In this blog, I’ll be taking a look at the four most important drum rudiments you need to raise your drumming game. Rudiments are short drum pattern made up of a small number of strokes. Drill these rudiments every day, and you’ll not only watch yourself grow as a drummer, but you’re likely to find that playing your drum kit becomes much easier. This is simply because the most complex of rhythms is actually made up of rudiments. In this blog, we’ll talk about the four most common patterns, and since they’re the most-used, they’ll stay with you for the rest of your drumming life.

What are the Four Most Important Drum Rudiments?
Photo by Richard Clyborne of Music Strive

# 1. The Single Stroke Roll – ‘on-and-on’

|| R L R L R L R L ||

This is the first rudiment that a drummer will ever learn – maybe without even realising it. The Single Stroke Roll can be used in rhythms, fills, solos, and anything else you might care to name. It might be easy, but to play this phrase at any tempo or volume and get it sounding balanced demands masses of practice. Start slowly and make sure that your sticks are hitting the middle of the drum head or practice pad. Try to give every stroke the same amount of power and volume. At this stage, it can be handy to use a metronome, and match every stroke to every tick. Start with a nice, slow tempo, then speed things up once you can play it flawlessly – so you’re matching your stroke to every tick and every stroke is at the same volume. If you’re a left handed drummer, make sure to flip the notation above. So, while a right handed drummer will start the Single Stroke Roll with their right hand, a left-handed drummer will start with their left.

# 2. The Double Stroke Roll

|| R R L L R R L L ||

The Double Stroke Roll, like the Single Stroke, can almost always be thrown into rhythms, fills, and a solos. It’s also a good idea to start slowly with this one, making sure that every stroke has a balanced sound, without accents. Right handed drummers, for example, have a tendency to hit the skin harder with their right hand (and left-handed drummers with the left), so make sure that both hands are playing with the same amount of power so that you get the same volume with every stroke. Also, as with the Single Stroke, while a right-handed drummer starts with their right hand, left-handed drummers need to start with their left.

# 3. The Single Paradiddle

|| R L R R L R L L ||

From here onwards, things will get a little tougher, but repetition works – and lots of it! So have courage and start slowly. The paradiddle is a pattern of four notes, and you can work a lot of magic with them. ‘Pa-ra’ refers to a stroke with one hand followed by the other, so R – L, or L – R. The all important ‘did-dle’ is two strokes with one hand, so R – R, or L – L. There are plenty of versions of the paradiddle, where you have singles, doubles, or even triples, since you can get a lot of variations by just rearranging the paras and the diddles. You could simply swap the paras and diddles around, or play three paras followed by one diddle, and so on. The only rule is that you can’t use the same hand three times in a row. So you can’t play R – R – R, or L – L – L. A good excercise to start with is the Single Paradiddle Roll that you can see above. As always, don’t rush and make sure your strokes are nicely balanced, since avoiding playing this pattern without unintended accents can be pretty hard. Once you’re able to play with perfect balance in terms of your power and volume, you’ll find it much easier to start experimenting with accents. In the example below, we can see an example of this.

Paradiddle with Accents

   >       >
|| R L R R L R L L ||

Try to make the difference between the accented and the strokes without an accent as big as possible. Once this starts going well, you can turn it into a complete rhythm on your drum kit. The only thing you’ll need to do is shift your right hand to the hi-hat. Or see it as, every time you see ‘R’, play the hi-hat, and ever time you see ‘L’, play the snare. As usual, this is the other way around for left-handed drummers. Finally, kick the bass drum on each accent, so that the kick will occasionally hit at the same time as the hi-hat or snare – do all of this, and you’ll have yourself a fully-grown fun rhythm! Of course, you could always use this variation as a fill. In this case, try playing the accented ‘R’ on the floor tom, the left accent on the high tom, and all the other strokes on the snare.

# 4. The Flam


There are many ways to throw a Flam into fills and rhythms, and they can also be combined with many other different techniques. The ‘Flam’ is made of just two strokes that are almost played at the same time, but not quite. Hence the fitting name. The first stroke is referred to as a ‘ghost note’ and is played softly, while the second stroke is played at normal volume. A good way to practice this is to hold the left stick close to the skin and hold the right stick a little higher. Aim the tip of the right stick at the tip of the left stick, then let both sticks fall to the skin at the same time. In this way, you’ll hit the same spot and get a nice ‘flam’ sound. The left stick hits the skin first to play the ghost note, and like a falling domino, the right stick hits the skin with a full stroke. Then, practice the same thing the other way around – so that the right stick plays the ghost note and the left stick plays the full stroke. Whether you’re right or left handed, you’re going to need to know how to play it both way. In the example included below, you can see what looks like the Single Stroke Roll, but with ghost notes added where every stroke is a Flam.

Single Stroke with Flams

  L R L R
|| R L R L ||

Double Stroke with Flams

  L   R
|| R R L L ||

Single Paradiddle with Flams

  L       R
|| R L R R L R L L ||

Enjoy practicing! As I’ve already said, make sure you can play a rudiment flawlessly before speeding it up. Hammer these patterns every day and you’ll quickly see just how much it improves your drumming. Want to learn more? Have a look at the useful links below.

We want to know whether or not these excercises are working out for you. Let us know in the comments!

See Also …

» Drum Books
» Acoustic Drum Kits
» Electronic Drum Kits
» Drum Starter Packs
» Practice Pads
» Drum Sticks
» Drum Headphones

» Drum Notation 101: Tips & Tricks for Beginners
» Reading Music: Rhythm, Tempo & Measure
» What Do You Need to Start Drumming?
» How Do I Become a Drummer?
» What’s the Best Drum Kit for Me?
» What’s the Best Electronic Drum Kit for Me?
» What Are the Best Drum Sticks for Me?

2 responses
  1. David A. Wak says:

    No triplets? They are one of the cornerstones of so much music.

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