These 6 Paradiddle Exercises is All You’ll Ever Need

November 6, 2023

Paradiddle exercises can transform the mundane into the magnificent for any drummer, providing a toolkit for intricate grooves and fills. 

I’ve been through the grind, turning paradiddles from simple stickings to expressive musical phrases that can be split between hands and feet, and punctuated with dynamic accents.

Embrace these exercises to add layers of complexity to your drumming, whether it’s through accents, crossovers, or rhythmic expansions.

Quick tip for the busy drummer: Paradiddle variations can spice up even the most basic beats and fills.

Let’s pick up our sticks and delve into the world of paradiddles!

Exploring the Paradiddle Family

The paradiddle family is vast and varied, each member bringing its distinct flavor to the drum set:

  • Single Paradiddle: Classic RLRR LRLL, the cornerstone of paradiddle practice.
  • Double Paradiddle: A broader pattern with an extra set of singles, RLRLRR LRLRLL.
  • Triple Paradiddle: Expanding further with RLRLRLRR LRLRLRLL.
  • Inverted Paradiddle: Flipping the script with RRLR LLRL.
  • Paradiddle-diddle: A tasty pattern mixing doubles and singles, RLRRLL LRLLRR.
  • Paradiddle Variations: These include patterns like RLLRLRRL and RLRLLRLR

Each of these paradiddles sets the stage for a suite of exercises designed to challenge and improve your rhythmic capabilities.

Paradiddle Exercises: Enhancing Dynamics and Coordination

Exercise #1: Hand-Foot Paradiddle Coordination

Objective: Develop limb independence by integrating paradiddles into hand-foot combinations.

How to Practice: For example, left hand stays the same while your bass drum plays the part of the right hand. This transforms the usual ‘RLRR LRLL’ into ‘KLKK LKLL’, where ‘K’ represents the kick drum.

Exercise #2: Paradiddle Accents

Objective: Experiment with dynamics by accenting different notes within the paradiddle.

How to Practice: For instance, you could accent the first two notes of each single paradiddle: ‘RLrr LRll’. Then, try accenting the first and the third note: ‘RlRr LrLl’. Each variation changes the feel and complexity of the rhythm.

Exercise #3: Paradiddles Enhanced with Drags, 32nd Notes, and Flams

Objective: Infuse your paradiddles with a rich variety of sounds by integrating drags, 32nd notes, or flams in place of traditional accents.

How to Practice: Replace accents in the exercise #2 with one of the following:

  • Drag
  • Flam
  • 32nd note

Instead of playing Rlrr Lrll you would plag Dlrr Drll, Drepresenting drag.

Exercise #4: Crafting Unique Paradiddle Combinations

Objective: Cultivate inventiveness by fusing different paradiddle patterns into new, personalized rhythms.

How to Practice: Familiarize yourself with various paradiddle structures, and then start blending them to form fresh patterns. Consider these paradiddle types:

  • Single Paradiddle: RLRR LRLL
  • Double Paradiddle: RLRLRR LRLRLL
  • Paradiddle Variation: RLLR LRRL 

To create your unique paradiddle sequence, you could mix parts from different paradiddles. For instance:

  • Merge the first half of a Single Paradiddle (RLRR) with the second half of a Paradiddle Variation (LRRL) to forge a new rhythm: RLRR LRRL.
  • Combine the initial part of a Double Paradiddle (RLRLRR) with the concluding segment from the Paradiddle Variation (LRRL) to craft a more intricate pattern: RLRLRR LRRL.

Exercise #5: Paradiddles over Foot Ostinatos

Objective: Play paradiddles over various foot ostinatos like samba or rumba patterns to improve polyrhythmic capabilities.

How to Practice: Maintain a samba foot pattern while playing paradiddles on the snare: ‘RLRR LRLL’ on top. Then, put one hand on ride or a hi hat cymbal. You can go even further by adding accents, drags, or playing your own paraddidle form exercise #4.

Also you can play rumba 3 over 4, 2 over 3, 4 over 5 or any other ostinato.

Exercise #6: Cross-Rhythm Paradiddles

Objective: Create a cross-rhythm effect by splitting the paradiddle between different drums.

How to Practice: For example, split the single paradiddle between the snare (S), hi-hat (H), and floor tom (F): ‘R(S)L(H)RR L(F)RLL(H)’. This creates a melody within the rhythm, enhancing the musicality of the paradiddle.

Advanced Paradiddle Concepts

Polyrhythmic Paradiddles

Objective: To develop the ability to play paradiddles over contrasting rhythmic cycles, improving timing and polyrhythmic skills.

How to Practice:

  • Choose two contrasting rhythms. Start with a common polyrhythm, such as 3 over 2 or 4 over 3.
  • Apply the paradiddle. Begin by playing a simple paradiddle pattern (RLRR LRLL) with your hands.
  • Introduce the polyrhythm. Use a metronome or drum machine to play the contrasting rhythm. For example, if you’re doing 3 over 2, have the metronome click represent the “3” while your paradiddle represents the “2”.
  • Start slowly. Play the paradiddle slowly enough that you can consciously align the strokes of your paradiddle with the contrasting rhythm of the metronome.
  • Gradually increase speed. As you get more comfortable, increase the tempo while maintaining the polyrhythmic relationship.

Modulated Paradiddles

Objective: To master the art of playing paradiddles within different time signatures and subdivisions, enhancing rhythmic versatility and creativity.

How to Practice:

  • Change the time signature. If you usually practice paradiddles in 4/4 time, try playing them in an odd time signature like 5/8 or 7/8. This requires you to adjust the paradiddle pattern to fit within the new time signature.
  • Subdivide differently. Instead of the usual 16th-note subdivision, try playing paradiddles as triplets, quintuplets, or even septuplets.
  • Mix subdivisions. Alternate between different subdivisions within a single paradiddle pattern. For example, you might play the first half of a single paradiddle as 16th notes and the second half as triplets.
  • Create complex patterns. Combine different time signatures and subdivisions within a sequence of paradiddles to challenge your rhythmic comprehension and execution.

In Summary

Through the array of paradiddle exercises we’ve tackled, you’ve gained a toolkit to take your drumming from steady to stellar. Remember, whether you’re layering in accents, slicing in flams, or weaving between hand-foot combinations, the key to mastery lies in patience and practice. 

Use these exercises as a daily regimen to build muscle memory and finesse your technique. Keep it consistent, keep it rhythmic, and most importantly, keep the passion alive in every single paradiddle you play. Now, armed with these exercises, you’re ready to roll!

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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