SECTION 3 – A Drummers Options – A Working Glossary

SECTION 3 – A Drummers Options – A Working Glossary

We drummers don’t have the same options as guitarists, keyboard players or anyone else that plays a melodic instrument. Where they can use chord substitution, relative keys, modes etc, we have different options. In my experience, a drummer’s unique voice comes from how they use and combine these options, so they are vital to explore, develop and incorporate into our practice routine.

For these examples, I have opted to use Sticking 4 – the humble Paradiddle. You can use this with any sticking or rudiment.

I have written these examples in their purest form – I haven’t combined any of them together and I haven’t exhausted all of the possibilities of each option. You will also notice that some of the ideas you come up with may be familiar, possibly as other rudiments or hybrid versions.


 1 – Dynamics

Playing dynamically (playing loud and quiet notes) adds texture and depth to your sound. It also helps to follow phrases within a piece of music without stopping the flow of notes. These first four examples show a single accent being moved through Sticking 4:






Dynamics example 1 (each example is played 8 times before moving onto the next one)


Of course you could play two or three accents too. Try moving them through all of the possible permutations:




Dynamics example 2                                              Dynamics example 3


2 – Orchestration

We have several options in terms of what we can hit on the drum kit – it depends what set up you have. It’s common to use the toms to orchestrate an idea, but don’t be afraid to use the cymbals, hi hats, ride, cowbell – anything you may have, to execute an idea. Here I have used the first accent from the above option and orchestrated it first, on the toms, then on the cymbals (with the bass drum at the same time). Try orchestrating the others accent possibilities in the same way:




Orchestration example 1                                   Orchestration example 2


Another way we could approach moving the hands around the kit would be to orchestrate one limb. Here are a couple ideas, first with the right hand, then the left hand orchestrated:




Orchestration example 3                                      Orchestration example 4


3 – Substitution/Co-ordination

We could substitute one of the hands in the pattern for a foot. Here are two simple ideas:




Substitution example 1                                                 Substitution example 2



4 – Subdivision One

We have looked at playing the sticking ideas in different subdivisions earlier in the book. Here is Sticking 4 in Subdivisions 3:




Subdivision One example 1



5 – Subdivision TWO

We could change the subdivisions rate for specific notes. These two examples change from eighth note triplet rate to sixteenth note triplet rate. In the first example, the diddle is altered, in example two it’s the first R L that has changed:




Subdivision Two example 1                            Subdivision Two example 2



6 – Embellishment

We have several embellishments to choose from – flams, buzzes, diddles etc. We can add these in to alter the pattern:






Embellishment example 1                                                Embellishment example 2

Embellishment example 3                                                Embellishment example 4



7 – Permutation

Permutation means taking an idea and starting it at all of its possible points. Here is Sticking 4 started at all of the possible right hand starting points:






Permutation example 1-4  The right hand pattern is played on the rack tom for clarity  and each example played 8 times before moving to the next one.


CLICK HERE to move on to the next section to see how Elvin Jones, Mitch Mitchell, David Garibaldi, Tony Willians, Vinnie Colaiuta and Jason Bowld have all used the same sticking but by combining and applying these options, have come up with unique ideas.