In The Pocket

Funk Drumming Training Camp

Part 2: More Paradiddles and Musical Bass Drum Patterns

by Mike Adamo

In part one of this series (May 2013 MD), we talked about the importance of developing a tight, solid, feel-good groove. Things you can work on to tighten up your playing include gaining an intimate knowledge of the feel of every 16th-note subdivision, improving your coordination, having a strong internal clock, using dynamics, and practicing concepts that take you outside your comfort zone and expand your boundaries. This month we’ll continue developing these ideas by expanding on the exercises from the previous installment.

As in part one, the basis of this lesson is the paradiddle and its three inversions, broken up between the hi-hat and snare. However, this time the bass drum patterns are more musical and groove oriented. Practice these patterns with a metronome and also with recorded music. It doesn’t matter if the drummer on the recording is playing a different pattern from the one you’re practicing. Work on picking up the feel, swing, groove, pocket, and vibe of the drumming on the recording, and apply it to the exercise you’re practicing.

You can also practice this lesson in conjunction with the Click Track Loops from pages 162–173 of my book, The Breakbeat Bible. Practice at a variety of tempos (40–180 bpm is a good range). Don’t forget to start slowly, and be sure to get comfortable with the patterns before you increase the tempo. Also make sure your playing is tight and all the limbs are perfectly aligned. This is why it’s beneficial to start slowly—you can really home in on how tight you’re playing and not just simply go over the exercise at a quicker tempo.

It’s also beneficial to record your practice sessions, as well as live performances. Often, the things we play sound different while we’re playing them. In the moment we tend to observe our playing very subjectively, meaning we listen to it based on our emotional inner experience rather than pure fact, whereas a recording device observes our playing objectively. If you listen back to recorded versions of your practicing and playing, you can get a clearer understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. The more you do this, the more you can close the gap between subjectively and objectively observing your drumming. You can then use this increased listening skill to make any necessary adjustments to your groove and feel while you’re playing.

Here are the paradiddle variations for this lesson. Pay careful attention to the accents and ghost notes within the snare and hi-hat patterns. They will help you develop the dynamic aspect of your grooves, while adding more depth and flavor to the exercises.
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Here’s the first set of bass drum patterns. Letters A–H are a little more basic and contain various 8th-note-based rhythms. To practice these, start by playing example A with the first paradiddle example. Once you can do that comfortably twenty times in a row, move on to example B, and so on. After you’ve mastered A–H with paradiddle 1, move on to the next paradiddle variation and repeat the entire process.
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Here’s the second set of bass drum patterns. These are a little more intricate. Practice them exactly as before, until you can play each of them twenty times in a row with all four paradiddle variations.
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Here’s the third set of bass drum patterns. These also focus on 16th-note subdivisions, but they include many instances where two 16th notes are played in a row. Practice them in the same manner as before.
Funk Drumming Training Camp 5You can get a great bass drum workout by practicing patterns that feature three or four 16th notes in a row. Here are two examples.
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You can also analyze the bass drum patterns from some of your favorite grooves and play them with the paradiddle exercises from this lesson. For example, here’s the bass drum pattern from “Ain’t Sayin Nothin’ New” by the Roots, with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson on drums.
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Here’s the bass drum pattern from “Love Slip Up on Ya” by the Meters, with Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste on drums.

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Incorporate the patterns and concepts from this lesson into your practice routine for a few weeks, and you’ll start to notice an improvement in your groove, timing, feel, and pocket. Even if you’re playing a basic funk beat, your awareness of the 16th-note subdivisions will be heightened. Until next time!

Mike Adamo currently plays with 13 Kings, the Truth Cartel, the King Tide, and several other Northern California–based bands. He’s also an active producer and educator, and he’s the author of the critically acclaimed instructional book The Breakbeat Bible (Hudson Music). For more info, visit and