In the context of drumming music, a ‘rudiment’ is one of several small patterns that form the basics for a larger pattern of rhythmic shapes and more in-depth drumming patterns. Although there are an almost limitless amount of conceivable rudiments, there are 40 standard ones that have become the “international” or American standards. These are grouped into four different categories: Roll Rudiments, Multiple Bounce Roll Rudiments, Double Stroke Open Roll Rudiments and Diddle Rudiments.
The most basic rudiment is the single stroke roll. RLRL RLRL. If you think about this pattern as a quarter or eighth note rhythm you would either count it, “1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4” or “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”. Although these are the most common rhythms to think of with this rudiment, you can play it in any conceivable rhythm including triplets, quintuplets and so on. To expand on this idea, let’s move to another category, “Diddle Rudiments”. This is where you will find one of the most notable rudiments, the ‘Paradiddle’. Although still a relatively basic rudiment, this is a more challenging pattern to internalize than the single stroke roll. The name ‘paradiddle’ is actually an onomatopoeia for the rudiment itself: RLRR LRLL. “Para-did-dle Para-did-dle”. Like the single stroke roll, the most basic rhythm to put this into would be a quarter, eighth or sixteenth note grouping. The counting for 16th notes being, “1, e, and, ah, 2, e, and, ah”. However, like the single stroke roll the paradiddle can be used in any rhythmic context, despite it being a 4-8 note grouping.
The way I like to think of rudiments is like small building blocks for the greater purpose of building drum beats and rhythms or fills around the drum set. If you take the paradiddle for example; place the right hand on the hi hat and the left hand on the snare drum. Also have your right foot on the bass drum pedal and left foot on the hi hat pedal, closed. Play the pattern as a slow eighth note rhythm, “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and” – “RLRR LRLL”. Now, accent the right hand at the beginning of the first four as well as the left hand at the beginning of the last four. Now you have “Rlrr Lrll”. Now if you really want to take it a step further, place a bass drum (right foot) along with every right hand note in the pattern. If you execute this on the drum set as noted above, you will come out with a pretty fun beat/pattern. This is how you should approach every rudiment. The next step is to start putting rudiments together!