Episode 1: Why you need ‘em! An introduction
Well partners, this, I‘m afraid, is something that I encounter far too often in the real world… maybe some of you do too. You’re minding your own business, picking up a new pair of sticks and a fruit shaker at the local Guitar HQ when, all of a sudden, you’re under siege by some twenty-something hipster in skinny jeans who thinks he’s being artful (and obstinate about it) when in reality, he’s just whacking off in public. You’re helpless; it’s just like 3rd grade grammar class when your teacher picked the “slow kid” to read all you can do is stand there and take it. I realize that no one reading this would ever freely admit to committing such a vulgar display of public fugga-duggaery. But (just between us) if you’re reading this and want to free yourself from the limits of your own expression, there is a good place to start. Rudiments!
Rudiments are not the cherub like monsters that you battle in some online video game, nor are they some tasty chocolate covered raisin snack found in the seats at the movie theatre! Rudiments are the building blocks of drumming, the atoms of groove, the broken-down bits of the beat and they are good! Rudiments are the sounds and rhythms that make up our drumming vocabulary. Guitarists have scales and chords, we have rudiments and you’re probably already using them more than you think. Learning the rudiments can seem a bit intimidating at first, but really they’re pretty simple. Basically it comes down to strokes played with either the R (right) hand or one played by the L (left) hand. Here’s some examples to get you started:
- The Single Stroke Roll is played RLRLRLRL this is the one everyone does on the table when someone says “drum roll please!” it’s also used when playing Tympani, Marimba, Conga, Djembe.
- The Double Stroke Roll is played RRLLRRLL and is the basis of many rolls used on the kit in jazz and rock, as well as marching and concert snare drum.
- The Paradiddle (my personal favorite) is played RLRR-LRLL-RLRR-LRLL and is the basis of a ton of cool applications and is also a great warm-up all by itself. I hope you’re starting to see just how cool rudiments can be.
Mastering just a few, can really make you a better player, plus you wont be nearly as annoying when you’re slamming away at Guitar HQ.
Now, go dust off that practice pad your mom got you for your birthday, grab your favorite pair of sticks and check out some rudiments. A couple of great places to start are www.drumrudiments.com a site I found after a simple search, here you’ll have a chance to see and hear all 40 of the rudiments played from a slow to fast. Another great resource is The Percussive Arts Society www.pas.org This is a site you should have bookmarked anyway, it’s just a great resource for all things drum! Lastly go find a rudiment tutor or someone who’ll give you rudiment lessons. Once you get these simple patterns in your hands and start applying them to the kit, you’ll be amazed at what you can do.
Now get out there and start learning something!