9 Awesome Paradiddle Variations: The Ultimate Guide

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What are paradiddles?

Paradiddles are the most widely known drum rudiment.  They are usually the first rudiments to be shown to kids or beginner drummers.  Kids love learning them because they are like a little game where you to need to concentrate a little in order to get coordinated.  This guide to paradiddles is for beginners to advanced drummers.  Beginners can try playing variations #1 and #3, while more advanced players can work on the rest of the variations.

Infographic demonstrating 9 paradiddle variations.

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What is the point of learning Paradiddles?

I believe that the main purpose of learning paradiddles or rudiments is to develop technique. Technique can be thought of as the form that you use to play the drums and how you move your body and hold the sticks while you play.  The most important thing to keep in mind when you play paradiddles is to think about how you are gripping your drum sticks and how you move your arms and wrists and fingers.  This blog will mainly focus on how you move, but if you would like to learn more about how to hold the drum sticks stay tuned for more blogs on this topic.

#1 Paradiddles in eighth notes:

The first way of playing paradiddle is in eighth notes.  The sticking is right-left-right-right,  left-right-left-left.  I will play these examples using the french grip, but they can also be played using any other type of grip (i.e. German, American, Traditional, etc).  I like to begin teaching paradiddles in french grip because it is the grip with the easiest access to understanding rebound and finger control.

There are 3 types of movements that I am thinking about when I play: down strokes, up-strokes and tap strokes. For more information on French Grip stay tuned.  The down-stroke will allow you to get an accent on the first beat.  The up-strokes and tap strokes are softer.  Aim to control the accent on the down-stroke (i.e. don’t let the stick bounce out of control after the impact)

#2 Paradiddles in Triplets:

Once you are comfortable with paradiddles in 8th notes you can challenge yourself to this next challenging variation.  Paradiddles are in groups of 4 notes, therefore by playing them in triplets (which are in 3), they no longer line up perfectly with the beat.  Stay concentrated on keeping your movements consistent (with the same sequence of down-strokes, up strokes and tap strokes as before), while using the sheet music to help you identify exactly where the beat falls within the paradiddle.

#3 Paradiddles in 16th notes:

Now that we are comfortable with these previous paradiddles, we can try to play a little faster in 16th notes.  16th notes are mathematically twice as fast as eighth notes, so it’s usually pretty natural to simply double the speed as we switch from 1/8th notes to 1/16th notes.  Again, keep the movements the same as before, however you can turn your attention to allowing the down stroke to pivot freely in order to maintain the momentum of the moving stick.

One great tip for increasing your paradiddles speed is to split your hands up and practise each hand individually. Let the first stroke pivot and rebound.  Allow the two doubles to simply be a reaction to the initial pivot.  In this way, it’s one big stroke with a rebound rather than 3 individual strokes.

#4 Double Paradiddles in Triplets:

Double paradiddles are simply adding two single notes at the beginning of each paradiddle.  These 2 extra notes transforms the pattern into 6 notes.  Therefore playing them in triplets works very well. The sticking will now become right-left-right-left-right-right &left-right-left-right-left-left. I like to think of double paradiddles as para-para-diddles.   The para represents the single or right-left strokes and the diddle represents the doubles or right-right strokes.

#5 Double Paradiddles in 16th Notes:

You can also play double paradiddles in 16th notes, however to make it fit in 4/4 time, you need to add a single paradiddle at the end.

#6 Triple Paradiddles

This one is similar to the double paradiddle, but with 3 singles followed by a double.  This rudiment is made up of 8 notes so it works perfectly in 16th notes and fits easily into a bar of 4/4 time.

#7 The paradiddle-diddle in triplets

The last variation consists of adding an extra double at the end of the paradiddle. The sequence is now right-left-right-right-left-left.  Again this gives a 6 beat pattern so it’s great to practise in triplets.  It’s a good idea to practise leading with the left hand as well, because this variation doesn’t naturally change hands.

* The up-stroke is now placed on the second double.

#8 The paradiddle-diddle in 16th notes:

It is interesting to play paradiddle-diddles in 16th notes as well.  Just like the double paradiddle, you need to add a single paradiddle at the end of the measure in order for it to fit into a bar of 4/4 time.

#9 The Paradiddle-diddle-diddle

The last variation ads a third double or diddle to the paradiddle. The sticking is now right-left-right-right-left-left-right-right  What’s great about this variation is that it has 8 strokes and therefore fits perfectly in 16th notes in a bar of 4/4 time.  It also naturally alternates from the right hand to the left hand lead.

In conclusion

Once you are comfortable with each of these variations, a great exercise for mastery is to practise reading the sheet down at 70 b.p.m’s (metronome speed) playing each line consecutively with one repetition only.


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