Kick Patterns And Ridelines

There are two main obstacles we face when we first start drumming. The first is getting the hang of the coordination and the second is understanding the rhythm.

The lessons below are going to help with both of these. Each lesson features 22 kick (bass drum) patterns in combination with a constant hi-hat pattern. Once you can play all of these you'll have a good feeling for the main rhythms used in western music and have a strong grasp of the coordination required to play the drum kit.

Here is how I recommend you approach learning and practicing this material.

  1. Before you start playing, set your metronome and try to “sing” the kick and snare pattern you are going to try to play. By sing, I don't mean some operatic masterpiece, just something that sounds like the drums you are trying to represent — dum dum, gah, dum dum, gah — etc!

  2. Once you have an idea of how the beat should sound try to play it. If you can hear how the beat should sound in your head you are going to find playing it much easier.

  3. Play through the exercise until it feels comfortable and you can play it from memory, then move on to the next one. Try not to keep your eyes glued to the music, you'll remember the patterns better if you practice playing them from memory.

  4. The next step, once you can play all 22 patterns, is to try pairing them up to make longer grooves. One way of doing this is by writing the numbers 1 to 22 on a piece of paper and then crossing off the pairs of beats as you go. If you struggle with any groove, just stop and practice the patterns individually before combining them.

  5. Next, have some fun with them. Try adding fills or pairing up the pairs you have worked on in a verse/ chorus structure. For example, 1&17 for four bars, 6&16 for four bars and repeat.

A note for those new to reading music. There are four possible positions for the bass drum in each beat, 1 e + a, and only two beats in each bar, 1 e + a 2 e + a (the snare is on beat 2). Start with the “16th Rideline” lesson. In those exercises the hi-hat is on every 16th note (the 1 e + a 2 e + a) so each bass drum will be played with a hi-hat. You can move on to the other lessons once you've got the hang of that.

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Linear Phrases: Part 1

The word “Linear” refers to the fact that each note is played by itself — the hands and feet don't play at the same time. 

The lesson below introduces eight linear phrases (the ‘A’ patterns) and then puts them into 4/4 as 16th notes (the ‘B’ patterns). 

Make sure you practice the ‘B’ patterns to a metronome. This will help to train your ears (and brain) to hear how pattern relates to the beat.

  1. Start by looping the ‘A’ pattern, using the sticking written underneath the exercise. 1-4 have one bass drum at the end of the phrase, 5-8 have two bass drums. Playing two bass drums right next to each other is quite difficult, so take it slow and pay close attention to how you are playing each stroke. Regardless of tempo, they should sound the same!

  2. Once you can comfortably play ‘A’, move to the corresponding ‘B’ exercise using the same sticking. Beware that when you loop the ‘B’ exercises the ‘A’ pattern will cut short at the end.

  3. Once you can play the ‘B’ exercises try adding a left foot hi-hat on every beat (the beginning of each group of four 16th notes). Coordination-wise, this is pretty tough at first, so start slow!

  4. Now it's time to have a bit of fun! Try playing the ‘B’ exercises around the kit. Some ideas using ‘1B’ as an example:
    i) Play the first R L on the snare, the next R L on the high tom, the next on the low tom etc.
    ii) Move the R around the kit, leaving the L on the snare.
    iii) Combine the two ideas above. For the first R L use idea ‘i’, for the next R L idea ‘ii’ etc.
    iv) Reverse the sticking and try ideas a-c.

  5. Now try using the ‘B’ patterns you've practiced as fills. For example, three bars of groove with one bar of fill (the ‘B’ pattern). Do this with a metronome, you don't want to speed up during the fill!

  6. The next step is to try combining the ‘A’ patterns to make more complex phrases that we can use as fills or as solos. We look at this in Part 2.

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Paradiddle Grooves

A heads up, the following grooves are fairly difficult. They are based on accented paradiddles and paradiddle inversions, so familiarise yourself with those before you attempt these. Otherwise you might struggle! It's also a good idea to use a metronome.

  1. Grooves 1-3 use the paradiddle (1), inverted paradiddle (2) and reverse paradiddle (3) for the snare and hi-hat parts. For the sake of simplicity I've used the same bass drum pattern in each groove. If you struggle with the coordination, simplify the grooves by ignoring the ghost note and accents. You can add them back in once the groove feels more natural to play.

  2. Grooves 4-6 combine half a bar of two different paradiddles. ‘4’ combines the paradiddle and inverted paradiddle, ‘5’ the paradiddle and reverse paradiddle, and ‘6’ the inverted paradiddle and reverse paradiddle. Again, I've used the same bass drum pattern in each groove.

  3. Grooves 7 & 8 feature the paradiddle, inverted paradiddle and reverse paradiddle in a random order. I have also changed the bass drum pattern in each example. It's a good idea to get comfortable with the groove's sticking pattern before adding the bass drums.

  4. Grooves 9-11 incorporate ideas from the Accented Paradiddles lesson, which results in displaced snare accents — accents that are no longer exclusively on the second and forth beat of the bar. These grooves are fun to play but technically challenging. As with the previous exercises, start with the sticking pattern before adding the bass drums.

  5. Once you can play 1-11 get creative. These grooves are just examples so try changing the bass drum patterns or moving the accents to different parts of the beat to make your own variations.

PDF download: Paradiddle Grooves

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Accented Paradiddles

Accented Paradiddles are some of my favourite exercises to play for improving stick control and technique. The paradiddle is a versatile rudiment that has many applications on the kit. Having the technique to accent the different notes that make up the paradiddle will give you the ability to play a ton of cool grooves, fills and a world of options when it comes to soloing. That makes them well worth practicing!

  1. To start off, practice exercises i-iv on a pad or snare at a slow tempo to a metronome. 

  2. Once you can play i-iv comfortably, try moving the accented notes around the toms whilst keeping the unaccented notes on the snare at a low volume.

  3. Next, try switching between the different patterns. For example, play exercise ‘i’ four times before moving straight to ‘ii’ without stopping, then to ‘iii’ etc. This a great way to become more familiar with each pattern. It also involves a bit of mental gymnastics to make sure your sticks are in the right position for each stroke!

  4. 1A - 4C involve different combinations of i-iv. In 1A-C beat 1 changes, in 2A-C, beat 2 changes, etc — You get the idea! These are great exercises for the pad and kit. Once mastered you can develop it further by combining the different exercises to form more complex phrases.

  5. Try applying these ideas to a different rudiment or sticking pattern, such as the reverse paradiddle (RRLR LLRL).

PDF download: Accented Paradiddles

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