One of the keys to great-feeling grooves is accuracy with the placement of your bass drum hits. This series of exercises will help you improve your groove by helping you gain control and confidence with your kick work. The exercises use a single paradiddle hand pattern played on top of permutating bass drum patterns. Permutation, for our purposes, means that we will move a single bass drum note to the right one 16th at a time until we return back to where we started. Once we’ve mastered the single bass drum notes, we’ll apply the permutation concept to a pair of bass drum notes and finally, three notes. First, let’s look at the hand pattern.
STEP 1 – ‘SINGLE PARADIDDLE WITH TURNAROUND’ HAND PATTERN
The hand pattern uses single paradiddle sticking and includes a “turnaround” which replaces the beat of ‘4’ of every 2nd measure. The turnaround switches the lead hand so that the bass drum variations are practiced against alternating leading hands. Practice the ‘single paradiddle with turnaround’ hand pattern SLOWLY until the stickings, accented/unaccented notes and the turnaround become automatic. (The notation comprises one full ‘cycle’ of the hand pattern. Practice stitching together multiple cycles and remember to count quarter notes or 16th’s so that you know where you are in the cycle.)
Here are two complete cycles of just the hand pattern on the snare drum at quarter note = 80 bpm. Note that the accented hits are played as rimshots and the unaccented hits are played as taps or ghost strokes:
STEP 2 – LEFT FOOT HI-HAT
Once the hand pattern is solid, add left foot hi-hat on the ‘&’ of each beat. Just like with the ‘turnaround’ practice SLOWLY until the placement of the hi-hat becomes automatic. Remember that the hand pattern/hi-hat combination doesn’t change…the turnaround is always on beat ‘4’ of every 2nd measure and the hi-hat remains constant on the ‘&’ of each beat in each exercise.
STEP 3 – ADDING THE BASS DRUM
If you don’t already have it, click the link below to download the ‘Single Paradiddles with Bass Drum Permutations’ worksheet before working on the material in this section.
Start with foot ostinato ‘A’ (‘ostinato’ typically means a repeating pattern) and play the hand pattern on the snare drum while incorporating the bass drum/hi-hat combination underneath. Be sure to also spend a few minutes practicing starting the exercise from a count-off. Starting some of these exercises from a dead stop can be tricky!
Play through the exercise SLOWLY, making sure that the bass drum and hi-hat are locked in with the hands before moving to the next exercise. The exercises on the worksheet are separated into ‘Single Taps’ (exercises A-D) and ‘Double Taps’ (exercises E-J). ‘Singles’ permute a single bass drum, ‘Doubles’ permute a pair of bass drum notes. And while exercises I & J at the end of the ‘Doubles’ section don’t really adhere to the permutation definition, they are challenging to execute (and cool!) so I included them. Take it slow and only increase the tempo when you can execute the exercise cleanly. Target tempo is 90-120 bpm.
Here are ‘Single Taps’ exercises A-D played on the snare drum at 90 bpm. Each one is performed for two full cycles of the hand pattern:
Here are ‘Double Taps’ exercises E-J played on the snare drum at 90 bpm. Each one is performed for two full cycles of the hand pattern:
STEP 4 – PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Once you’ve mastered the individual exercises on the snare, try combining the exercises without pausing between them. Keep the hands and hi-hat smooth and tight while you move the bass drum beats underneath. Let’s also move the right hand to the ride cymbal. Play accented ride cymbal hits on the bell and unaccented ride hits on the bow. Accented hits on the snare should be played as rimshots with unaccented snare hits played as taps or ghost strokes. Take it slow and only increase the tempo when you can execute the exercise cleanly. Target tempo is 90-120 bpm.
‘Single Taps’ exercises A-D played as a single exercise on the kit at 90 bpm. Each one is performed for one full cycle of the hand pattern:
‘Double Taps’ exercises E-J played as a single exercise on the kit at 90 bpm. Each one is performed for one full cycle of the hand pattern:
MOVING ON – ‘TRIPLE TAPS’
Exercises K-S utilize triple taps. Triple taps, for our purposes, are three consecutive 16th’s played on the bass drum. Again, the entire phrase moves one 16th to the right on each successive exercise. Playing them with the paradiddle hand pattern can be tough, so be sure to start slow and take your time.
Mastering all of these exercises at various tempos will help add precision to the placement of your bass drum hits! Use your creativity to explore different combinations of the individual bass drum exercises and be sure to explore different voicing combinations with the hands, too. (i.e., hi-hat/snare, cowbell/snare, toms, etc.)
While you’re at it, play the individual exercises with the left foot hi-hat on the downbeats instead of the upbeats. Maybe apply the same permutation concept to some 8th note triplets using single paradiddle sticking…or maybe replace the conventional paradiddle sticking with inverted paradiddles, double paradiddles, triple paradiddles, paradiddle-diddles, quarter notes or 8th notes…so many possibilities!!!
Here are some of my ideas to get you started…
‘Combination Study 1’ combines elements from the ‘Singles’ and ‘Doubles’ exercises along with the single paradiddle with turnaround hand pattern that we’ve been using. Performance tempo is 120 bpm:
‘Combination Study 2’ combines elements from the ‘Singles,’ ‘Doubles’ and ‘Triples’ exercises and uses a hand pattern consisting of hand-to-hand 16th’s played across the hi-hat and snare (there’s no ‘turnaround’ in this one). Performance tempo is 100 bpm:
If you need help breaking down any of this material, I am available for in-person and online drum lessons.
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