Rudiments: Limited tempo range?

TMe

Senior Member
The problem I have with rudiments is that it seems they're only useful within a narrow range of tempo.

Most rudiments have a minimum tempo, below which they're not very useful at all. They also have a maximum tempo, beyond which either a drummer can't play them, or they're so fast they sound like a blur, at least in most musical contexts.

That leaves a narrow tempo range where rudiments have practical application. If your band doesn't happen to play in that range, rudiments are pretty much useless to you.

Does that sound about right?

I'm aware there are indirect benefits of studying rudiments, but that argument says rudiments should be thought of as calisthenics for drummers. That doesn't seem like a terribly strong argument when there are so many other things a drummer could be working on.

Explain how I'm wrong about this.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
That leaves a narrow tempo range where rudiments have practical application. If your band doesn't happen to play in that range, rudiments are pretty much useless to you.

Does that sound about right?

I think you're misunderstanding what a rudiment is. The word rudimentary describes something that is limited to the basics, and that's what drum rudiments are. They are the fundamental patterns, strokes, and techniques that allow drummers to create more intricate and complex patterns.

This is the same way (pretty much) all musicians learn to play their instruments. Pianists, guitartists, bassists, horn players, et cetera all start with scales first as the foundation for playing the instrument.

Everything you play is based on rudiments (whether you realize it or not). That's not to say you're going to play a chorus of paradiddles, but every pattern you play goes back to rudiments. Rudiments are more than just patterns, they also teach you technique and timing, which are critical skills to develop when becoming a drummer.


I'm aware there are indirect benefits of studying rudiments, but that argument says rudiments should be thought of as calisthenics for drummers. That doesn't seem like a terribly strong argument when there are so many other things a drummer could be working on.

What do you mean by "so many other things to work on"? What else could you possibly work on that doesn't tie to your rudiments? This is like a piano player saying that they have more important things to work on than scales...
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Most rudiments have a minimum tempo, below which they're not very useful at all. They also have a maximum tempo, beyond which either a drummer can't play them, or they're so fast they sound like a blur, at least in most musical contexts.

Couldn't you say that about most beats if you played them out of context?

On the one hand, certain key rudiments just happen to be convenient groupings of essential stick motions to help gain facility with sticks.

On the other hand, rudiments connect you to a tradition that spans seven centuries. One that produced signals in the most decisive battles up through modern times. A fantastic literature of dynamic and expressive music which influenced everything from Western classical to jazz to rock. A beautiful geekery of hybrids; a secret club with musters and decoding rings that include Flamacues, Coup de Charge, Reveille Strokes and Shirley Murphys.

There are a hundred reasons you could find that they don't apply to your music. There are a thousand more where you may find it will enrich your outlook on playing.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
The problem I have with rudiments is that it seems they're only useful within a narrow range of tempo.

Most rudiments have a minimum tempo, below which they're not very useful at all. They also have a maximum tempo, beyond which either a drummer can't play them, or they're so fast they sound like a blur, at least in most musical contexts.

That leaves a narrow tempo range where rudiments have practical application. If your band doesn't happen to play in that range, rudiments are pretty much useless to you.

Does that sound about right?

I'm aware there are indirect benefits of studying rudiments, but that argument says rudiments should be thought of as calisthenics for drummers. That doesn't seem like a terribly strong argument when there are so many other things a drummer could be working on.

Explain how I'm wrong about this.

Wrong. Wrong. And wrong.

As was stated, everything you play will be based upon the foundation of the rudiments. Look at them as a means to an end: they help you to facilitate what's in your mind to your hands and feet for execution of a musical idea. If you've ever watched a Steve Gadd clinic where he talks about some of the things he's played over the years, he flat-out tells you that certain things were just rudiments that he'd known all his life. When he split that rudiment up around the drums, it became this really exciting musical thing. Of course it helps that he did it to a wonderfully crafted song, but when he breaks it down for you, and if you know your rudiments well, it's like a "doh" moment and you wonder why you didn't come up with yourself ;)

It sounds to me like you're trying to find a short-cut to playing better and are just lazy enough to not want to spend the time on the rudiments. My advice is this: spend the time, play them at all tempos and dynamic markings, basically get your stuff together so you're prepared to execute. You want to have your technical chops down because when you start working (if you're good enough to start working), you're already going to have enough to deal with from the musical interpretation end, and at that point, nobody wants to wait while the drummer gets his crap together on how to play a certain part for a song. It should just come flowing out of you at that point, and rudiments are one key to allowing you to be able to do that.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
I'll never forget when I stumbled on the intro to "Manic Depression" by Hendrix with the wonderfully wonderful Mitch Mitchell on drums. I wandered onto some instructional videos on how to play the beat but they never broke the intro down so I listened to the original track. It is just a plain ol' 6-stroke roll which I can play all day (RllrrL).

I might have had a tough time with it if I didn't know my rudiments.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
What do you mean by "so many other things to work on"? What else could you possibly work on that doesn't tie to your rudiments? This is like a piano player saying that they have more important things to work on than scales...
There are many other things to practice of course, even if all is related to
rudiments, or scales, somehow.

Have you ever heard a pianist only ever practice scales up and down, and then
suddenly play a funky gospel accompaniment?

Have you ever heard a drummer play a sophisticated groove, or jazz comping,
after only ever having practiced on a snare drum?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I have to disagree with the limited tempo range thing. I feel there is a fairly wide tempo range where rudiments are effective.

You say that rudiments have a minimum tempo, below which they are not effective at all. Not sure I agree with this either, that sounds like an opinion, not a fact.

Another point, that rudiments be thought of as calisthenics for drummers. I can see that. However you could also think of rudiments as words, that you later combine into musical sentences. Think of them as more than a calisthenic and you might see them in a whole different light.

I think the only thing that needs tweaking is your attitude towards rudiments. You don't give them enough credit is the impression I get. Apologies if I am offbase.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I don't understand the limited tempo range thing, either. What is the valid tempo for each rudiment?

I guess if you're talking about a written snare solo, then sure, people aren't playing Crazy Army at 40 bpm. But rudiments form the sticking we use for everything on the drum set, so it's like saying the drum set can only be played at certain tempos.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
There are many other things to practice of course, even if all is related to
rudiments, or scales, somehow.

Have you ever heard a pianist only ever practice scales up and down, and then
suddenly play a funky gospel accompaniment?

Have you ever heard a drummer play a sophisticated groove, or jazz comping,
after only ever having practiced on a snare drum?

But you have to know your scales in order to play that funcky gospel accompaniment. Just like you have to know your rudiments to comp in jazz.

There are other things to practice other than rudiments, but rudiments are the core of your technique and timing. Rudiments aren't just on your snare either, as any good teacher will show you, you can split them up by limb. Sometimes I play through the rudiments with my left hand and right foot, or my left foot and right foot, or any of the possible combinations...

A drummer should have complete control over all of his limbs and be able to control timing and dynamics while playing complex patterns. This comes from practicing the rudiments with all of your limbs. If you can't control the dynamics and timing of a paradiddle , then how are you going to comp against resoltuion points in jazz?

On a lighter note: As far as speed goes, these guys seem to play those triplediddles at a pretty good clip. www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWEXgCUvZvA
 

TMe

Senior Member
It sounds to me like you're trying to find a short-cut to playing better and are just lazy enough to not want to spend the time on the rudiments.

Wrong. I practice rudiments, but they're like calisthenics. Practicing rudiments gives me better control over my hands, which is beneficial when learning other things.

I'm not denying the indirect benefit of studying rudiments. I'm questioning how much direct relevance they have to music outside a fairly narrow range of tempo (or a drum solo).

To what extent are they like playing scales for a piano player, or lifting weights for a hockey player? And is the "limited tempo range" argument valid?
 

TMe

Senior Member
...you could also think of rudiments as words, that you later combine into musical sentences.

More like tongue twisters. They help with enunciation, but they don't come up in conversation very often. ;)

But that's labouring the metaphor.

Couldn't you say that about most beats if you played them out of context?

Exactly. I don't hear many people saying Reggae beats should be played at "all tempos" and have direct application to all music.
 
Last edited:

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
But you have to know your scales in order to play that funcky gospel accompaniment. Just like you have to know your rudiments to comp in jazz.

There are other things to practice other than rudiments, but rudiments are the core of your technique and timing. Rudiments aren't just on your snare either, as any good teacher will show you, you can split them up by limb. Sometimes I play through the rudiments with my left hand and right foot, or my left foot and right foot, or any of the possible combinations...

A drummer should have complete control over all of his limbs and be able to control timing and dynamics while playing complex patterns. This comes from practicing the rudiments with all of your limbs. If you can't control the dynamics and timing of a paradiddle , then how are you going to comp against resoltuion points in jazz?
Yes, but still you have to practice all this other stuff separately as well.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
This again? Really?

Rudiments are an excellent tool for a variety of reasons. They have a direct application to both technical facility AND musicality alike......at any tempo. I can't believe this is actually being debated.........again. It has been discussed at length. Do a search for hours worth of previous thoughts, examples and real life applications on the matter. It'll be a rewarding read and well worth it for you.

Practice them........or don't. It's your musical journey and the choice is completely yours. There's always more than one road that leads to Rome. But for christ sake, don't try dismantle their merits or misrepresent their application because you're blinded by your own limitations or interpretation. At least not on a drum forum, of all places. It creates the appearance of being closed minded and ignorant. Which I'm sure you're not, but there's little doubt that this thread has pangs of the old: I don't personally see the merit, therefore there can't be any connotations about it. :)
 
Last edited:

ronyd

Silver Member
I'll never forget when I stumbled on the intro to "Manic Depression" by Hendrix with the wonderfully wonderful Mitch Mitchell on drums. I wandered onto some instructional videos on how to play the beat but they never broke the intro down so I listened to the original track. It is just a plain ol' 6-stroke roll which I can play all day (RllrrL).

I might have had a tough time with it if I didn't know my rudiments.

Wow, I just learned something here. Trying to find something I can practice my 6 stroke roll to. especially when you love this tune. thankx

One of my other favorites tunes to practice my double paradiddles is Deep Purple with Ian Piace: Chasing Shadows, check it out.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
The problem I have with rudiments is that it seems they're only useful within a narrow range of tempo.

Most rudiments have a minimum tempo, below which they're not very useful at all. They also have a maximum tempo, beyond which either a drummer can't play them, or they're so fast they sound like a blur, at least in most musical contexts.

That leaves a narrow tempo range where rudiments have practical application. If your band doesn't happen to play in that range, rudiments are pretty much useless to you.

Does that sound about right?

I'm aware there are indirect benefits of studying rudiments, but that argument says rudiments should be thought of as calisthenics for drummers. That doesn't seem like a terribly strong argument when there are so many other things a drummer could be working on.

Explain how I'm wrong about this.

I don't disagree completely. They were created for military drumming, which is in a certain tempo range, and they're not particularly useful at much slower speeds; and at too-fast speeds, like a lot of things, they sound like static. My main issue with them is that musically I don't think in rudiments, and I don't want to think in rudiments. And I'm just a whole-drumset kind of guy, not a hands guy. I do think to be a good drummer you need to be reasonably blazing with them, though. It's a good question, and I've written some more about it here.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
To me, you only need 5 rudiments.

Single stroke

Double stroke

Roll

Flams

Paradiddles.
Everything else is based on those .
For rock drumming , single stroke is the most important one.
For jazz, funk , fusion , all of those.
 

TMe

Senior Member
They have a direct application to both technical facility AND musicality alike......at any tempo.

So... how about explaining the "any tempo" part? That's what the original post asked about.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
So... how about explaining the "any tempo" part? That's what the original post asked about.

I can play a single paradiddle at any tempo in 1/2, 2/2, 1/4, 2/4 or 4/4
I can play a double paradiddle at any tempo in 3/4, 3/8 or 6/8

When the tempo gets too fast I just play the rudiment half as fast.

(The tempo is the BPM)

.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
The problem I have with rudiments is that it seems they're only useful within a narrow range of tempo.

Most rudiments have a minimum tempo, below which they're not very useful at all. They also have a maximum tempo, beyond which either a drummer can't play them, or they're so fast they sound like a blur, at least in most musical contexts.

That leaves a narrow tempo range where rudiments have practical application. If your band doesn't happen to play in that range, rudiments are pretty much useless to you.

Does that sound about right?

I'm aware there are indirect benefits of studying rudiments, but that argument says rudiments should be thought of as calisthenics for drummers. That doesn't seem like a terribly strong argument when there are so many other things a drummer could be working on.

Explain how I'm wrong about this.

Let me make it real easy for you.

Every rudiment occurs naturally between two limbs. If you have four limbs, then you spend all your time figuring out how the hell all these rudiments fit together between the hands and feet.

Couple that with the fact that there's polyrhythms....

So do you need a push start or what? ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvOABv5gXhY#t=1m50s
 

TMe

Senior Member
When the tempo gets too fast I just play the rudiment half as fast.

See? Here's an attempt to answer the question, instead of just being indignant. Thanks.

That's the approach I started with. If a given phrase (rudiment or not) works well in one tempo range, say 90-120, it can be doubled for use at 180-240, or halved for use at 45-60. That seems to hold true whether one is playing the phrase at the same speed (and simply redefining the note values) or actually playing at 1/2 or double speed.

That leaves "gaps" in the tempo where I can play the same phrase just fine on a practice pad, but I'm hard pressed to find any music it would work with, or examples of recorded drummers using it, outside of solos.

I worked through the 40 standard rudiments assuming that, as a group, they would work well at "all tempos". I was surprised to find most of them bunching up around standard marching tempos. That makes perfect sense in hindsight, but isn't what I expected or hoped for.

I looked for other sources, such as the metronome settings on scores, recommended metronome settings on instructional materials, what other drummers played on recordings, and they all seemed to confirm what I was seeing.

Does that explanation make sense? If so, do you think there's any merit to the observation, or is this just a quirk of my taste in music?
 
Last edited:
Top