The single paradiddle is an extremely popular rudiment and can be used in all styles of music. It is the simplest way possible of combining singles and doubles using both hands. The paradiddle consists of two singles and two doubles (RLRR LRLL and is a great way to start learning how to combine single notes (RLRL) with double notes (RRLL).
Here is the single paradiddle written in its simplest and most common form. I have written it in 1/8th notes but it can, of course, be played through any subdivision.
The Standard Single Paradiddle
I have written the exercise so that the Right hand parts are played on the Hi-Hat and the Left hand parts on the snare drum. This is so you can hear what the different hand parts sound like when played together.
All the notes should be evenly played and all at the same volume; the temptation is to play the first note of each four notes loudly. When trying to play the paradiddle evenly it helps to play both hands on one drum source (such as the snare drum), this allows the ears to notice any differences between the hands. If you close your eyes while playing this on the snare drum it should sound like a single stroke roll (RLRL) i.e. all notes even and at the same volume. This is harder than you might think!
The paradiddle can be used within drum beats, as drum fills or used in a drum solo. What drummers will often do is break up the paradiddle into smaller chunks (RLRR) and play these little combinations of the paradiddle rather than a whole bar of RLRR LRLL. You won’t hear the whole paradiddle played in its entirety very often but it is this combination of single and doubles that make it a great tool to break up and place in any combination the drummer chooses.
The next three exercises are the same single paradiddle but simply moved along one note at a time. This simple idea, using the same sticking, allows the paradiddle to totally change its sound without the drummer having to learn any new stickings. It’s just a case of starting the paradiddle at a different point within the line of notes.
Variation 1 – The Inverted Paradiddle
This version of the paradiddle gets its own name and is most commonly called the Inverted Paradiddle. There is a lot of confusion amongst drummers as to whether the next variations shown below are also called “Inverted” paradiddles but you can take it from me that when the term “inverted paradiddle” is mentioned most drummers think of this variation.
It is my personal favourite as the single stroke part of the paradiddle flows into the down beat. For a really cool drum set application try placing the right hand over the floor tom and the left hand over the high tom for the single stroke part of the rudiment and play the doubles on the snare drum.
Variation 2 – The Backward Paradiddle
This is simply the paradiddle played backwards; starting with the doubles.
Variation 3 – The Broken Double Paradiddle
I have made up this name myself as the variation hasn’t actually got its own name. This is the least popular version of the single paradiddle due to the way the doubles flow into the downbeats.
Most drummers are trained to feel every four notes through 1/8th’s, 1/16th’s and 1/32nd notes as a downbeat. This variation when played through these subdivisions has the second note of the double landing on the perceived downbeat and so feels awkward and uncomfortable. This is only because it is probably the least practiced variation but, if mastered like the rest, not only feels comfortable but can also sound awesome!
Moving The Paradiddle Around The Drum Kit
The next three exercises show some of the most common ways the single paradiddle is split over the drum kit. For simplicity and ease of practice I have only used the standard paradiddle sticking (RLRR LRLL) but the ideas being shown can be applied to all four sticking variations.
Single Paradiddle Around The Drum Kit – Variation 1
This is the most common and simplest way of applying the paradiddle to the rest of the drum kit. Obviously the tom-toms I have chosen can be replaced with any drum/cymbal of your choice. It’s easiest to start with this version though as the floor tom is easiest to hit with the right hand and the high tom with the left.
Single Paradiddle Around The Drum Kit – Variation 2
This version plays both of the single notes on different toms while the doubles are placed on the snare drum.
Single Paradiddle Around The Drum Kit – Variation 3
The single notes are now placed on the snare and it’s the doubles that are played on the corresponding toms.
I encourage you to memorise these three variations and to then play them next to each other without stopping. Eventually you should be able to instinctively move your hands to toms within the single or double part of the paradiddle without hesitation or effort. Try to move in and out of the three variations randomly – see how they allow the freedom to move the hands to different drums.
The next step is to try applying the same drums to the same parts of the paradiddle for all four sticking variations shown at the start of this lesson (Inverted, Backwards etc.) – the possibilities are practically endless.
Paradiddle Drum Fills – Using Various Stickings/Sound Sources
The next three exercises show just how much mileage can be gained from the paradiddle if mixed up and played around the drum kit. I have written these exercises in 1/16th notes but any subdivision can be used.
These are just some examples within the multitude of variations possible and it is up to the drummer to come up with their own. What drummers will often find happening is that the sticking variations they practice the most tend to be played more frequently. The more sticking variations practiced the bigger vocabulary the drummer will have available to them.
Single Paradiddle – Drum Fill 1
Here is a cool idea that can be applied to all the paradiddle variations. The singles within the paradiddle are played on the crash cymbal with the bass drum. It adds an extra dimension to the possibilities. The standard sticking has been used for this drum fill (RLRR LRLL).
Single Paradiddle – Drum Fill 2
The first half of the drum fill uses the “Inverted Paradiddle” sticking while the second half uses the standard sticking.
Single Paradiddle – Drum Fill 3
This drum fill helps to show just how the paradiddle stickings can be messed around with and at the same time, just how many possibilities there are. The sticking used is one half of the “Backward Paradiddle” (RRLR) with one half of the “Inverted Paradiddle” (LRRL). The first half of the bar uses the tom-toms while the second half incorporates the crash cymbal and bass drum shown previously.
I hope that this lesson has shown just how versatile the paradiddle can be. The number of variations is almost endless but don’t let this daunt you. It is up to you what and how many sticking patterns you learn and how you use them around the kit. Simply start with the standard sticking and take it from there, explore for yourself how you can use the sticking to move around the kit and come up with your own ideas.