Paradiddle Pyramid is a great rudimental exercise that's fun to play and great for your hands. It's a simple exercise to learn but it's extremely effective and will help you improve your Paradiddle rudiments as well as your stick control in regards to single stroke and double stroke variations.
When you learn this exercise, you should practice it at a wide variety of tempos because it truly takes on a different character at different speeds. Practicing this drumline exercise at extremely slow tempos will help you improve your tap control and touch whereas practicing Paradiddle Pyramid at extremely fast tempos will help you improve your chops, flow, and speed.
So, if you want to improve your stick control, paradiddle rudiments, finesse, and chops, this drumline exercise is one you should learn so let's get started!
Paradiddle Pyramid Essential Rudiments
As the name suggests, Paradiddle Pyramid is all about Paradiddle rudiments. It's based on three different types of Paradiddle rudiments including the Single Paradiddle, Double Paradiddle, and Triple Paradiddle.
Single Paradiddles are your most common Paradiddles and are made up of two single strokes and one double stroke. A Paradiddle starting with right hand lead is played "RLRR" and a Paradiddle played with left hand lead is "LRLL."
Double Paradiddles are essentially Single Paradiddles with an additional set of single strokes in the beginning. The rudiment is six notes long and is made of four single strokes and one double stroke. A Double Paradiddle starting with right hand lead is played with the sticking "RLRLRR" and a Double Paradiddle played with left hand lead is played with the sticking "LRLRLL."
Triplet Paradiddles are Double Paradiddles with an additional set of single strokes in the beginning. A Triple paradiddle is eight notes long and is comprised of six single strokes followed by one double stroke. A Triple Paradiddle starting with right hand lead is played with the sticking "RLRLRLRR" and a Triple Paradiddle played with left hand lead is played with the sticking "LRLRLRLL."
The Paradiddle Pyramid Concept
The overlying concept of the Paradiddle Pyramid is spelled out pretty clearly in the name.
The idea is to create a pyramid of the essential Paradiddle rudiments and layer them in a way that resembles a pyramid structure.
Think as if you are starting at the top of a pyramid with Single Paradiddles (the shortest of the three rudiments in this exercise). After you play your Single Paradiddles, you play Double Paradiddles followed by Triplet Paradiddles.
After you play the Triple Paradiddles, or the base of the exercise, you ascend again and work your way back to the top of the pyramid (Double Paradiddles followed by Single Paradiddles).
Overview of Paradiddle Pyramid
In this video lesson, we break down the Paradiddle Pyramid section by section so you can become more comfortable with the concept of the exercise and gain an idea of what it sounds like.
Paradiddle Pyramid Sheet Music
Learning the Paradiddle Pyramid
As mentioned previously, this drumline exercise is pretty straight forward and the concept itself does a pretty good job of describing the concept. If you're wondering the best way to learn this exercise, here's a step-by-step process that will help you quickly learn the exercise:
1) Play four Single Paradiddles with accents on all of the downbeats.
2) Play four Double Paradiddles with accents on the first note of every grouping
3) PLay four Triplet Paradiddles with accents on the first note of every grouping
5) Play four Double Paradiddles with accents on the first note of every grouping
6) Play four Single Paradiddles with accents on all of the downbeats.
A good way to go about this is to play each step individually.
When you're first learning this drumline exercise, don't worry about stringing it all together right away. Start by playing each type of Paradiddle four times by itself and focus on the quality and flow of each.
Note that the Double Paradiddles take up 1.5 beats so the right hand paradiddles lands on the downbeats of one and three whereas the left hand Double Paradiddles start on the "+" of two and four.
Once you're comfortable with the three paradiddle rudiments by themselves, start at the beginning and play four Single Paradiddles followed by four Double Paradiddles. Repeat that a number of times and then move on to playing four Double Paradiddles followed by four Triplet Paradiddles.
Once you can smoothly transition from one type of Paradiddle to the next, you're ready to string the entire exercise together and play it from the beginning to the end.
Practicing the Drumline Exercise
As mentioned previously, this is an exercise that you should be playing at all tempos. Play this exercise really slow will help you develop some musical maturity and touch as playing the taps and being patient with them at slow tempos is not an easy thing to do. Additionally, playing this exercise really fasts requires you to develop some chops, relaxation, and flow.
All of these are playing qualities worth developing as a rudimental percussionist so find some time to exercise, pull up your pad, turn on your metronome, and start working on it!
Paradiddle Pyramid Conclusion
As you'll quickly realize as you first learn this exercise, Paradiddle Pyramid really helps you improve your flow in regards to transitioning between single strokes and double strokes. It also allows you to focus on three essential Paradiddle rudiments and improve your ability to play them for a prolonged period of time. If you're looking to improve your stick control capabilities, paradiddle rudiments, chops, and flow, the Paradiddle Pyramid drumline exercise is a perfect fit!
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Pat McLaughlin is the founder of Drumline Chops. He graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in music education and is currently the percussion director at West Bloomfield High School.