Discovering Rhythms Inside the Paradiddle

Open-Handed Playing 1Besides being one of the most popular rudiments, the single paradiddle is a good example to illustrate the overlap between linear and rudimental drumming, and it’s great for working on an open-handed approach (right hand on the snare and left hand on the hi-hat, or vice versa if you’re left-handed).

The following sixteen building blocks are all derived from paradiddle stickings. The first and third columns substitute one part of the sticking with the bass drum.

Open-Handed Playing 2

The next steps are to come up with combinations of those building blocks and to add some dynamics. To do this, use patterns from the fi rst and third columns of the building blocks for counts 1 and 3 of a 4/4 groove, and patterns from the second or fourth column for counts 2 and 4. Almost any combination sounds interesting. Here are two options.

Open-Handed Playing 3

Inverted paradiddle variations can be combined in ways to imply the different Afro Cuban clave rhythms. Here’s one that outlines a 3-2 son clave.

Open-Handed Playing 4

Here’s one that outlines a 2-3 son clave.Open-Handed Playing 5

This combination has hi-hat accents that imply a Brazilian partido alto pattern.

Open-Handed Playing 6

Start slowly, play with a click, and maintain the openhanded position. At first, combine just two blocks: A and B, C and D, E and F, and so forth. Then expand the patterns by combining four building blocks of your choice. Use the generated patterns as grooves or as one-bar fills. You should also experiment with dynamics by applying ghost notes and accents. Create some patterns of your own and write them down. And be sure to use both straight and shuffled 16thnote feels. For more on the topic, check out the book

Open-Handed Playing, Vol. II: A Step Beyond (Alfred Music Publishing), which I wrote in collaboration with Dom Famularo. Feel free to contact me through if you have any questions. Enjoy the journey!

Claus Hessler is an active clinician in Europe, Asia, and the United States. He has written three books: Open-Handed Playing, Vol. I; Open-Handed Playing, Vol. II: A Step Beyond; and Daily Drumset Workout. For more, visit