Last month we explored different sticking patterns within quintuplets and septuplets to make learning subdivisions easier and clearer, and we concluded with paradiddles that yielded polyrhythmic phrases within our quintuplet and septuplet groupings. In this lesson we’ll expand upon those concepts with more rudiments.
Let’s start with a paradiddle-diddle. Exercise 1 places this six-note figure into a 16th-note groove. When the pattern feels comfortable, try playing the second right-hand accent on the snare. The two right-hand accents yield a two-over-three polyrhythm, and the kick drum solidifies the 3/4 pulse.
Exercises 2 and 3 place a paradiddle-diddle sticking into quintuplet and septuplet subdivisions, giving us five-over-six and seven-over-six polyrhythms, respectively. Since we’re playing a six-note grouping that’s one note longer than our quintuplet subdivision in Exercise 2, the accents shift through the quintuplets one partial at a time per beat. This exercise is great for isolating any problematic quintuplet partials that you might need to spend extra time practicing.
In Exercise 3, the paradiddle-diddle groupings are one note shorter than the septuplet subdivision, so it feels like the groove is shrinking as the accents shift one partial earlier per each beat. Just as in Exercise 2, every partial of the odd grouping is accented individually throughout one measure.
Exercises 2 and 3 can uncover any glitches in your quintuplet and septuplet phrasing. For example, if you’re having trouble getting the third partial of the septuplet to sit right as an accent—which occurs on beat 5 of Exercise 3—practice beats 4 and 5 as an isolated example, as demonstrated in Exercise 4. You can loop these two beats to help solidify the rhythm before playing the full pattern.
If you’re having trouble with a specific beat in these examples, it can be helpful to concentrate on the preceding beat that leads up to the problem. Sometimes an almost unnoticeable fumble leading up to a figure can be a bigger challenge than the beat itself.
Next let’s check out the five-stroke roll. First we’ll place it within 16th notes. Our right and left hands will alternate between the floor tom and rack tom on every third 16th note, and we’ll play doubles on the snare on each of the two 16th notes between the tom accents. This pattern creates a four-over-three polyrhythm.
When we employ a quintuplet subdivision, things start to get interesting. As we saw in Exercise 2, the following pattern accents each partial of the quintuplet individually. If you haven’t tried playing doubles in quintuplets before, practice this on a pad first. Start by playing straight quintuplets for a few bars, and then while maintaining the same motion, add in the double strokes. Spend time counting and feeling the double-stroke roll as quintuplets before trying to add the tom accents.
We can also accent polyrhythmic groupings with flams. With flam taps (Exercises 7 and 8), we have a two-note phrase. Swiss Army triplets and alternating flam triplets (Exercises 9–11) give us a three-note phrase. And four-note phrases can be created with flammed paradiddles (Exercises 12 and 13). We can create these groupings with other flam rudiments, of course, and we can stretch the phrases out with combinations of each. For now, let’s just focus on these three ideas.
Flam taps sound great when they contrast with the pulse. Because the rudiment is two notes long, they fit well within any odd subdivision. Exercise 7 first explores this with 8th-note triplets, resulting in a three-over-two polyrhythm.
In Exercise 8 we’ll incorporate quintuplets and displace the accented flam to start on the second partial instead of on the downbeat. Once this feels comfortable, add quarter notes on the bass drum and accents on beats 2 and 4 to turn this into a twisted, flammed train beat.
Exercises 9–11 explore three-note flam rudiments within 16th notes, quintuplets, and septuplets. We’ll start with Swiss Army triplets because the sticking repeats every three beats—this should give you one less aspect to think about while exploring these accent patterns. Once that feels comfortable, you’ll have great fun going through these examples while leading with your weak hand. The sticking pattern reverses on repeat in Exercises 10 and 11 with the alternating flam triplets.
Finally, we’ll explore flammed paradiddles. To add a melodic element, we’ll orchestrate the primary note of the flam on the toms. Let’s start with 8th-note triplets, as shown in Exercise 12. This phrasing sounds especially interesting when we’re playing quarter notes with the bass drum and splashed hi-hat. Exercise 13 incorporates quintuplets.
It’s important to remember that in all of the examples in this lesson, the bass drum or hi-hat foot maintains the pulse. Your hands play patterns that contrast with that foundation, and as such, their accent patterns need to feel like syncopations of the pulse. If your perception starts to shift to where you’re hearing the pulse in the hands with offbeat rhythms in the feet, stop to correct yourself. Count out loud to get the feel of the quarter-note pulse back, and then try again.
Next time we’ll explore flam rudiments further—and more aggressively, in a metal framework.
Aaron Edgar plays with the Canadian prog-metal band Third Ion and is a session drummer, clinician, and author. His latest book, Progressive Drumming Essentials, is available through Modern Drummer Publications. For more information, visit the product page here.