The 16 Most Common International Drum Rudiments

June 2021

Ina previous article, I theoretically calculated how many rudiments were the optimum number for a rudimental system. This was mathematical, but not necessarily practical or realistic. Looking at which rudiments actually appear most often throughout the world’s rudimental cultures should be a better gauge of which rudiments and how many are important on a global scale. I analyzed the rudiments from 22 national or regional systems, plus the modern hybrid system, to see which patters occurred in the largest number of different systems. Some rudiments, like the single stroke roll, long roll, and flam, appear in all (or nearly all) of the systems. Some other rudiments are specific to a given culture and appear only in one place. Still others, the ones I am interested in, appear in several areas of the world and are fairly common, if not ubiquitous. The assumption I am making here is that the most useful rudiments will be the most common across differing cultures.

Included below are rudiments that appear in at least 7 traditions — 30% or more of the surveyed systems. Expanding the list further to get to, say, the ideal 24 rudiments would have meant including rudiments that actually appear in very few systems. Similarly, sticking with only patterns that appeared in a larger percentage of systems resulted in a list that was humorously short. A minimum of 7 traditions is arbitrary, but offers a good balance between how common the rudiments really are, and how long the resulting list is.

Here are the 16 rudiments by their American names: Single Stroke Roll, 4 Stroke Ruff, Double Stroke Roll, 5 Stroke Roll, Flammed 5 Stroke Roll, 7 Stroke Roll, 9 Stroke Roll, 11 Stroke Roll, Single Paradiddle, Flam, Charge Stroke, Swiss Army Triplet, Drag, Single Drag Tap, Double Drag Tap, Flammed Drag. Some are obviously NARD or PAS standard rudiments, but a few others are fairly abnormal to the American player.

On the linked sheet, the rudiments are listed by their American names, with an accompanying selection of their names in other languages. Several rhythmic or sticking interpretations are included for each general idea, where applicable.

Of course, rudiment sheets are not always that interesting, so I have taken the liberty of writing “Another Wilcoxon 73” in which the structure and essence of “Solo No. 73” from All American Drummer has been retained, but all the rudiments have been replaced exclusively with selections from the “Most Common International Rudiments” sheet. For example, the sheet has no 13 stroke roll, so the new solo uses 11 stroke rolls whenever a 13 stroke appears in the original. The original solo, in turn, has no charge strokes, so I have added a couple in for extra flavor. I continued in this way until all the rudiments in the solo were on the sheet and all the rudiments on the sheet were in the solo. Enjoy.