Think you've mastered paradiddles? This monstrous Thomas Lang lesson might well change your mind

We all know the humble paradiddle - it’s part of most drummers' first lessons, mixing up singles and doubles for one of the most useful and versatile stickings we’re likely to learn.

“But paradiddles are easy, and I got them down years ago!” Well, Thomas Lang popped into the Drumeo studio for a recording of The Drum Department Podcast with Drumeo founder, Jared Falk and co-host, Dave Atkinson, and delivered just under an hour of paradiddle tips and advice that might make you think again.

Single paradiddle

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Making his first appearance at Drumeo in nine years, Lang first clarifies exactly what a paradiddle is, and as with so many rudiments, the clue is in its onomatopoeic title. 

For right-handed players, the sticking goes: R-L-R-R (par-a-diddle). Of course, paradiddles alternate between the hands, so it’s followed by a second paradiddle, this time leading with the left hand: L-R-L-L (reverse both stickings if you're a lefty). Stick an accent on the first single of each and, there you have it.

But this is Thomas Lang, so first up he demonstrates moving the accent throughout the paradiddle’s sticking before immediately demonstrating the paradiddle’s use within a groove between the hi-hat and snare with varying bass drum patterns. 

By the time the video gets to 10 minutes, Thomas has delivered enough inspiration to keep most people busy for a while, but then he moves to the cowbell to demonstrate paradiddles played over a quarter-note pulse (played on his ‘foot snare’, obviously), except now they’re displaced as he cycles through starting the paradiddles through different sub-divisions of the pulse.

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If your brain hasn’t melted just yet, for his next demonstration Thomas moves the paradiddle to the feet and doubles it in unison with his hands. Easy? Not when he starts to then displace the paradiddles played in his hands in relation to his feet. Remember, this is the guy who shot to fame with a DVD called Creative Control… 

Elsewhere in the video, Lang shows us how to apply the paradiddle to an impromptu selection of songs from the Bee Gees, Tears For Fears, Metallica and Rush, how to combine inverted paradiddles with paradiddles in parallel between the hands and feet, and shares his approach to practicing with purpose in order to reach his goals.

So, grab a pad and keep in mind what Thomas Lang says, “They’re just paradiddles!”.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.