Part 3: Sextuplet Groupings and the “Pu-Du-Du”
This month we’re going to modify our eights and sixes exercise with some “pu-du-du” stickings and paradiddle-diddle variations. A pu-du-du is onomatopoeia for a RLL sticking with the accent on the lead hand, and the paradiddle-diddle is found in the Percussive Arts Society’s list of forty standard rudiments. As always, when practicing the exercises in this series it’s imperative to set your metronome to an 8th-note subdivision, tap your foot, and count straight 8th notes out loud throughout all of the examples.
First we’ll play pu-du-dus within sextuplets. All of the 8th notes in both parts of the exercise should be played as high and loose rebounding free strokes, and be sure not to change the motion of the leading hands as you transition from measure to measure. The diddles should be played low and light using finger control with what I call a “drop/catch” or low “alley-oop” motion. With these techniques, you should utilize a wrist stroke on the first beat of the diddle while the fingers catch the stick on the second. Pulling the stick into the palm on the second stroke adds velocity so that it can match the first stroke. At faster tempos, the wrist can get stressed out playing doubles, so relieve it by pumping the forearm to attack the diddle on the second partial of the triplet. Whether the diddle is initiated with the wrist, the arm, or a combination of the two, be sure to maintain finger use and play the second note of each diddle low and light. You want to maximize contrast between the diddles and accents.
Next we’ll invert the pu-du-du into a “du-du-pu,” or RRL sticking. We want to maintain an accent on the first beat of the double stroke, but at most tempos there’s not enough time to play a strict downstroke on the first beat of the double before the following low tap. We’ll instead use what I call the “no-chop flop-and-drop” technique so that some of the energy from the accent will flow into the following tap in a natural decrescendo. Your fingers can help steer the rhythm, but don’t use your fingers in a way that would support or add velocity to the following tap. At faster tempos, the forearm’s pumping motion should be used on the doubles in order to relieve the wrist.
Next we’ll check out another variation, the “du-pu-du,” in which the lead hand plays a shuffle pattern. The previous inversions have only one accent, but for this sticking it’ll be more practical to have two so that we can smoothly shuffle through it. Be sure to use the alley-oop wrist and finger motion on the diddles, in which the first beat is a higher and lighter stroke played mainly from the wrist, and the second is a lower, faster stroke played mainly by the fingers. Don’t just bounce these double strokes or play them tightly. As you count an 8th-note subdivision out loud, make sure that the second beat of each diddle that falls on the off beat 8th notes is played as strongly as the first. The hand that plays the middle triplet partial should stay low and light.
In these next exercises we’re going to modify the 8th-note subdivision with different components of the paradiddlediddle. The first sextuplet of each phrase will start with a paradiddle-diddle, followed by a series of diddles throughout the rest of the sextuplets. The extended low diddles should all be played low and light with the drop/catch approach, just like the low diddles in the pu-du-dus earlier. The 8th notes will be played with a modified triplet rhythm, with an accent followed by a low diddle, and we’ll vary this 8th-note figure as well.
When playing these rhythms at slow to medium tempos up to about 120 bpm, strive to play strict and concise downstrokes with clearly defined stick heights. Think about the downstrokes pointing down toward the drumhead at a 10-degree angle and the low diddle coming up to about parallel to the drum or pad. Also make sure that there’s complete separation between the downstroke and the following low diddle. Utilizing an American grip with the hand at a 45-degree angle and the thumb on the topside of the stick is the most effective approach for concise downstrokes. In this position, not only can you squeeze the back end of the stick into the palm, but you can also hold the front of the stick down with the thumb. By using both the palm of the hand in the back of the hand and the thumb in the front, you have twice as many ways to stop the stick faster so that you can play lower and looser.
At faster tempos in which there’s less time to control the stick, stop the stick less. Now some of the accent’s energy will flow smoothly into the following diddle with the no-chop flop-and-drop technique. There’s less impact on the accents since they have to flow into the taps. Strive to maintain decent stick height on the accents, but don’t play them too loudly. The no-chop flop-and-drop technique should also be developed at slow tempos—it as well as the strictly separated downstroke with clearly defined heights are beneficial and can be utilized in many musical settings.
Bill Bachman is an international drum clinician, the author of Stick Technique and Rhythm & Chops Builders (Modern Drummer publications), and the founder of drumworkout.com. For more information, including how to sign up for online lessons, visit billbachman.net.