I’m currently writing a book of drum patterns derived entirely from that most celebrated of all the rudiments, the paradiddle. Now, you maybe thinking, a paradiddle book? hasn’t that all been done before, but I disagree. All it takes is an imagination combined with a determination and willingness to embrace the absurd. Then, you start to realise there’s actually quite a lot you can do with a paradiddle.
.My initial plan was to generate as many patterns as I could from the single paradiddle in its common form: RLRR LRLL. However, I soon realised it would be necessary to widen the scope to include the other common forms: RLLR LRRL, RLRL LRLR and RRLR LLRL.
Creative Interpretations of the Paradiddle
The thing that makes all rudiments great is their versatility; they are not bound by genre. It doesn’t matter if you play metal, jazz, latin, rock, hip-hop, K-pop, grime, house, punk… you can use a rudiments. Readers may be familiar with the idea of using the paradiddle to play a funk groove. It’s easy. Just get one hand playing the hi-hat, the other playing the snare. An element of variety can be introduced by changing the what the feet are doing underneath. I adopted this approach in the initial stages of writing material for the book. What becomes apparent is that as the bass patterns get more complicated, the patterns become a bit too busy for more everyday use where ‘playing clean’ might be more appropriate.
When you move away from the paradiddle as a rudiment and start to think of it purely as a sequence of events that can be applied anywhere on the drum kit, the creative potential is dramatically increased. For example, some of the more original patterns I have composed share the sticking pattern between the hands and feet, so, for example, RLRR becomes right foot, left hand, right hand, right foot.
One creative way of working is to establish a rule and then find ways of breaking it. I’m finding quite a lot of scope in the idea of the Implied Paradiddle. This echoes a chapter in my PhD which focused on the predictability in music. I’m positing is that it’s possible to perceive a paradiddle even if there’s only one hand playing it. For example, if the right hand plays R _RR _R _ _ the absent left hand can still be felt. This is especially so if the full paradiddle is set up in the first instance (i.e. both hands playing RLRR LRLL). When the left hand drops out, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to continue ‘hearing’ it without it actually being played. There are eight forms of the Implied Paradiddle which relate to eight forms of the single paradiddle.
Eight Forms of the Implied Paradiddle
You could argue that in deconstructing the paradiddle like this means you are no longer left with a paradiddle. This is true, but the brief of my book is to use the paradiddle as a starting point for other ideas. In algorithmic composition you might call it a seed value from which other ideas are generated. In other words, they don’t all have to sound like paradiddles. Modern composers use a myriad of techniques to generate material. Drummers willing to embrace new techniques will ultimately be more interesting to listen to.
In the example below, both the hi-hat and snare patterns are derived from rhythm 1, with the snare shifted to the right by one semiquaver. The bass drum is played on all the beats.
In the following example the bass drum pattern is based upon rhythm 6, with some gaps added in the second half. The pattern is made more interesting still with the addition of accents. When you play this pattern, it’s hard not to hear the paradiddle even though, technically, there isn’t one: