Almost every drummer practices the rudiments—with sticks. If you’re serious about learning how to use brushes, why not also practice the rudiments with them? This article deals with just that. I guarantee that with some practice, you will be able to sweep (not hit) any rudimental solo using brushes.
In order to sweep all of the rudiments, you first have to understand the structure of each one. The basic building blocks of the rudiments involve double strokes, single strokes, flams, and drags, so we’ll focus our attention on those core elements.
In part three of this series (February 2012), we covered the linear motion, which is the best one to begin with when working on the rudiments. (Of course, you can sweep each rudiment with circular and half-circular motions too.) To avoid having to draw too many diagrams, I’ve notated the direction of the sweeping motion. The right hand is notated above the staff, and the left hand is notated below. I suggest beginning your practice by sweeping with each hand on a different sound surface. This allows you to check the motion of the hands separately, to avoid mistakes.
For this rudiment, hold the brushes using French grip (thumbs on top), so your wrist is free to maximize its horizontal movement. Each hand does a little acceleration stroke inward and then outward.
For this rudiment, use a linear motion and hold the brushes so that the hands sweep in a V shape. (The right hand sweeps the right side of the V, and the left hand sweeps the left side.)
Using that same motion, you can now play metered rolls, like the five- and nine-stroke.
The single paradiddle is a combination of two single strokes and one double stroke. When you play paradiddles with your right hand on a tom and left hand on the snare, you get a natural backbeat happening. Just add the bass drum on beats 1 and 3 to complete the groove.
The double paradiddle is a perfect rudiment to create a 6/8 feel. Mess around with adding some accents on the hi-hat (played with your foot) and bass drum to create new rhythms.
FLAMS AND FLAM TAPS
For flams and flam taps, I like to use a half-circular motion. Experiment with the other motions to discover the most comfortable way to play these rudiments.
Practice playing the ruff with an open (32nd note) interpretation, as well as with an unmetered closed one.
LESSON 25, DRAG PARADIDDLE #2, AND TRIPLE RATAMACUE
Here are three more rudiments involving drags that you can sweep with the brushes.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with these rudiments, try learning a short rudimental solo, like anything by Charley Wilcoxon, using brushes. I also suggest incorporating the brush rudiments into your daily workout.
Be sure to check out the free video posted at moderndrummer.com so you can see how to sweep the rudiments and also how to use them in grooves.
Florian Alexandru-Zorn is an international drum clinician and freelance drumset player in Germany. He is the author of the acclaimed book The Complete Guide to Playing Brushes (Alfred Publishing).