Make your own free website on

As drummers we frequently spend a lot of time practicing rudiments, but we often have difficulty applying them to actual playing situations. The patterns found on this page are meant to demonstrate some practical applications for various rudiments. Most of the ideas covered here are fairly simple. They are meant to serve only as a starting point.


Five-stroke rolls

Introductory Exercise
This example first demonstrates 5 stroke rolls starting OFF the beat. It then demonstrates 5 stroke rolls starting ON the beat. This is an introductory exercise meant to show two common ways to phrase 5 stroke rolls. It is important to be able to play them in either fashion.

Here's the way 5 stroke rolls starting off the beat are commonly written.

Here's the way they may be played played. The slashes through the sixteenths mean to play as doubles.

5 stroke rolls starting on the beat, as written.

As played.

Introductory Example mp3

Used in simple fills
This example shows two simple drum fills (or lead ins) which utilize 5 stroke rolls. The first fill uses a 5 stroke roll starting off the beat. The second fill uses a 5 stroke roll starting on the beat. The fills are demonstrated at a slow tempo and then at a faster tempo.

Simple fill starting off the beat.

Simple fill starting on the beat.

Simple Fill mp3

Fusion type fill
This example demonstrates a quasi-fusion type of fill using 5 stroke rolls around the drums. The pattern is first played on the snare drum alone and then as a fill around the drums.

Fusion fill hand pattern.

Fusion fill as played.

Fusion Fill mp3

Incorporated into a groove
This example shows how to work 5 stroke rolls in to a rock, funk, or fusion beat. In this example the 5 stroke roll is played on the hi-hat.

Hand pattern.

Incorporated into a groove.

Groove Example mp3

Real world example

The last example is the well known drum part created by Steve Gadd for the Paul Simon tune, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. This beat incorporates 5 stroke rolls into the texture of the groove.

Still need to do the notation for this one.
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover mp3

These are just a few of the multitude of ways 5 stroke rolls can be applied to the drum set.  The same types of things can also be done with various other rolls and sticking patterns.  It's importatnt to always look for musical applications for the patterns we are learning.  Use your imagination.  Remember, the goal is to play music.

Back to Contents

Six-stroke roll

Here is a very useful sticking pattern. This pattern is sometimes referred to as the six-stroke roll. The six-stroke roll can be used within fills, solos, and grooves. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

The first example shows the basic sticking pattern written using eighth-note triplets. Practice this pattern on the snare or practice pad until it becomes comfortable.

The second example demonstrates how to incorporate the toms into the sticking pattern. This is a useful pattern for fills and solos. It works well in many musical styles and contexts. This just shows one possibiltiy. Experiment by moving the pattern around to various drums, cymbals, hi-hat, etc..

The third example demonstrates how to incorporate the bass drum into the pattern. The bass drum is used to replace the right hand double. This pattern is frequently used by players like Dave Weckl and Steve Gadd. Practice first with just the snare and bass, then incorporate the toms as above.

The fourth example simply shows the pattern written in sixteenth note triplets. All of the above patterns should be applied to sixteenth note triplets as well.

This audio example runs through the various six-stroke roll patterns shown above.
Six-stroke roll mp3

Back to Contents

Single Paradiddles

The following examples demonstrate a few ways to apply single paradiddles to the drumset. Patterns such as these can be useful in fills, solos and grooves. The basic idea is to take the paradiddle sticking pattern (rlrr lrll) and begin it on different places within the beat. These are sometimes referred to as paradiddle permutations. The accents fall on the beginning of each paradiddle grouping. The first measure of each example shows the basic sticking pattern. The second measure moves the accents to either the small tom (i.e. left-hand accents) or the floor tom (i.e. right-hand accents). Once you become comfortable with these patterns move the accents to other sound sources such as crash cymbals, ride cymbal, or hi-hat. You can also move the non-accented notes to other parts of the kit -- for example, play the left-hand doubles on the small tom and the right hand doubles on the floor tom. Use your imagination and be creative.

Back to Contents

Paradiddles in Triplets (3 against 4)

Triplets phrased in single-paraddidles can be an easy and useful way in which to imply a polyrhythm.  The basic idea is to play normal eighth-note triplets, but instead of using the typical single stroke sticking use a single-paradiddle sticking.  Example1 demonstrates 2 measures of single-stroke triplets,  followed by 2 measures of triplets using a single-paradiddle sticking.  Pay close attention to the accents.  In the single stroke measures I've indicated the accents on counts 1, 2, 3, and 4.  In the paradiddle measures the accents fall on every fourth note of the eighth-note triplets.  By accenting every fourth note of the  eighth-note triplets we will be playing 3 evenly spaced accents within a measure of 4/4 time.  Playing 3 evenly spaced notes over a 4/4 pulse gives us the polyrhythm of 3:4 (sometimes referred to as 3 against 4).  To more clearly see the phrasing refer to example 2a.  In this example I've indicated the accented notes (i.e. the notes which imply the 3 portion in the 3 against 4 polyrhythm ) with solid note heads.  I've also shown the 4/4 pulse below the triplets.  If we only play the accented notes and leave the others out, we end up with half-note triplets in 4/4 time.  This is notated in example 2bHalf-note triplets played over a quarter note pulse is a very common way of producing a 3:4 polyrhythm.  Be aware that the accents which occur our single-paradiddle triplets actually correspond to the notes of a half-note triplet.  This can be seen by comparing example 2a and example 2b.

So what does all this mean?  It means that by using the naturally occuring accents in the single paradiddle sticking, we can easily imply a feeling of 3 against 4.  Assuming that a basic 4/4 pulse has already been established (either by you or the band),  all you need to do is play triplets using the single paradiddle sticking.  By emphasizing the accents you will be producing the effect of a 3 against 4 polyrhythm.  The accents in the single-paradiddle will produce the 3 part.  The basic 4/4 pulse will be the 4 part.   The advantage of using single-paradiddles in this situation is that they automatically give you the correct accent pattern.  The naturally occuring accent on every fourth note of the eighth-note triplets is just want you want to produce the 3 over 4 effect.

As an added bonus, this process also demonstrates the important rule-of-thumb for calculating any polyrhythm:

To play a polyrhythm of X:Y (i.e. X against Y), we divide the basic pulse into grouping of Xs and play ever Yth one.

For example:  To play the polyrhythm of 3 against 4, we divide the basic pulse into groupings of 3 (i.e. triplets), and play every fourth one. This is exactly what we have demonstrated above.  By accenting every fourth note in a string of eighth-note triplets we are producing the effect of a 3 against 4 polyrythm.
Back to Contents

  Back to the main page

Copyright © 2001Kevin Barrett. All Rights Reserved.