Category Archives: In the studio this week

paradiddles in 24th notes part 2

This is a quick follow on to the 24th note paradiddles I’ve been having fun with.

Once you’ve really got a good feeling for the odd groupings in 24th notes, you can mess around with them in many ways. The 2 I’ve been focusing on are:

Combinations: I’m working on sticking different groupings together. My current fave is:

double paradiddle, 4 single paradiddles and then a double on the end. Written as a sticking with right hand lead this would be:


The options are endless! It is, as always about what sounds good. I do find that a lot of the combinations with the odd groupings sound kinda cool but are fairly unusable unless you’re playing in Dream Theatre or The Locust. The real challenge is to throw in a fill that complements the song whilst using the odd groupings.

Once I find a combination that I think might work, I move onto

Sound Sources:

First I go through all the classics, such as accents on toms with the rest on the snare, or accents on cymbals with the rest on the snare.

Then I move onto accents on cymbals with the rest on the toms, or playing this as a groove between the hi-hat and snare.

Most recently I’ve put the sticking above together to enable me to show off some rather silly cross sticking and quick cymbal work.

I’m playing the double paradiddle with the accents on 2 different cymbals and the rest on the snare. Then the 4 paradiddles are played with an accent on a different tom each time, starting with the left hand on the high tom then working around down to the lowest. This means that your left hand has cross over to hit the 3rd tom, which looks kinda cool! Finally a loud double on the snare to finish off.

I hope this makes sense, I’ll try to get some video up as soon as I can to demonstrate it.

Have Fun!


Drum fills

Following on from a very nice comment, I started to explore drum fills. It’s not something I’ve thought about in terms of philosophy and approach. They’ve always been something that’s just flowed.

I have of course spent many hours ‘wood-shedding’ certain chops that I like, but rarely plan fills for specific songs in advance. I am more of the opinion that you want to get as much stuff in your toolbox as possible, then let it come out as and when it wants.

However, following the comment I thought I’d have a think and see what came out…

My initial thoughts are something like this.

The type of fill is entirely dependent upon the style of music. It should be at least roughly appropriate and it MUST be musical.

You can think of it in the same way as soloing in jazz. A soloist will often base their improvisation upon the melody of the piece or the chords, stuff that’s already there. Not only does this help the soloist out, but it also ensures that there is a sense of context to the solo, that it fits.

Similarly, use what you already have to create the fill, so focus on the style of music, the beat before and after the fill, the dynamics and feel and make sure that it blends.

Here’s a few basic examples:

  • 8th note rock groove, use 8th note fills! Nothing flashy that will diminish what follows it.
  • 16th note funk groove, go for the 16th notes. Also, blend your sound sources, so if it’s a Jamiroquai style hi-hat thing, base the fill around the hi hat and snare.
  • If you’ve got a latin feel going on, again think about the groove and sounds. I would go for a syncopated thing, probably using a rhythm from within the groove and using the sound sources that are sympathetic, cowbells, cymbals, high toms etc.

Focusing again on making sure that your fill is musical, I often find that the simpler the fill, the more effective it is. The fill is always there to support the music, so be conscious of why you are doing it. Are you lifting the songs into a chorus? Are you helping to reduce the dynamics, or perhaps change the feel? Simply put, a fill should have a purpose.

One last comment, which isn’t entirely original, but does bear repeating. Unless you’re playing fusion, or a clinic, a fill is almost certainly not an opportunity for you to show off your latest, fastest most crazy chops. However great the urge may be (and it often is for me) the audience aren’t going to shower you with praise if you drown out the singer with some badass 32nd note double kick/cymbal mayhem just as the song reaches it’s most gentle moment! I refer you to my first blog about being a drummer. If you really need that kind of attention, start singing! (or get into politics…)

This is just a start really, but I hope it gives you some insight into how I would approach fills.


Independence and Co-ordination pt. 2

This is a quick follow up to the previous blog.

Having been giving the triplet exercises to some of my students this week, I thought of something I should make clear.

The exercise is first and foremost about the use of the hi-hat. The main aim of this exercise is to give freedom to the hi-hat, both as an individual limb, but also as an anchor for the other limbs. Whether you are playing jazz, latin, rock or disco, the hi-hat can be invaluable as a time keeper. For me it’s second nature now to set the hi hat going on 1/4s or 1/8ths at the start of the song and just let it run. Obviously I am conscious of it but it’s not taking any effort to keep it going and, more importantly, it doesn’t interfere with what I want to do with my other limbs.

So, the thing to focus on in the exercises from the previous blog is ensuring that the hi-hat maintains a steady pulse. Keep doing the exercise until your left foot activity becomes natural and easy, and feels truly separate from the other limbs.

I should at this stage clarify that this is something I find useful. It may not suit everyone. I also think that it’s important that you go through similar exercises with other limbs (more of them to follow) and that you use your hi hat like you would your bass drum or hands. This for me is one of the joys of drumming, the huge almost limitless variety of approaches and techniques that one can explore.


Independence and co-ordination pt.1

I can’t stress how important I think it is to develop independence and co-ordination between all the limbs. Not only does this give you more freedom in terms of drum fills and solos, but it also makes it much easier to focus on the groove.

Something I say to all of my students is to not focus on locking limbs to one another for consistency, but rather focusing on locking each limb to the beat. As drummers, we are slaves (in a good way) to the metronome. By having independence we can ensure that each limb is individually, consistently on the beat. By having co-ordination we make sure that our limbs don’t get in each other’s way whilst doing this.

Needless to say, this stuff should all take place in the rehearsal space rather than on a gig, but that shouldn’t stop you from being conscious of it at all times.

Some independence comes easier than others. I find that most people can split the hands fairly easily. Right hand and foot can take a while, but the real toughy tends to be splitting the 2 feet successfully.

This is a fun warm-up I’ve been doing that’s good for hi hat independence.

Set the hi hat going on each beat with your left foot. This should remain constant.

Now play the a triplet between the other 3 limbs e.g.

1       2      3

RH   LH   RF


(It’s interesting at this point to find out which variation you find the most natural – some people automatically lead with the foot, others with one of the hands)

Play this 8, 16 or however many times you need until it’s really comfortable.

To swap to the next variation without stopping, keep the hi hat going and play a double with the limb on beat one e..g

1       2       3       1

RH   RH   LH   RF

LF                    LF

Now the right foot is on beat 1. Again, play this until it feels comfortable, then do a double on the right foot so that the left hand is leading.

This creates a circle of 3 variations. Play the circle round and round, focusing on keeping the hi hat constant and the rhythm regular and even. I would do this at 60bpm until you are comfortable then speed it up!

Once you’re used to this one, swap the leading limb around. In other words, if you started by going RH, LH, RF, start again going LH RH RF.

Once you’ve got all 6, play them one after the other. Begin with 8 of each, then 4, then 2. this gives you less time to think and really strengthens the left foot independence.

I’ve listed the full 6 options below as a check list.







As with lots of these independence exercises, there is no need to be on the kit to do it. Try doing it on tube journeys, when you’re watching TV, important board meeting… just about anywhere really!

Good Luck!

Paradiddles in 24th notes

I’ve been messing around with putting classic stickings into less regular subdivisions recently.

My favourite is to play 6 single paradiddles over a bar at a subdivision of 24th notes.

A good way to get there is to play 3 bars of a basic 4/4 beat at 60bpm and then play a one bar fill of 24th notes, hand to hand.

Then change the sticking to double paradiddles, which is fairly standard stuff.

Then, simply change the sticking to single paradiddles. Focus on keeping the 24th notes even and in time.

This becomes interesting when you play the accents on toms or cymbals.

If you find it tough to get the timing with the different stickings, try singing the fill out loud whilst you play it. Also, go back to the hand to hand and play that a couple of times before returning to the alternate stickings.

Obviously, the paradiddles sticking is the tip of the iceberg. If you like the wonky feeling it gives, try the same thing with a sticking of 5 (4×5 with a 4 at the end), again hitting accents on other sound sources.

Have fun!