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The djembe

How To Play Djembe

Djembe Lessons

Paradiddles

Paradiddles originated in the drum corp (military drumming) and aren't strictly a West African technique, but any drummer worth his or her salt will tell you how valuable they are as an exercise.

Funny name, paradiddles, but it likely comes from the sound made on the drum by playing them. The idea is an advancement of the technique of the roll or rumble, and is done by playing a simple roll, but repeating some of the notes with the same hand. The repeated notes are called the 'diddle'.

It's easier to understand with a chart:

The Single Paradiddle
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Pa ra did dle Pa ra did dle

Notice how the first 3 notes are played with alternating hands, but the 4th beat is played with the same hand as the 3rd. In the second bar the same thing happens, but with opposite hands to the first bar.

Start this exercise very slowly, and make sure the notes are of equal length - keep it smooth, even and continuous!

A Step Further

The double paradiddle plays four alternating notes before the diddle, as shown below.

The Double Paradiddle
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
Pa ra pa ra did dle pa ra pa ra did dle

Even Further Now...

The triple paradiddle plays six alternating notes before the diddle. The exercise has been broken up into two charts, but should flow seamlessly from one chart to the next.

The Triple Paradiddle
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Pa ra pa ra pa ra did dle pa ra pa ra pa ra did dle

And finally...

Once you've got a grip of this exercise, reverse the hands.

The Single Paradiddle
1 + 2 + 3 +
Pa ra did dle did dle

There you have it! You can mix it up by playing them as bass notes or slaps too, and you can make it even more interesting by playing all tones with one hand and all bass notes with the other!


Next article: Muted Tone