Photo by Dave Hodgkinson

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Rudiments: Practical vs Technical

Rudiment's are important to me. If you're a regular visitor to these pages, you probably already know that, but it may also suprise you to hear that I don't use them a huge amount in my playing. As discussed here, just because something's value isn't immediately clear, doesn't mean it isn't worth developing. Some of the more abstruse rudiments may sound unmusical and technical, but they can also be your best tool for developing technique. There are really two types of rudiments: practical and technical

Examples of practical rudiments include paradiddles, double paradiddles, swiss army triplets, six stroke rolls or flam taps. These sound melodic the moment you begin orchestrating them; countless lessons have been taught on the value of using these rudiments around the drum set and for good reason.   

Technical rudiments, on the other hand, helps us develop our speed, touch and feel, but may not necessarily be useful in a musical context. Mamadadas, drag flams, triplet flamadiddlediddles. These are great practice tools, but working them into your playing will, more often than not, sound contrived or unnatural. 

I've been working lately on trying to expand my practical rudiment repertoire; the list of rudiments I would feel comfortable using on a gig. For some time, i've been curious to see how a ratamacue, a windmill or a reverse flam accent might sound as part of my kit vocabulary. For me, the first step on this path has been to sit down at the kit and experiment. I play around with timing, length and orchestration and see what sticks. It's really down to preference as to which rudiments you persevere with. I will say though, however long you spend orchestrating a flama flama flam flam, it still won't end up sounding good. 

I'll post my progress on here as I start to find applications for as many rudiments as possible. My first post will be an exploration of the 'Blushda', a version of the swiss army triplet that I find I can use in almost any context. Let me know if there are any rudiments you'd like to see me apply on the kit and i'll post the results on here. 


  1. The minute you think about putting it in, whilst playing a gig, the minute it will fall apart. It really has to be 'in your hands' to be able to work it. There are drummers, like Bryan Devendorf, who seem to start with the rudiment as a jumping off point for their style. i think that is a different proposition.

  2. Hi David. Yes agreed, conscious decisions in music often end up sounding forced or unmusical. Saying that, sometimes you have to consciously steer yourself away from bad habits in your playing, so 'thinking' on a gig isn't always a bad thing.