A guide to Drum Rudiments

Rudiments: The Building Blocks of Drumming

Think of the drum rudiments as the “building blocks” of drumming. They are roughly equivalent to a pianist or a guitarist learning and practicing their scales. The rudiments are important to help a drummer develop technique, phrasing, control and coordination on the drums.

Ultimately, having a great grasp of all the rudiments will enable you to be more fluent and creative as well as technically competent.

Building Blocks

The rudiments are an example of being “greater than the sum of its parts”. All of the rudiments can be combined, mutated, adapted, and evolved.

This means that there are hundreds of rudiment exercises out there. This might seem overwhelming or even off-putting at first. At the very least, it is commonly accepted that there are 40 important drum rudiments. If this seems like too much to get your head around, then read on… Help is at hand!

The 4 families

All of the rudiments can be traced back to one of 4 “families”.

By keeping it simple and organised, we can start to evolve the rudiments through small variations and you can gradually build up your knowledge. Don’t be overwhelmed by all 40 (or 400!) rudiments at once. Break it down to just these 4 starting points.

The 4 rudiment families are:

  • Roll rudiments
  • Diddle rudiments
  • Flam rudiments
  • Drag rudiments

Roll rudiments

In the context of the rudiments the terms “roll” means playing evenly-spaced notes. These notes may be single strokes (alternating from hand to hand) or double strokes (two strokes in each hand) or multiple strokes (three or more strokes in each hand).

Diddle rudiments

A diddle is two notes played by one hand. For example LL or RR.

Flam rudiments

One grace note followed by a full volume stroke played very close together in order to sound like one slightly longer note.

Drag rudiments

Two grace notes followed by a full volume stroke. This gives the impression of a “dragged” sound, hence the name.

From these 4 main families of rudiments, we move on to learn the 40 standard rudiments that make up the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) International Drum Rudiments.

International Drum Rudiments

Here are all 40 of the International Drum Rudiments, under the 4 main family headings. You can view notation and examples of each rudiment on the Percussive Arts Society website

Roll Rudiments

Single Stroke Rudiments

1. Single Stroke Roll

2. Single Stroke Four

3. Single Stroke Seven

Multiple Bounce Rudiments

4. Multiple Bounce Roll

5. Triple Stroke Roll

Double Stroke Rudiments

6. Double Stroke Open Roll

7. Five Stroke Roll

8. Six Stroke Roll

9. Seven Stroke Roll

10. Nine Stroke Roll

11. Ten Stroke Roll

12. Eleven Stroke Roll

13. Thirteen Stroke Roll

14. Fifteen Stroke Roll

15. Seventeen Stroke Roll


Diddle Rudiments

16. Single Paradiddle

17. Double Paradiddle

18. Triple Paradiddle

19. Paradiddle-Diddle

Flam Rudiments

20. Flam

21. Flam Accent

22. Flam Tap

23. Flamacue

24. Flam Paradiddle

25. Flammed Mill

26. Flam Paradiddle-Diddle

27. Pataflafla

28. Swiss Army Triplet

29. Inverted Flam Tap

30. Flam Drag


Drag Rudiments

31. Drag

32. Single Drag Tap

33. Double Drag Tap

34. Lesson 25

35. Single Dragadiddle

36. Drag Paradiddle #1

37. Drag Paradiddle #2

38. Single Ratamacue

39. Double Ratamacue

40. Triple Ratamacue

The original 26 standard American Rudiments

There were originally 26 standard drum rudiments. The 26 original rudiments are included within the 40 PAS international rudiments above.

How many rudiments are there?

It really is a case of deciding how you label things. Don’t get confused about the number of rudiments – it is a bit of a distraction. You don’t need to get bogged down by arguments about how many drum rudiments there should be. Some people say 26 rudiments, some say 40. Some people include all of the sub-variations and hybrid rudiments. This would bring the total number of possible rudiment combinations to nearer 400 in total.

Hybrid rudiments and rudiment combinations

Fancy a Megadiddle? Or how about a Parafladdle-diddle-diddle?

This goes a bit beyond the scope of this article, but the point is you can combine any of the rudiments to create hybrid rudiments. You might also want to try playing one version of a rudiment with your hands, whilst your feet play an inverted variation of the pattern at the same time.

We’ll go into more depth about hybrid rudiments in another article.

You might also want to check out our previous articles about rudiments: See all posts tagged “Rudiments”

Let us know if you have a question about any of the rudiments by posting a message below.

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