Pondering The Paradiddle

By Wally Schnalle Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine's April 2010 Issue

Recently I was working with a student on paradiddles and a multitude of variations when he looked at me and asked, “What am I supposed to do with these?” Fair enough. New rudiments can sometimes seem a bit like book learnin’ and not like something you’d actually use. So I sat down at the drum set and played a myriad of possibilities that employed the basic paradiddle sticking pattern, which is shown here in Ex. 1.

His eyes widened and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I want to do!” Then I explained to him that the paradiddles he just witnessed me playing contained three of the most basic elements of drumming: the single stroke, the double stroke, and the accent. And this rudiment is just one way of using those elements.

Once we learn it well enough it becomes part of our drumming vocabulary. Then we can employ it in many ways. The idea is not to think, “I’ll use a paradiddle here.” But rather, to have a large vocabulary with which to express your musical ideas in a natural way. Exs. 25 are just a few ideas to spark your creativity and get you thinking of ways to use the vocabulary you have as a drummer. Ex. 2 uses the paradiddle for a fill. Ex. 3 uses it in the hands over a funk bass pattern. Ex. 4 creates a hard-driving rock beat with the paradiddle played between the bass and snare. And lastly, Ex. 5 plays the paradiddle again between the bass and snare in a jazz setting.

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