Anyone who has been taught by me, or knows me well, will have been subjected to me waxing lyrical about the Paradiddle.
The issue many drummers have with Paradiddles (and in fact, all the rudiments) is they do not realise how useful the rudiments can be in day-to-day playing. Whilst you may spend hours/weeks/months working on Paradiddles, Flams, 5 stroke rolls and Pataflaflas on a practice pad, they will mean very little musically until you learn to move them around the drum kit.
So, firstly, let’s take our Single Paradiddle and play it in semiquavers on the snare:
Now we’ll play the Paradiddle between the hi-hat and the snare drum (right hand plays on hi-hat, left on snare). Play all the snares as ghost notes except on beats 2 and 4, and also add a bass drum with the hi-hat on beats 1 and 3. Hey presto, you have a lovely funky groove:
Next up, move the right hand to the ride cymbal, and left hand to the hi-hat. bring the left down to the snare on beats 2 and 4. This creates much more open, flowing sound:
But what’s this?! Some toms? Keep the sticking the same, but in the second half of the bar, move the sticks to the toms to make a fill
Talking of fills, how about a fill that uses the Paradiddle sticking?
To end, here’s a lovely pattern that uses firstly an Inverted Paradiddle (RLLRLRRL) followed by a Single Paradiddle (RLRRLRLL). Play these between cowbell (right hand) and hi-hat (left hand). Like in our funky paradiddle groove above, add bass on beats 1 and 3, and bring the left hand down to the snare on 2 and 4.
They are just a very few of the great sounding beats and fills you can create using Paradiddles. The number of variations you can create is almost endless, and we haven’t even mentioned the Double Paradiddle, Triple Paradiddle, Paradiddlediddle or Flam Paradiddle yet….
The keys to success with all these patterns are repetition and experimentation.
REPETITION: play them over and over until they become second nature. The theory is that if you play these patterns enough, you will find them creeping into your playing without you even realising. Many times I have listened to a recording of a gig or session I have done and wondered what exactly I’d played in a certain pattern or fill. I listen back to it, and what a surprise – it was a paradiddle. I hadn’t been thinking “must put a paradiddle in this piece of music”, it just came out. This comes from REPETITION.
EXPERIMENTATION: Once you’re happy with the examples above, feel free to move the paradiddle to different parts of the drum-kit. Or perhaps add some extra bass drums. Maybe a crash on beat 1?
Oh, and don’t be scared to make mistakes. The drum-police aren’t going to come round your house and tell you off for changing things! Sometimes the best things come from getting stuff wrong – you could happen upon a killer groove or tasty fill purely by changing something accidentally!