Over-thinking rudiments

Squirrel Man

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So I work on a lot of rudiments like anyone should and I'm good at them. Not great, good, working toward great.

Basic paradiddle, saw a guy on youtube like buzz a basic paradiddle to ridiculous speed and wondered how he did that. Posted that question on another forum and after some not-so-much talk and accusations of wanting to be in a speed metal band called decapitated cattle or something, what was the point...

At what point do rudiments increase your ability to play, at whatever level and at what point do you say "ok, I need to focus on my style and groove more"? Or is it an ongoing process which it probably is.

Is over-thinking this stuff earlier on a hindrance?

I love watching jazz drummers, they do amazing stuff that I'd like to do or anyone for that matter. All or mostly snare and hats, few toms here and there for fill. Just wondering if focusing on that is a bad use of my time and abilities right now and I know, depends on your goals.

Throwing this out there for discussion.
 

Hop

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If you're practicing the rudiment(s) but not employing them on the kit then what's the point of the practice? That is, your not taking full advantage of your effort or possibilities.

Two simple things to do are to move some of the notes, as accents, on to one or more toms. Since you mention the paradiddle, accent the first note of the group on the tom(s), then the second note, then the diddle on the tom, then the first two notes on a tom(s) and the diddle on the snare... etc. The apply the pattern to a hand/foot combo in different positions/permutations...

You get where I'm going with this. Now you've made one pattern into two 'concepts' with multiple idea permutations and you'll have a whole new vocabulary and an endless amount of material to practice on.
 

Old Drummer

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The point of rudiments is not to play them as such, but to develop a flexibility of technique that allows you to play whatever you want to play.

Take the paradiddle. While I've heard of drummers actually playing paradiddles in performances, that makes no sense to me. What does make sense is to have the ability to switch easily between double and single strokes. This way if one hand happens to be on one drum and you want to hit it twice fast, you can do it with one hand rather than have get the other hand over to that drum in a hurry. Being good with paradiddles just gives a drummer more flexibility.

So yes, mastering rudiments does help, but it also depends on your goals. You can be a good drummer, possibly even a great drummer, without having mastered all the rudiments. It is however hard for me to believe that anyone can be a decent drummer without being able to play a half a dozen of the rudiments reasonably well, but after that it does depend on your goals. It's a lot better to have a good style and feel than it is to be an expert at the rudiments, though the rudiments help.

Speaking for myself, a mediocre drummer, I confess to not even knowing what all the 26 rudiments are. As I recall, there were 13 on the first page and 13 on the second, and I only learned to play the first 13. Now I don't even remember what all those 13 are, although I also picked up a couple on the second page anyway. I would be better if I had mastered all the rudiments, but I've never felt that not doing so was a liability. I still got paid, after all.

Mainly, rudiments are a means, not the end. The end is playing the kind of drums you want to play. The rudiments help you get there, but aren't themselves where you want to go. Keep 'em in perspective.
 

dcrigger

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Is over-thinking this stuff earlier on a hindrance?
Not necessarily - but skipping over a whole chunk how to learn will certainly be.

Not saying you have. But I suspect - from what you've written that you might have. And I'm not singling you out or anything - because this is real common things these days.

- Oh and nothing I'm saying is an invalidation of what Hop wrote - I just think there's real important step to cover before getting to his suggestions. -

So question - how have you practiced rudiments up to this point?

Most commonly, folks practice each one from slow to fast then back to slow - the idea being to build up speed and control over time. If that's what you've been doing - great! Everyone should do that - but that won't get you to those solo-ish, jazzy snare based fill type thingys.

Which brings us to the Second part of rudiment practice - the one that tons of folks never really do. And that's learning and practicing how to string multiple rudiments together to create musical phrases.

Learning drums is all about developing vocabulary - but what a lot of folks don't get is that while the drum set is a multi-surface percussion instrument - demanding that we acquire a lot of independence based vocabulary. Which is great - we have to do that - that's working on time patterns and grooves.

But so much of the overall vocabulary of the drum set demands that we be able to play each individual surface as a instrument in itself.

And that requires - single surface playing skills - and single surface vocabulary.

In a nutshell, too many players are taught almost exclusively to focus on the multi-surface playing (time patterns) while never really acquiring any musical facility on one surface.

And of course the one surface to focus on is - the snare drum. Because snare drum skills translate seamlessly to every other single surface we need to play.

Another way of looking at is - we need to be able to play multiple parts - one limb per part. But we also need to be able to play one part - with two hands.

And practicing rudiments from slow to fast developed muscles - but doesn't end up creating any ability to make music on the snare drum - by itself.

Again thinking interns of vocabulary - think how we learned to read words.... playing one rudiments over and over is like saying "run run run run run run run run run" over and over. And we did that as kids - getting each word in our heads - run, Spot, see. But then we went on and learned to navigate -

See Spot
See Spot run
Run Spot run

This what we need to be able to do with rudiments - string them together to make musical phrases. And I'm in no means suggesting just jumping in willy nilly - we're trying to build a broad vocabulary. So why rely only on what comes to our head - when there's a vast world of literature already created for this.

So my go to suggestion (there's probably other ways - but this is what I know) is get a copy of Haskell Harr Book 1 and Book 2 - IMO it doesn't matter if you read music or not. Because these books will take care of that along the way. To get where I think you want to end up - you pretty much need to be able to play everything in both of those books. If book one is mainly review, great. Review it as quickly as you're able - just don't skip anything.

These two books will give you handle on the bulk of playing the snare drum - playing most rhythms, all rudiments as applied to music (not just as exercises). From there I would suggest digging into the books by Charlie Wilcoxon - these are books of snare drum etudes that will point out how the rudimental/marching type vocabulary can be applied to jazz and swing.

And at that point you will have most all of the single surface playing technique that I was ever taught - which honestly is enough that anything beyond that that you wish to play - you'll be able to quickly figure out and start working on.

Again it all just boils down to the drum set isn't and never has been solely about just playing time patterns. Sure there are isolated times when that is all that's needed. But it's really pretty rare - and in some styles, being able to play more than just time is essential.

Anyway - if I presumed wrong and none of this really applies - my apologies and never mind. :)
 

Seb77

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Singles and doubles, yes.
Practicing is always good; the rudiments are part of the histroy of the drums and worthwhile.
However...
they were not invented to be a preparation for drumset playing.
There are other stickings you can get a lot of mileage out of that are not part of the (marching) snare drum rudiments.
Stanton moore has some yt videos on patterns such as
RRLRRLRL
or RLRRLRRL



or RLLRLLRL
or ...

One pattern I use a lot is just RLRRLL. Many way to orchestrate this around the kit.
If this seems interesting, Gary Chaffee's "patterns" books go in a similar direction.

As far as speed is concerned, look at the RLRRLL pattern, it has singles and doubles. The doubles could be played fast by either bouncing the second one, or using a push/pull finger motion. Then accent the singles. Add to this the inversion LRLLRR. To me this is a major building block (Hidden in there is the swing ride beat, btw).
You could also start with RLRRL and LRLLR, or focus on them later to introduce some odd-number patterns, then move on to pattern using 7, 8, 9 beats.
 
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JDA

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over-thinking
26 Rudiments you should practice for like a year or so.

then move on to Stick Control (George Stone) and practice that for a year or so.
Then you're moving on to Freedom.
Practice gary Chaffee "Stickings" Volume One and Two.. and
"Big Band Figures" and vary it out.

not many stay stuck in one gear for very long; it's (technique stuff) a Progression.

Till after 5-6-7 years or so you "abandon" and put together- all you've- learned and studied and exposed your self to- Self Expression.

That's who you are
 

multijd

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All good stuff in the comments above. Along with the other books that Joe suggested I would add Charley Wilcoxon “The All-American Drummer” as a way to learn patterns that string the rudiments together. After that you could tackle his “Modern Rudimental Swing Solos” book.
 

Drumstickdude

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I regularly go through this brilliant book, I'd highly recommend getting the book stick control and this book. It says jazz but as John Riley says in one of the pages , it can be applied to any drum style, this is a book that 'strings together' rudiments so you can also make your own phrases.
 

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Old PIT Guy

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Depending on what you're looking to achieve, the basics can take you pretty far if you're willing to analyze and figure out what accomplished players are doing with those same basics since much of it amounts to orchestration and substitution. Eventually you'll come across some tricky hybrid multi-sound source thing that'll require slowing down and looping half to death. And usually around that point you realize most of what stands out distills more to placement and phrasing creativity with feel and dynamics than it does spending hours on a dozen or more rudiments.
 

Squirrel Man

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Not necessarily - but skipping over a whole chunk how to learn will certainly be.

Not saying you have. But I suspect - from what you've written that you might have. And I'm not singling you out or anything - because this is real common things these days.

- Oh and nothing I'm saying is an invalidation of what Hop wrote - I just think there's real important step to cover before getting to his suggestions. -

So question - how have you practiced rudiments up to this point?

Most commonly, folks practice each one from slow to fast then back to slow - the idea being to build up speed and control over time. If that's what you've been doing - great! Everyone should do that - but that won't get you to those solo-ish, jazzy snare based fill type thingys.

Which brings us to the Second part of rudiment practice - the one that tons of folks never really do. And that's learning and practicing how to string multiple rudiments together to create musical phrases.

Learning drums is all about developing vocabulary - but what a lot of folks don't get is that while the drum set is a multi-surface percussion instrument - demanding that we acquire a lot of independence based vocabulary. Which is great - we have to do that - that's working on time patterns and grooves.

But so much of the overall vocabulary of the drum set demands that we be able to play each individual surface as a instrument in itself.

And that requires - single surface playing skills - and single surface vocabulary.

In a nutshell, too many players are taught almost exclusively to focus on the multi-surface playing (time patterns) while never really acquiring any musical facility on one surface.

And of course the one surface to focus on is - the snare drum. Because snare drum skills translate seamlessly to every other single surface we need to play.

Another way of looking at is - we need to be able to play multiple parts - one limb per part. But we also need to be able to play one part - with two hands.

And practicing rudiments from slow to fast developed muscles - but doesn't end up creating any ability to make music on the snare drum - by itself.

Again thinking interns of vocabulary - think how we learned to read words.... playing one rudiments over and over is like saying "run run run run run run run run run" over and over. And we did that as kids - getting each word in our heads - run, Spot, see. But then we went on and learned to navigate -

See Spot
See Spot run
Run Spot run

This what we need to be able to do with rudiments - string them together to make musical phrases. And I'm in no means suggesting just jumping in willy nilly - we're trying to build a broad vocabulary. So why rely only on what comes to our head - when there's a vast world of literature already created for this.

So my go to suggestion (there's probably other ways - but this is what I know) is get a copy of Haskell Harr Book 1 and Book 2 - IMO it doesn't matter if you read music or not. Because these books will take care of that along the way. To get where I think you want to end up - you pretty much need to be able to play everything in both of those books. If book one is mainly review, great. Review it as quickly as you're able - just don't skip anything.

These two books will give you handle on the bulk of playing the snare drum - playing most rhythms, all rudiments as applied to music (not just as exercises). From there I would suggest digging into the books by Charlie Wilcoxon - these are books of snare drum etudes that will point out how the rudimental/marching type vocabulary can be applied to jazz and swing.

And at that point you will have most all of the single surface playing technique that I was ever taught - which honestly is enough that anything beyond that that you wish to play - you'll be able to quickly figure out and start working on.

Again it all just boils down to the drum set isn't and never has been solely about just playing time patterns. Sure there are isolated times when that is all that's needed. But it's really pretty rare - and in some styles, being able to play more than just time is essential.

Anyway - if I presumed wrong and none of this really applies - my apologies and never mind. :)
No worries, you're not putting anyone on the spot. This is a hypothetical question that I'm just wondering.

Right now I play the kit for an hour or two usually each day but not always every day and the practice pad for an hour or two in the evening or early morning on weekends. I've been kind of a stickler at rudiments, I have a dozen or so I work regularly but there are from what I gather 40 of them, some of them being kind of silly extensions of a rudiment but I do around a dozen of them regularly, a couple I made up on my own.

When I work them I do one, fast, slow, faster, slower then I roll back into and out of other rudiments. I also work on rolls and Moeller on the pad. On the kit I do what someone mentioned, maybe you (lots of walls of text on this thread so far lol, not a bad thing tho) but I do them on the kit and alternate between snare, toms, cymbals. I get little diddle beats going and work them around the kit. But again, the thought occurred to me and I'm not advocating it's accuracy, just wondering out loud, is this the best use of my time? Who has unlimited time on their hands? Not me, but what's the most efficient way to use it?

That's kind of my point. I'm not planning on changing my approach. Ironically when I typed this last night I had my pad leaning against my laptop working on a 6-stroke.
 

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Over-thinking anything can be a problem if it impedes expression/flow and leads to stagnation. If you feel that you have done the work to get a solid baseline of dexterity and control from a technical standpoint practicing the way you have been, what is your current assessment of where you are at and where you want to go? The remedy depends on the individual situation. If you feel the fruits of practicing all the technique is not being manifested in your free expression on the kit then there is the need to relax and loosen up. If you are overplaying by trying to incorporate all the wonderful chops you have acquired then spend time listening to the greats in the styles you are interested in and strive for the feel and flow aspects not the chops.
 

rhythmace

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The really coolest thing that I ever learned, way back, is from a Don Osborne book. I still have it. I learned to play triplets, sticked as paradiddles. I saw Stanton do a similar presentation at a clinic and it was great. He really was there to teach. Ace
 

Sinclair

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Is over-thinking this stuff earlier on a hindrance?
Not really. It's only a hindrance if you're unable to play any ideas without using rudiments. Consider that a good musical drumming idea generally overrides technical prowess. Ask Ringo. Of course there are exceptions. Ask Colaiuta.
If you're interested in playing rudiments in a musical context, you mentioned Jazz, I would listen and transcribing an Alan Dawson solo. There are many other examples of course.
At what point do rudiments increase your ability to play, at whatever level and at what point do you say "ok, I need to focus on my style and groove more"? Or is it an ongoing process which it probably is.
As you know practicing rudiments builds a great foundation, improves your hand and finger strength and overall endurance. Your playing becomes more nimble, articulate and injury free while providing additional vocabulary. All good.
That being said I NEVER think of them while playing a drum set.
I've practiced rudiments and continue to practice them but they're not part of my thought process when creating a drum part or trying to accompany others, unless the music calls for it or there's a musical reason to use them. I'd say soloing is a different matter. If you find yourself depending on them or calculating where to insert them in a tune while playing I'd say maybe work on your time, feel and groove more often.
 
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drummerfriend

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My approach for the last 40+ years..

Once I learned the rudiments in 'isolation', I went on to these two books. I still work with them to this day. In my opinion they bring it all together and help to make sense of applying them to the set in any genre you so desire.

Books like Stick Control, Accents and Rebounds and Master Studies are super helpful to reinforce the control elements that go into executing the rudiments cleanly.


51mkaoRfC4L._SX361_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
91CESBxvnrL.jpg
 

Nacci

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Like you referenced, use your ability to execute rudiments to further develop you own style and groove.

I often think about the Buddy Rich Memorial concert that featured Gadd, Weckl & Colaiuta.

There was a drum duet at the end, Weckl went first and his playing was so beautiful, sophisticated and complex. Colaiuta next, he was a powerhouse, a rudiment/jackhammer chimera. I believe I remember him sweating profusely at the end. Last was Gadd, who methodically went into a fairly simple marching beat between the snare and kick and then transitioned that to a fat, chunky Latin groove off of the cowbell. None of it anywhere near complex or fast as what those other two magicians had just pulled off but it didn’t matter. The crowd knew groove, The whole place came alive and Gadd had won the show.

I hope my point was clear.


 

Tornado

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My approach for the last 40+ years..

Once I learned the rudiments in 'isolation', I went on to these two books. I still work with them to this day. In my opinion they bring it all together and help to make sense of applying them to the set in any genre you so desire.

Books like Stick Control, Accents and Rebounds and Master Studies are super helpful to reinforce the control elements that go into executing the rudiments cleanly.


View attachment 457954 View attachment 457955

The Wilcoxon stuff is so good and so much fun to play.
 

hector48

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I use paradiddles and 6-stroke rolls a lot on the drum kit.
Paradiddles are useful if you are playing a single stroke fill around the kit, or a tom pattern, and need to end on the opposite hand. The "diddle" will get you there.
 

5 Style

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my skills knowlege of rudiemts is pretty basic, despite the fact that I've been palying for decades. I have gotten better recently though when I put a practice pad and some sticks on my coffee table. There's something about focusing only on rudiments and the way that you're stroke is happening that works better for me on a pad than on a full set of drums. I watch youtube videos and I've found stuff that are various exercises that different drummers have invented for themselves which combine different rudiments in a way can be a nice sort of shortcut and a good challenge. I'm a slow learner and I've realized that I do better if I don't force myslef to learn too mucch too quickly. I'll concentrate on one figure at time and really go over that thing, developing speed and smoothness. I'll make up my own sticking patterns and rythmic figures. Anything that will force you to mirror what you do with one hand to the other is good...
 

JDA

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I think combination Stickings (long distance over measure(s) and as fills, and builds,
Get as much or more use on the set,
Short rhythmic phrases like the Ruffs and Drags as some of the rudiments are
suit themselves to march and marching
Unless you're doing a lot of parade work ; )
 
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