Rudiments & drumset application

BillBachman

Gold Member
This started out as a response to another post, but I think it may be useful in starting a discussion on its own:

With my background you might think that I'd be preaching rudiments, rudiments, rudiments, but here's my take on it:

For a drumset player, it's really not about the rudiments, it's about the individual hand motions within the rudiments that you'll use on a regular basis outside of the rudiment's context. If the purpose of learning a rudiment was to then orchestrate it verbatim around the kit, I'd probably blow it off, it's too much work for too little return. While some rudiments are of course brilliant in their direct application, a high percentage of them will be futile in terms of drumset application, either too much of a stretch musically, or redundant in their hand motions.

This is where my "Top 12 Rudiments" list comes in, (both from my Stick Technique book & drumworkout.com). If you can play all 12 of those rudiments well at all tempos then your hands will be equipped with every last motion & technique that you'll need to play anything else. You really don't need the PAS 40 rudiments and tons of hybrids beyond that, just a well rounded technical tool kit. (For that matter the 40 rudiments themselves barely equip you with all of the necessary hand motions.)

That said, learning tons of rudiments can only be a good thing as they'll give you more vocabulary to speak with. The more you have to say (and/or CAN say) on one drum, the less reliant you may be on using many different voices to create the interest musically. So rudiments are good, but learning ALL of them with the idea of directly applying them to the kit is not the fast track to sounding great on the kit or most effective way to go about it in my opinion.

Thoughts?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Great topic Bill. I'm barely qualified to comment here, but that won't deter me lol.

I see rudiments in a few different ways. One view is rudiments are like a runner running in sand. Doing things that are harder than what you normally play, so when you do play, you have headroom, and your playing seems well within your limits. (not your playing Bill, talking generally)

Another view is rudiments teaches me the language of drumming. Things I probably wouldn't have figured out on my own.

There are a few rudiments that I play verbatim, like 4 stroke ruffs. I played 4 stroke ruffs long before I knew that I was even doing a rudiment. I probably would have never figured out paradiddles on my own. So the rudiments expose you to the long history of what the greats studied. They are really useful in that they get you thinking in terms you wouldn't likely do on your own. They are a door every drummer is better off after they go through it.

Most of the really essential rudiments come naturally in the course of playing music with others anyway. 4 stroke ruffs, single strokes, doubles, flams, 6 stroke rolls. It's nice to know what you're doing as opposed to not having a clue what is coming out. The more you can articulate your drumming into words....the deeper of an understanding you're likely to have. Rudiments to the rescue.

Rudiments....and studying drums in general.... helps drummers transform into musicians. That would be my point here, provided the drummer gives them their due diligence.

The combination of great hand technique that you teach Bill, and the study of rudiments and their applications IMO are essential tools. A person who has these are just better equipped to play drums IMO.

The execution is where these great tools come into play, but you still have to have something even greater...something indescribable...a sense of music!....to really be effective.

Because in the end, it still comes down to how a person feels music. Having a complete mastery of the rudiments can mean nothing if a person is stiff and uninspired.

For me, music is all about tapping into...and hopefully capturing...the dizzying range of human emotion. Rudiments are great tools to help facilitate that, they are not the destination.

Some of my best feeling drumming is so dead simple, that it seems stupid to practice double ratamacue flam taps. It's so not. The better you can nail hard stuff....the greasier your "simple" stuff sounds.

A guy like Bill Ray is a great example of that.
 
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tcspears

Gold Member
I think that's the key for drummers that exclusively play drum set. You might not use the actual rudiments (or you may not be aware that you are), but you learn technique and control through your use of rudiments. A great example is bouncing; you might never <i>need</i> to bounce your sticks when playing set, but it'll make it much easier once you can bounce rather than play two distinct strokes.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
It makes perfect sense to me, Bill, not that I'm an authority.

So here's a barely-related question I'm going to force into this thread, because you're here, and I would love to get your take on it: What was the original purpose of the paradiddle sticking?

It turned out great for drum set application, but how did it come to be in the early years of rudimental drumming? How was it advantageous over accented singles? I've never read a definitive answer. Maybe there isn't one.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
So here's a barely-related question I'm going to force into this thread, because you're here, and I would love to get your take on it: What was the original purpose of the paradiddle sticking?

It turned out great for drum set application, but how did it come to be in the early years of rudimental drumming? How was it advantageous over accented singles? I've never read a definitive answer. Maybe there isn't one.
For the most part I think paradiddles (& that little rudiment family) are simply logistic rudiments in order to change sides. They do also allow you to pop out bigger accents within an even stream of notes, but I think their primary purpose is logistics.

Good question!
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
For me, music is all about tapping into the dizzying range of human emotion. Rudiments are great tools to help facilitate that, they are not the destination.
I couldn't possibly agree more. My schtick is to train everything carefully and thoroughly and max out the toolbox so that you can then get lost in the musical with more than enough technique to play anything that comes to mind. If you're thinking about technique when you play, it probably sounds that way. (Sad face)
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Bill:
I mostly agree with you on this.

Many years ago I learned how to play the drum set using rudiments. I practiced playing the rudiments on the drum set while listening to music. This helped me learn how to apply rudiments to the drum set using them with different grooves and drum fills incorporated into various song structures.

However, I might add that at the time I did this there were only 26 rudiments and I was only using the original 13 rudiments. I also used a couple of the second set of 13 rudiments that I found useful.

(And I agree with Larry.)

.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
For the most part I think paradiddles (& that little rudiment family) are simply logistic rudiments in order to change sides. They do also allow you to pop out bigger accents within an even stream of notes, but I think their primary purpose is logistics.

Good question!
Thanks, Bill! That seems like the most plausible thing to me, too, for what little that's worth.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
It makes perfect sense to me, Bill, not that I'm an authority.

So here's a barely-related question I'm going to force into this thread, because you're here, and I would love to get your take on it: What was the original purpose of the paradiddle sticking?

It turned out great for drum set application, but how did it come to be in the early years of rudimental drumming? How was it advantageous over accented singles? I've never read a definitive answer. Maybe there isn't one.
When I was learning 18c drumming, I was taught that paradiddles served two purposes:

1. It allows the accented downbeat to be played with the same side of the body as the step. i.e. left hand accenting with left foot
2. Also, by playing a double, it allows the opposite hand to raise higher in preparation for an accented stroke.

I have several drum manuals from the 17th and 18th century, and I've never seen this in writing, I've only heard it word of mouth.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
The point that I often see missed is that everything a drummer plays is already composed of rudiments, whether the drummer knows it or not. In the same vein, everything a guitarist/pianist plays is composed of scales, and everything a speaker orates is composed of grammar and vocabulary.

I've always perceived musicianship to be a holy trinity of sorts. You need technique, you need coordination, you need musicality. For a drummer, this equates to something like 'stick control, hand/feet, grooving/taste'.

I joined DrumWorkout for 2 months and will probably join again once I have the bandwidth. It was a godsend for my hand technique, and the lessons carry over nicely to hand/feet since all that is really necessary is to play samba/biaon/whatever under the essential rudiment workouts.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
When I was learning 18c drumming, I was taught that paradiddles served two purposes:

1. It allows the accented downbeat to be played with the same side of the body as the step. i.e. left hand accenting with left foot
2. Also, by playing a double, it allows the opposite hand to raise higher in preparation for an accented stroke.

I have several drum manuals from the 17th and 18th century, and I've never seen this in writing, I've only heard it word of mouth.
Awesome. Thanks, man. The ease of accenting coming out of the diddle aligns with what Bill said. I wondered about the changing of accent from l to r for the purpose of visuals, but I hadn't considered the much more logical connection to matching the step of marching feet.
 
G

Ghostnote

Guest
For me, rudiments are about internalizing hand motions until they are second nature. The point is not to be like, "OK, for this fill I'm going to play two paradiddles followed by three flam accents..." Its more like having a bunch of motions on lock so you can have them pop out in a sort of stream of consciousness sort of way.

At the beginning of the Bop movement, horn players used to practice little 3 and 4 note runs over and over again for hours so that, without thinking about it, they could string them together when soloing at tempos that they were not used to playing. I think of rudiments in the same way.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
For me, rudiments are about internalizing hand motions until they are second nature. The point is not to be like, "OK, for this fill I'm going to play two paradiddles followed by three flam accents..." Its more like having a bunch of motions on lock so you can have them pop out in a sort of stream of consciousness sort of way.
Eggs-act-ly !


.....
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Bill's post is right on the money when it comes to drumset. The only thing I'll add to that is that drumset playing uses a lot of unison strikes. If you're playing a basic rock beat your hand might be synchronized with the bass drum or snare more than 50% of the time. But if you're just playing rudiments on the snare, unison strikes are kind of frowned upon.

Sometimes you hear the analogy that the 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments are like the 26 letters of the alphabet. If so, when Steve Gadd plays a paradiddle groove, is he just going U-U-U-U-U-U-U-U? No, he's telling a story and painting a picture with motion and groove with that simple pattern. If they are considered letters, I would say they're more like calligraphy, not a typed character that makes up a word and a sentence. Each stroke has importance and weight on its own.

8Mile asked about the origin of paradiddles. And I believe Bill is right again that it's simply a pattern to change sides and to a lesser extent pop out accents "within an even stream of notes". But on a subtle note, certain movements do create a different feel, even if the rhythm is technically the same. Inverted rudiments (paradiddles, flam taps, etc.) create a contrasting feel when you play them against their original form.

tcspears
When I was learning 18c drumming, I was taught that paradiddles served two purposes:

1. It allows the accented downbeat to be played with the same side of the body as the step. i.e. left hand accenting with left foot
2. Also, by playing a double, it allows the opposite hand to raise higher in preparation for an accented stroke.

I have several drum manuals from the 17th and 18th century, and I've never seen this in writing, I've only heard it word of mouth.
This dials the original intent even closer, I think. Anything to make it easier to play and march while you're dodging cannonballs! (On a side note, I would be interested in the manuals you have. I have a copies of the Ashworth book and Benjamin Clark's as well, but that's about the oldest one).
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
The rudiments sound too euro-centric and busy to my ears, only really suitable when you want to play each and every beat. From what I've seen the only thing that vaguely resembles the rudiments outside of Europe+North America, are some of the samba stick techniques, but even then they use one handed technique, rim shots, presses. Some of the timbale techniques resemble rudiments, but I think you would be better off practicing rim shots, cascara and clave.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
The rudiments sound too euro-centric and busy to my ears, only really suitable when you want to play each and every beat. From what I've seen the only thing that vaguely resembles the rudiments outside of Europe+North America, are some of the samba stick techniques, but even then they use one handed technique, rim shots, presses. Some of the timbale techniques resemble rudiments, but I think you would be better off practicing rim shots, cascara and clave.

Really?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yeg6kEH5MOA

Or this "euro-centric" cat (answer to the 3rd question in):
http://joebrazilproject.blogspot.com/2012/04/interview-with-elvin-jones.html

Or this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq4GROZ4j7s

This gentleman would practice snare rudiments on the conga:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIpD0xiAm7s

And a while back I was at a Brazilian drum clinic with Alberto Netto who demonstrated rudiments (like Lesson 25) as they naturally applied to many different rhythms.

Yes, each of these players (except for Alberto) is from North America. But my point is, that rudiments in their traditional, square exhibition form is only one layer of the onion.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Really?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yeg6kEH5MOA

Or this "euro-centric" cat (answer to the 3rd question in):
http://joebrazilproject.blogspot.com/2012/04/interview-with-elvin-jones.html

Or this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq4GROZ4j7s

This gentleman would practice snare rudiments on the conga:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIpD0xiAm7s

And a while back I was at a Brazilian drum clinic with Alberto Netto who demonstrated rudiments (like Lesson 25) as they naturally applied to many different rhythms.

Yes, each of these players (except for Alberto) is from North America. But my point is, that rudiments in their traditional, square exhibition form is only one layer of the onion.
Sure it's out there. I guess I'm saying you could skip the square form with no loss of generality. If that cascara was indeed a Latin cascara(it sounded awfully paradidly to me), just practice the cascara no need to practice the standard paraflafla, it always sounds out of place. You can always say look if you start on the y of X and end on the ah of Z, then swing it and play the accent as this or that, it is a rudiment. But, I am saying if you practice the straight old rudiment, then play the rudiment, it will sound like that one layer of the onion that is a square exhibition.
 

TMe

Senior Member
If you can play all 12 of those rudiments well at all tempos...
I've never understood what rudimental drummers mean when they say "at all tempos". Does that mean playing a rudiment from a very slow speed to one's quickest speed? If so, do you recommend using different metronome settings, or practicing gradual acceleration and deceleration?
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Sure it's out there. I guess I'm saying you could skip the square form with no loss of generality. If that cascara was indeed a Latin cascara(it sounded awfully paradidly to me), just practice the cascara no need to practice the standard paraflafla, it always sounds out of place. You can always say look if you start on the y of X and end on the ah of Z, then swing it and play the accent as this or that, it is a rudiment. But, I am saying if you practice the straight old rudiment, then play the rudiment, it will sound like that one layer of the onion that is a square exhibition.
Certainly you can skip the "square form", since so many of the players of that music have never played it. And I'm sure Chuck Silverman's video of applying paradiddles to the Cascara was just to demonstrate the idea. It can be as stiff or flowing as you want to take it. Maybe there isn't a loose, flowing example of that, that you would like, which is why I posted the comment from Elvin. I can't imagine a looser, freer or more dynamic player in jazz. He would practice rudiments 8 hours a day. Other players like Roy Haynes apparently weren't into them as much and are just as Great. But at first listen, I would have thought Roy was the rudimentalist because he's so crisp. In fact he once said he approaches the set like a timbalero would. Two different approaches; one transmitted rhythms spontaneously to the instrument and made music at the highest level. The other took rudiments in their traditional form, mastered them and then transformed them into music at the highest level.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you only practice the straight old rudiment to certain point, or if you've only heard it played to a certain point, you will dismiss it as only being able to get to one layer of that onion (the "square exhibition" pattern). Again, it may not be necessary to immerse yourself in it to play some kinds of music. But I think they have a tremendous untapped potential if you look deep enough.
 
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