Nine Over Two

Part 2: Sticking Variations

by Bill Bachman

In this article, we’ll continue working with the nine-over-two polyrhythm from last month by varying it with four different stickings: singles, “puh-duh-duhs” (RLL), triple strokes, and paradiddle-diddles. All of the exercises will incorporate an accent pattern leading into the nine-note grouping that outlines how the stickings are to be phrased within the polyrhythm. (The dotted quarter note gets the pulse.)

We’ll start with single strokes. It may help to put slight accents on the quarter-note triplets within the nine-note groupings at first so that you can keep track of where you are. However, you should ultimately strive for perfectly even free strokes.Nine Over Two 1

Next is the “puh-duh-duh” sticking (RLL). The leading hand should play evenly spaced free strokes across the bar, while the hand playing the low diddles should use a pumping forearm motion with finger control.

Nine Over Two 2

The third sticking is triple strokes. Strive to make them sound perfectly even. You don’t want three notes that bounce down in a decrescendo. Use quick finger control to add velocity to the second and third beats of each triple stroke.

Nine Over Two 3

Our final sticking is the paradiddle-diddle. The accents within the nine-note grouping now fall on the half-note triplet. Use the accented half-note triplet pattern in the bar before the nines to feel your way through them. Focus on the initial accent of each paradiddle-diddle relative to the downbeats. If you know your paradiddle-diddles well, your muscle memory should take care of playing the inner beats evenly.

Nine Over Two 4

Bill Bachman is an international drum clinician, the author of Stick Technique (Modern Drummer Publications), and the founder of For more information, including how to sign up for online lessons, visit


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