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 as a rudiment 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 only around 13 being invented in America.
Rudiments with an asterisk* are NARD 26 selections, all of which appear on the PAS 40 and thus are also on this timeline.
Baron von Steuben listed some rudiments in his 1779 Regulations, including the poing stroke, flam, 10 stroke, and full drag, but without notation.
1779 – Flam* [#20]
1779 – 10 Stroke Roll* [#11]
In c. 1797-1800, 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.
1797 – Single Stroke 4 [#2]
1797 – Double Stroke Open Roll* [#6]
1797 – 5 Stroke Roll* [#7]
1797 – 7 Stroke Roll* [#9]
1797 – 9 Stroke Roll* [#10]
1797 – Flam Paradiddle* [#24]
1797 – Single Paradiddle* [#16]
1797 – Drag* [#31]
1797 – Single Drag Tap* [#32]
1797 – Double Drag Tap* [#33]
A Drummer’s Book of Music or Revolutionary War Drummer’s Book both seemingly refer to the same manuscript. It is often dated to 1778 but an 1804 watermark in the paper on which it was written means it cannot have been written before that date. It is sometimes attributed to Levi Lovering. These rudiments first appeared here.
1804 – 11 Stroke Roll* [#12]
1804 – Flam Tap* [#22]
1804 – Single Ratamacue*† [#38]
†the rudiment here is “like” a ratamacue, but not precisely a ratamacue. If you want to be especially picky, a more standard ratamacue appears in Ashworth in 1812.
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 rudiments make their first appearance under different names:
1810 – 15 Stroke Roll* [#14]
1810 – Flam Accent* [#21]
1810 – Lesson 25*† [#34]
†the lesson 25 appeared in earlier books, but was never listed as a rudiment under any name.
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 but served in the US Marines and contributed these 4 rudiments to the American written record:
1812 – Double Paradiddle* [#17]
1812 – Flam Paradiddle-diddle* [#26]
1812 – Inverted Flam Tap [#29]
1812 – Double Ratamacue* [#39]
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 [#8]
Alvan Robinson’s Massachusetts Collection: Martial Musick of 1818 was the first instance of the pataflafla under a different name, flam a two and then one flam. This is somewhat misleading, however. Robinson’s rudiment is often assumed to be in 6/8 time, rather than the straight time of the modern pataflafla. Elias Howe would reiterate Robinson in 1861, with no further clarification. The modern pataflafla would not really appear in an instructional book until 1957, with Vince L. Mott. It was published in the NARD book of solos by Fritz Berger in 1937, but not named.
1818 – Pataflafla [#27]
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 new, but had never been explicitly named) [#1]
1862 – Single Stroke 7 [#3]
1862 – 13 Stroke Roll* [#13]
1862 – Flamacue* [#23]
1862 – Drag Paradiddle #1* [#36]
1862 – Triple Ratamacue* [#40]
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* [#37]
In 1931, George Lawrence Stone labels 17 stroke rolls in his Military Drum Beats, though he does not list them as a rudiment in the front of the book with the others. Paul Yoder’s Rubank Elementary Method of 1935 seems to be the first American book to actually explicitly indicate a 17 stroke roll as a rudiment, though a roll lasting for the duration of a half note (unlabeled), leading players to naturally use a 17 stroke roll, was not a new idea and had been written for many decades.
1931 – 17 Stroke Roll [#15]
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 [#18]
John Pratt used the Swiss Army Triplet in some of his solos in the late 1950s and this may be the first time they were intentionally written in the USA.
1950s? – Swiss Army Triplet [#28]
†The Swiss army triplet rhythm and sticking was used exactly in 1862 by H.C. Hart, but not named or explained. In 1911 Harry Bower used the same rhythms and sticking 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.
Sam Ulano’s Practical Study Charts for Drummers 3 of 1959 explicitly mentions the triple stroke roll. There was an issue of The School Musician from 1941 that mentions the triple stroke roll but states, “Theoretically such a roll is produced with 3 taps of the stick…actually the production of such a roll isn’t possible.” It also states “old-timers” used to talk about it.
1959 – Triple Stroke Roll* [#5]
Joe Morello’s Rudimental Jazz of 1967 is the first mention I’ve seen of a paradiddle-diddle without the flam. It is noted in the book as not being a traditional rudiment.
1967 – Single Paradiddle-diddle [#19]
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 was mentioned often in American publications, but only in direct opposition to open rudimental or “military style” rolls — what NOT to do as a rudimental player. T.M. Lommell argues in a 1969 paper that this type of roll should be considered a rudiment.
1969 – Multiple Bounce Roll [#4]
Thomas P. Brown’s 1972 article “Diddly Diddles” in Percussive Notes gives us one of the earliest published references to what we now call a dragadiddle and the Swiss single flammed mill. He credits the invention of the dragadiddle, at some previous but unspecified time, to John Davidson of the Buccaneers Drum and Bugle Corps. Though not published anywhere I have seen, it has been reported that these were in use in the Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps by 1954, under the name ruffadiddle, which would push their appearance back nearly 20 years.
1972 – Single Dragadiddle [#35]
1972 – Single Flammed Mill [#25]
The flam drag appears in a 1974 article in Percussive Notes by Dan Spalding where he argues for the existence of 81 rudiments, many of which are Hybrids or Swiss selections. This appears to be the most recently invented rudiment from the PAS 40.
1974 – Flam Drag [#30]
In total, it took 195 years after the first American rudimental publication to see every one of the 40 rudiments that would eventually be deemed worthy of official study by the PAS committee. We were 78% (31 rudiments) of the way there after just 91 years, or about half of the time span, and it took another 105 years for the remaining 12% (9 rudiments) to filter in.
As I mentioned above, most rudiments were imported from Britain, with just a few coming more directly from France or Switzerland. There are around 12 rudiments that do appear to be American inventions. (There has been an assertion that paradiddles and several of their early variations were British in origin, but there is no concrete evidence of paradiddles existing before the American Revolution.)
The American-made rudiments include the Single Paradiddle and Flam Paradiddle of 1797, the Single Ratamacue, the Double Paradiddle, Flam Paradiddle-Diddle, and Double Ratamacue of 1812, the Flamacue and Triple Ratamacue of 1862, and the Triple Paradiddle of 1937, the Paradiddle-Diddle of 1967, the Dragadiddle of 1972, and the Flam Drag of 1974.
The only paradiddle variations that are most likely imported are the Drag Paradiddles #1 and #2 and the Flammed Mill. 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 27 of our 40 are imports at some level, 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 8-10 rudiments (those added in the 20th century) please contact me. I’ll be happy to hear any new info and adjust this list accordingly.