Strictly Technique

Paradiddles For Three Drums

by Louis Delpino

This article is intended to give jazz and rock drummers a means of exploiting to the fullest degree the application of paradiddles around the standard 3 drum outfit: snare, small tom-tom and large tom-tom. The following definitions are essential to understand how the accompanying exercises may be combined to form paradiddle variations around the drums.
1) PARADIDDLE UNIT: The traditional single paradiddle, played either RLRR or LRLL.
2) PARADIDDLE SET: Two units played with alternating sticking, either RLRR-LRLL or LRLL-RLRR.
3) PRIMARY UNIT: The initial unit of a paradiddle set.
4) SECONDARY UNIT: The closing unit of a set.
Strictly Technique April 78 1There are 27 ways in which a basic unit can be played around the three drums. UNIT SERIES A, shows the 9 possibilities starting from the snare drum. UNIT SERIES B, shows the 9 possibilities starting from the small tom-tom. UNIT SERIES C, shows the 9 possibilities starting from the large tom-tom. Variations of sets are formed by combining the same or different units. A total of 729 unique sets may be achieved this way, and by combining sets a virtually infinite array of extended patterns can be generated for breaks, fills, or solo playing.Strictly Technique April 78 2
Strictly Technique April 78 3Many sets resulting from combinations of various units not only sound good but may be played at rapid tempos with a minimum of physical exertion. Others are extremely awkward and do not “lay” well with respect to cross-sticking. An example of this problem is seen in C-9, which goes smoothly as a primary unit with RLRR sticking but poses difficulty when the sticking is reversed in order to repeat C-9 as the secondary unit. Another example of an awkward set is the combination C-6/C-9.

In any event, the point is not to be able to play all 729 possible sets with equal dexterity and speed, but rather to master those combinations which lie within your own technical capability. The best way to profit from these exercises is to play each basic unit a number of times, using both RLRR and LRLL sticking, at a tempo you find comfortable. This will help you develop a feel for moving around the drums, and for determining whether “over” or “under” cross-sticking is most suitable for playing specific difficult patterns. Speed will increase naturally with practice, and in time you will be able to play extended paradiddle phrases without having to formulate them consciously.

The following 12 measures illustrate just a few of the ways in which units may be combined. In addition to playing each measure repeatedly as a separate exercise, play the 12 combinations straight through down the page as well as across.
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