Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CSD! listicle: seven useful rudiments

People always seem to want to know what's the deal with rudiments, what do you use them for, and which ones are the best, coolest, most valuable. So here I'll just shotgun some of my favorites:

Four-stroke ruff
Just a super-useful embellishment. Indispensable when playing brushes. A proper, classically-executed 4SR is three very soft grace notes and a main note, played as tight as you can make them— it should not sound like a rhythm. On the drums we have more freedom with them. You can also do them rock & roll style, and make a 16th note triplet out of them, a la Neil Peart. And you can put them around the drums to make a lick that was very popular in the early 70's.

Six-stroke roll

Either 16th note or sixtuplet form. Hip, and fun to play. Steve Gadd plays them a lot, as does Dave Weckl.

Here's how they are played, and how they are usually written in 16th note pulsation form— a Stewart Copeland-like thing is to play these on the hihat:

Paradiddles — first inversion

It's just a hip rudiment. It's all over this performance, which basically defined modern fusion drumming— just move your right hand to the cymbal or hihat, and add bass drum. You can also mix up the accents between the two single notes. Useful for sambas.


This very old-fashioned rudimental flourish happens to be very good for getting your shuffles together.

Continued after the break:

Flam accent #1

I don't know what it is about this rudiment. There's just something very essential about it, even if in playing I don't often use them in their textbook form. The composite rhythm of the 3:2 polyrhythm is built into it— each hand makes that rhythm. I often play them same-handed.

Five-stroke roll

Another super-useful embellishment is the humble 5 stroke roll. In its tap-5 form, with the single note at the beginning, as happens throughout Three Camps, it's also a foundational solo idea:


I don't know why I hate the phrase “bread and butter”, but sometimes you can't avoid using it. Easy to play fast as a solo idea, the paradiddle-diddle is a little more plain than its saucy bastard sister the 6 stroke roll. By displacing it and moving your right hand to the cymbal, you have the beginning of linear comping within a swing feel. You can build a meter-within-meter thing in uptempo jazz off of it.

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