Funky Paradiddle Ostinatos

By Wally Schnalle Originally Published in DRUM! Magazine's June 2007 Issue

This month’s column completes an exploration we started in a July, 2005 (issue #109) column entitled “Harmonic Hand Ostinatos.” (An ostinato is pattern of notes that is repeated over and over.) In that lesson we created ostinatos with the paradiddle sticking (see Ex. 1A). Here we are going to complete the mission by using all of the paradiddle inversions (see Ex. 1B, 1C, and 1D). Learn these stickings well, as the vocabulary will serve you in a myriad of musical situations.

In the first measure (A) of each of the following exercises we orchestrate one of the paradiddle inversion stickings between the snare drum and hi-hat, which creates a linear ostinato in the hands. In the following three measures in each exercise (B, C, and D) we have the right hand’s ostinato pattern remaining the same and the left changing with each new measure. Cycling through the rhythms created by the paradiddle inversion stickings is how we get these left-hand patterns. This creates some funky harmonic ostinatos, meaning more than one instrument is sounding at the same time. The bass drum is added on beats1 and 3 to help the patterns sound like grooves, but you should explore more bass patterns on your own. And make sure the ghost notes are really quiet or these will not be funky. Your stick should rise no more than one to two inches off the head.

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Music Editor Wally Schnalle is a drummer, composer, and teacher based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has performed with Eddie Gale, Ernie Watts, and the San Jose Symphony Orchestra. itrhymes.com