Just behind the single-stroke and double-stroke roll, paradiddles are likely the most important and commonly used rudiment. You can find many examples of this in my book, Sticking Patterns.
The paradiddle rudiment consists of pairs of both single and double strokes: PA-RAs are the single strokes; DID-DLEs are the double strokes. There are four main types of paradiddles: Single Paradiddles (Pa-ra-did-dle), Double Paradiddles (Pa-ra-pa-ra-did-dle), Triple Paradiddles (Pa-ra-pa-ra-pa-ra-did-dle), and Paradiddle-diddles (Pa-ra-pa-ra-did-dle-did-dle). Each can be played starting with the left or right hand. The first three are naturally alternating (start with the right hand and the next one will start with the left hand), while the paradiddle-diddle naturally repeats with the same leading hand.
Each of the four types contain what I choose to refer to as inversions, akin to chords. For simplicity, and since paradiddle rudiments can be applied to any constant or changing rhythmic value, the following examples are written with sticking only. For further practice ideas, you can embellish any of the paradiddles with flams, drags, or ruffs.
Root Position: R L R R – L R L L
First Inversion: R R L R – L L R L
Second Inversion: R L L R – L R R L
Third Inversion: R L R L – L R L R
Root Position: R L R L R R – L R L R L L
First Inversion: R R L R L R – L L R L R L
Second Inversion: R L R R L R – L R L L R L
Third Inversion: R L L R L R – L R R L R L
Fourth Inversion: R L R L L R – L R L R R L
Fifth Inversion: R L R L R L – L R L R L R
Root Position: R L R L R L R R – L R LR L R L L
First Inversion: R R L R L R L R – L L R L R L R L
Second Inversion: R L L R L R L R – L R R L R L R L
Third Inversion: R L R R L R L R – L R L L R L R L
Fourth Inversion: R L R L L R L R – L R L R R L R L
Fifth Inversion: R L R L R R L R – L R L R L L R L
Sixth Inversion: R L R L R L L R – L R L R L R R L
Seventh Inversion: R L R L R L R L – L R L R L R L R
Root Position: R L R R L L (or L R L L R R)
First Inversion: R R L L R L (or L L R R L R)
Second Inversion: R R L R L L (or L L R L R R)
Third Inversion: R L L R R L (or L R R L L R)
Fourth Inversion: R L L R L R (or L R R L R L)
Fifth Inversion: R L R L L R (or L R L R R L)
PA-DIDDLES AND DIDDLE-PAS
There are six additional important stickings that I consider part of the paradiddle family, but are not recognized as such. They have two strokes on one hand and one stroke on the other, usually played within a compound meter or triplet rhythmic grouping. I call each a PA-DIDDLE or DIDDLE-PA because they consist of a double stroke combined with just one single stroke. The six variations are:
R R L
L L R
R L R
L R L
R L L
L L R
QUINTUPLETS AND BEYOND
Quintuplets are rhythmic groupings commonly used by many drummers, and I think of the following stickings as quintuplet paradiddles. Once again, these are not considered official or standard drum rudiments, but they are equally useful in a variety of practice and performance situations. Since quintuplet paradiddles consist of three single strokes and one double stroke you might think of each as a Pa-ra-ra-did-dle. The four variations and the inverse of each are as follows:
R L R L L (or L R L R R)
R L R R L (or L R L L R)
R L L R L (or L R R L R)
R R L R L (or L L R L R)
A septuplet is another odd rhythmic grouping in which could be fitted double paradiddles and paradiddle-diddles, along with their inversions. Try it and see what you come up with. Theoretically, any combination of single and double strokes might be labelled as some type of paradiddle. For instance: R L R L R R L L could be called a para-para-diddle-diddle. There’s almost no end to the possibilities.
Consecutive single strokes, double strokes, and sometimes triple strokes, combined with all types of paradiddles more or less tell the whole story of the stickings most commonly used by drummers. The rest of the story has to do with how, when, and where they’re used, as well as the rhythmic context in which they’re played. The more options you explore in your practice, the more flexibility and precision you will find in your performance applications.
Joel Rothman is the writer and publisher of almost 100 drum and percussion books. They can all be found on his website (www.joelrothman.com), or you can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.