The PAS 40 – An American Rudimental Timeline

July 2021

In my previous article about the 1984 Percussive Arts Society (PAS) rudiments vs the 1933 National Association of Rudimental Drummers (NARD) rudiments I argued that 31 of the 40 PAS rudiments were in use at some point in American history before the establishment of NARD. I reasoned that the 31 rudiments that predate NARD should be considered “traditional” to American playing, which leaves the 8 remaining PAS rudiments as “non-traditional,” in the sense that they were added to the American rudimental percussion repertoire during the 20th century. In this article, I thought I would expand a bit upon when each of the 40 PAS rudiments was first published in the United States (as far as I can tell) so that the timeline of their addition to our American vocabulary is apparent. My research gets a bit fuzzy toward the last 6 to 8 rudiments, but the rest I am pretty confident about. Getting to our current state of percussive affairs was not a linear process and some rudiments appeared and then promptly disappeared again for many decades. Despite false starts and some prolonged intermissions, this should be an interesting look at our most familiar rudimental selections. Of course, we must assume that any new rudiment that enters the written record would have been in use by drummers for some time before anyone thought to write it down. Most drummers in the 18th and 19th centuries were taught by rote. The notation would usually lag behind the common usage, so any dates below are simply the first written occurrence (that I know of) and not the exact moment of invention or adoption from previously existing European systems. And yes, most rudiments were imported, with a rare few being purely invented in America. 

The oldest surviving rudimental manual produced in the United States dates from about 1778, when General Washington had the rebel colonial forces camped at Valley Forge. It is often referred to as A Drummer’s Book of Music or Revolutionary War Drummer’s Book as it has no definite title. Of the 18 strangely named rudiments within, we still use 13 today under these modern terms:

1778 – Single Stroke 4

1778 – Double Stroke Open Roll

1778 – 5 Stroke Roll

1778 – 7 Stroke Roll

1778 – 9 Stroke Roll

1778 – 10 Stroke Roll

1778 – 11 Stroke Roll

1778 – Single Paradiddle

1778 – Flam

1778 – Flam Tap

1778 – Flam Paradiddle

1778 – Drag

1778 – Single Ratamacue

In c. 1797, two manuals were written that contained some rudiments novel to the USA at the time. The Ben Clark Drum Book and the Isaac Day 1st Book manuscripts were similar, but not identical. Clark and Day both included the double drag tap, but only Clark included the single drag tap.

1797 – Single Drag Tap

1797 – Double Drag Tap

David Hazeltine’s Instructor in Martial Music was published in 1810. The rudiment list within was written in prose, rather than notation, but the names and descriptions made it fairly clear what rudiments he was indicating. These 3 rudiments make their first appearance under different names:

1810 – 15 Stroke Roll

1810 – Flam Accent

1810 – Lesson 25

One of the most celebrated American manuals was published in 1812. Charles Stewart Ashworth’s A New, Useful, and Complete System of Drum Beating was famously the first book to use the word “rudiment” for drum exercises. My transcription of the illegible notation into modern music can be found here. Ashworth was British-born and contributed these 4 rudiments to the American written record:

1812 – Double Paradiddle

1812 – Flam Paradiddle-diddle

1812 – Inverted Flam Tap

1812 – Double Ratamacue

Rumrille and Holton’s The Drummer’s Instructor or Martial Musician was published in 1817 and gave us the first instance of the 6 stroke roll. 

1817 – 6 Stroke Roll

Alvan Robinson’s Massachusetts Collection: Martial Musick of 1818 was the first instance of the pataflafla under a different name.

1818 – Pataflafla

1862 was a good year for drumming, though a terrible year for America. Many manuals were published out of necessity during the Civil War. Bruce and Emmett’s The Drummers’ and Fifers’ Guide and H.C. Hart’s New and Improved Instructor for the Drum both introduced a few new rudiments to the record, totalling 6 all together:

1862 – Single Stroke Roll (not really new, but had never been explicitly named a rudiment)

1862 – Single Stroke 7

1862 – 13 Stroke Roll

1862 – Flamacue

1862 – Drag Paradiddle #1

1862 – Triple Ratamacue

In 1869, Gardiner Strube published his Drum and Fife Instructor, which introduced the drag paradiddle #2 among its 25 lessons. Strube gave us the ridiculous lesson 25 naming convention and his 25 rudiments became the NARD 26, after a single addition. 

1869 – Drag Paradiddle #2

Paul Yoder’s Rubank Elementary Method of 1935 seems to be the first American book to actually explicitly indicate a 17 stroke roll, though a roll lasting for the same duration as our modern conception of the 17 stroke was not a new idea. 

1935 – 17 Stroke Roll

J. Burns Moore published his Art of Drumming in 1937, which featured just one rudiment not mentioned in the NARD 26, the triple paradiddle.

1937 – Triple Paradiddle

As far as I can tell, one of the earliest American references to a triple stroke roll was in a publication called Sam Ulano’s Practical Study Charts for Drummers 3. I am not entirely certain this is the origin, however, as there was a triple stroked roll in traditional German playing. It could have been used in America before, but I have not seen it.

1959 – Triple Stroke Roll

The single flammed mill and Swiss army triplet may have been introduced to America by Fritz Berger or Alfons Grieder from Basel Switzerland sometime between the 1930s and 1960s. They appear in a 1980 article in the periodical Percussive Notes as Basel rudiments, though not seemingly ones that Americans would be likely to know. In 1981 they appeared in another issue of Percussive Notes as a corps-style rudiments. This same article also mentions the flam drag.

1981 – Single Flammed Mill

1981 – Flam Drag

1981 – Swiss Army Triplet*

*the Swiss army triplet rhythm and sticking was used exactly in 1911 by Harry Bower for his Open Triple Roll, though the fact that he was using this pattern as a roll in a classically motivated method book makes it hard to assign this to him as a rudimental non-roll in the way we currently play it, but I had to mention it.

As for the remaining 3 rudiments, my expertise becomes a bit thin. I am unsure when they were first published as American rudiments. The multiple bounce roll had been a part of classical music for centuries, but made its way into American style rudimental drumming quite late. It is unclear if it was ever really considered a rudiment before the PAS sheet. It was mentioned often in American publications but only in opposition to rudimental or “military style” rolls. The single paradiddle-diddle seems obvious, since there was a flam paradiddle-diddle already, but it does not seem to appear in published rudimental resources before the PAS sheet. The dragadiddle was pulled from hybrid drum corps repertoire at some point but similarly does not seem to appear in publications before the PAS 40. I would appreciate any help that anyone can offer with these final rudiments. They’ll be listed below as 1984 until I find otherwise:

1984 – Multiple Bounce Roll

1984 – Single Paradiddle-diddle

1984 – Single Dragadiddle

I can pretty confidently say the final 3 were added to American playing after 1933 and by 1984. That’s a pretty wide window, but much smaller than the preceding 155 years. 

Some interesting things spring forth when we look at the rudiments in this way, even without perfect certainty on the last 6-8 rudiments. The two largest explosions of new American rudimental usage occurred during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, with 13 and 6 rudiments added to the repertoire respectively. This makes sense. War was the time when rudimental drumming was the most necessary from a practical signaling standpoint. The 4 additions during the War of 1812 follow this logic and added together we get 23 rudiments that made their written record debut during a major conflict. The ratamacues are also interesting in that there is a 34 year gap between the introduction of the single and the double, and then a further 50 years between the double and the triple. Conversely, the two drag paradiddles were recorded just 8 years apart. As I mentioned above, most rudiments were imported from Britain, with just a few coming more directly from France or Switzerland. There are some rudiments that do appear to be American inventions. These include the Flamacue of 1862, the Drag Paradiddle #2 of 1870, and the Dragadiddle and Flam Drag of the late 20th century. There were several other American-invented rudiments over the years that did not make it to the PAS 40, and have been essentially “lost” to history, though some can be found on my Other 26 sheet or in Encyclopedia Rudimentia, so our standard rudimental list could have been much more endemic. As it stands, about 36 of our 40 are imports, though this is simply the way of rudimental drumming. Old ideas are built upon and new ideas are sometimes regarded with suspicion. In this way we are directly linked to the drummers of 600+ years ago, playing some of the same patterns they must have played on the battlefields of the Middle Ages.

If you think I made a mistake, or can offer definite insight into the final 8 rudiments, please contact me. I’ll be happy to hear any new info and adjust this list accordingly.