26 Rudiments

26 Drum rudiments

In percussion music, a rudiment is one of a number of relatively small, patterns which form the foundation for more extended and complex drum patterns. The term “rudiment” in this context means not only “basic”, but also fundamental. While any level of drumming may, in some sense, be broken down by analysis into a series of component rudiments, the term “drum rudiment” is most closely associated with various forms of field drumming, also known as rudimental drumming. Rudimental drumming has something of a flexible definition, even within drumming societies devoted to that form of drumming. For example, the longest running website on rudimental drumming defines it as “the study of coordination”., whereas the Percussive Arts Society defines rudimental drumming as a particular method for learning the drums—beginning with rudiments, and gradually building up speed and complexity through practicing those rudiments. (An analogy might be made to learning the piano by first learning scales and arpeggios, as opposed to beginning by taking a full piece of music and grinding through it bit by bit, to the end.)


The origin of snare rudiments can be traced back to Swiss mercenaries armed with long polearms. The use of pikes in close formation required a great deal of coordination. The sound of the tabor was used to set the tempo and communicate commands with distinct drumming patterns. These drumming patterns became the basis of the snare drum rudiments.

The first written rudiment goes back to the year 1612 in Basel, Switzerland. The cradle of rudimental drumming is said to be France, where professional drummers became part of the King’s honour guard in the 17th and 18th centuries. The craft was perfected during the reign of Napoleon I. Le Rigodon is one of the cornerstones of modern rudimental drumming.

There have been many attempts to formalize a standard list of snare drum rudiments. The National Association of Rudimental Drummers, an organization established to promote rudimental drumming, put forward a list of 13 essential rudiments, and later a second set of 13 to form the original 26. The Percussive Arts Society reorganized the first 26 and added another 14 to form the current 40 International Drum Rudiments. Currently, the International Association of Traditional Drummers is working to once again promote the original 26 rudiments.

Today there are four main Rudimental Drumming cultures: Swiss Basler Trommeln, Scottish Pipe Drumming, American Ancient Drumming, and American Modern Drumming.


single stroke
A stroke performs a single percussive note. There are four basic single strokes.
double stroke
A double stroke consists of two single strokes played by the same hand (either RR or LL).
A diddle is a double stroke played at the current prevailing speed of the piece. For example, if a sixteenth-note passage is being played then any diddles in that passage would consist of sixteenth notes.
A paradiddle consists of two single strokes followed by a double stroke, i.e., RLRR or LRLL. When multiple paradiddles are played in succession, the first note always alternates between right and left. Paradiddles are often used to switch hands. Paradiddles are a quick sucession of drumbeats slower than a roll.
A drag is a double stroke played at twice the speed of their context in which they are placed. For example, if a sixteenth-note passage is being played then any drags in that passage would consist of thirty-second notes. Drags can also be played as grace notes. When played as grace notes on timpani, the drag becomes three single (alternating) strokes (rlR or lrL).
A flam consists of two single strokes played by alternating hands (RL or LR). The first stroke is a quieter grace note followed by a louder primary stroke on the opposite hand. The two notes are played almost simultaneously, and are intended to sound like a single, broader note. The temporal distance between the grace note and the primary note can vary depending on the style and context of the piece being played.
Drum rolls are various techniques employed to produce a sustained, continuous sound.

40 P.A.S. International Drum Rudiments
Rudiments according to the Percussive Arts Society.

Roll rudiments
Single stroke rudiments. The single-stroke roll consists of alternating sticking (i.e., RLRL, etc.) of indeterminate speed and length.

Multiple bounce roll rudiments
Double stroke open roll rudiments. There are 10 official variants of the double-stroke roll.

Diddle rudiments
Flam rudiments
Drag rudiments
Historical organization (Standard 26 American Drum Rudiments)
Thirteen “essential” rudiments
The Double Stroke Open Roll
The Five Stroke Roll
The Seven Stroke Roll
The Flam
The Flam Accent
The Flam Paradiddle
The Flamacue
The Drag (Half Drag or Ruff)
The Single Drag Tap
The Double Drag Tap
The Double Paradiddle
The Single Ratamacue
The Triple Ratamacue
Second thirteen rudiments
The Single Stroke Roll
The Nine Stroke Roll
The Ten Stroke Roll
The Eleven Stroke Roll
The Thirteen Stroke Roll
The Fifteen Stroke Roll
The Flam Tap
The Single Paradiddle
The Drag Paradiddle No. 1
The Drag Paradiddle No. 2
The Flam Paradiddle-diddle
The Lesson 25
The Double Ratamacue
Last fourteen rudiments

More recently, the Percussive Arts Society added 14 more rudiments to extend the list to the current 40 International Drum Rudiments. Note that the ordering was completely changed during this last re-organization, so these numbers won’t match those above.

The Single Stroke Four
The Single Stroke Seven
The Multiple Bounce Roll
The Triple Stroke Roll
The Six Stroke Roll
The Seventeen Stroke Roll
The Triple Paradiddle
The Single Paradiddle-Diddle
The Single Flammed Mill
The Pataflafla
The Swiss Army Triplet
The Inverted Flam Tap
The Flam Drag
The Single Dragadiddle
Notable contributors

John S. Pratt: author, composer, arranger, Former U.S. Military Academy instructor, Founder of the International Association of Traditional Drummers (IATD)
Charley Wilcoxon: instructor, author, and teacher
Dante Agostini, French instructor, author and teacher
Dr. Fritz R. Berger, inventor of the Berger-Notation, Basel Switzerland
J. Burns Moore: instructor, author, and teacher
George Lawrence Stone: instructor, author, and teacher
Earl Sturtze: instructor, author, and teacher; Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps
Les Parks: instructor and arranger, Sons of Liberty Fife and Drum Corps, Hawthorne Cabaleros, Garfield Cadets
Fred Sanford: instructor and arranger, Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps
Ralph Hardimon: instructor and arranger, Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps
Tom Float: instructor and arranger, Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps
Marty Hurley: instructor and arranger, Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps during the 1970s and early ’80s
Paul Rennick: instructor and arranger, Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps: 2003–2010, Santa Clara Vanguard 2011
Scott Johnson: instructor and arranger, Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps
James Campbell: instructor and arranger, The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps
Bret Kuhn: instructor and arranger, The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps
Dennis DeLucia: instructor and arranger, Bridgemen Drum and Bugle Corps
Thom Hannum: instructor and arranger, Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps
Charley Poole, Jr. instructor and arranger, 27th Lancers Drum and Bugle Corps
Frank Arsenault: contributor to the selection of the standard 26 rudiments, and a nationwide American teacher known for his official recording of The 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments and Selected Solos
William F. Ludwig: organizer of and contributor to the selection of the standard 26 rudiments, owner of Ludwig Drum Company
Hybrid rudiments

Over the years, many other rudimental patterns have been informally identified and given creative names, although most of these are based upon the original 40. They are commonly known as “hybrid rudiments” or “hybrids,” and are especially common in drumlines and drum corps. A few notable examples are the Herta, which is a drag played with alternating sticking, the Cheese, a diddle with a grace note, and the Eggbeater, a five-tuplet with the sticking “rrrll”; indeed, these hybrids have themselves given way to more innovative and arguably more difficult hybrids, “Cheese Invert” (an inverted flam tap with cheeses instead of flams) and the “Diddle-Egg-Five” (a paradiddle-diddle followed by an Eggbeater and two diddles, one on each hand). Hybrid rudiments are becoming increasingly important to a marching percussionist’s rudimental vocabulary. Due to the differences in naming and origins of these numerous hybrid rudiments, a growing list of the most common can be found at the Hybrid Rudiment Library. Also one of the largest lists online can be found at http://www.ninjadrummist.com/drum-rudiments/hybrid-rudiments

DOWNLOAD First 13 Rudiments (NARD)
DOWNLOAD Final Rudiments (NARD)


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