattern.

Say it: “PA-ra-did-dle, PA-ra-did-dle”

Count it: “1e+a 2e+a 3e+a 4e+a”

Play the “taps” (normal notes) at about 5cm off the drum head. Don’t throw your weight into the accent. Simply bring the stick up to vertical and drop it onto the drum. it should be so relaxed that it feels like you’re floating. Tension-free. Keep this up until the pattern flows from your hands without a second thought.

Hmmm… almost like meditation, isn’t it? I’ll work on that one. Zen Drumming or something. Leave it with me.

Once you have this mastered, move on to…

The Reverse Paradiddle.

This is simply the Single Paradiddle, but moved over a couple of notes so that you start on the double (“diddle”). This means that the accent is now on the “and” of the beat.

Once again, slow and relaxed, and focus on the contrast between the accent and the taps.

The other two exercises in this series are:

The Inward Paradiddle

and the Outward Paradiddle

When you can play all four permutations of the paradiddle, you will be able to play an accent on any part of the beat. This is a very useful tool for your own creativity. In order to get fully comfortable with these four exercises, here’s a two-bar phrase that incorporates them all:

If you don’t like dragging your computer over to the drum kit, or vice versa, then click here to download the PDF and print it out!

Any questions? Feedback? Leave a comment.

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