Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Rudiments Are Very Important ...

“... and some day I hope to study them."

I've actually heard a number of excellent drummers say this. While I think most drummers would concur that rudiments can be important, I also think that, while they do hope to study them, they admit it’s at the bottom of their bucket list.

So I have to ask, if rudiments are so flaming important, how come nobody is working on them? Well that's not quite true. I've seen a lot of articles and online videos that use rudiments as a basis for rhythmic development. But basing something on a rudiment is a long way from studying “The Rudiments.”

Simply put, the traditional 40 rudiments are not very relevant in today’s music environment. You heard me... not relevant. I'm not saying useless or without value. There are some real gems among the rudiments, and some people have come up with some inspired interpretations. But as core study material, the rudiments have little to offer today's drum set player.

The rudiments were developed to manage the movements of an army. Each rudiment sound was a signal that conveyed a specific meaning: go forward, turn left, duck. The sounds are also pretty good accompaniment for marching tunes, but they are military all the way. Some of the patterns have been around for a thousand years or more. Most of them are a few hundred years old at least. The drum set itself, barely a hundred years old, came along well after the rudiments were laid down.

I know you've learned some rudiments and that you use them all the time. That's good. You find good ideas wherever you can. But isn't it about time we stopped looking at the rudiments as some sort of holy grail or revealed truth? And maybe while we're at it, we should stop feeling guilty about not finding them useful … or even interesting.

So the old saying applies: “Take what you like and leave the rest.” And don’t worry if you never get around to the rudiments. You have lots of company.

Want to find out more about rudiments? Check out these organizations:

Percussive Arts Society -
National Association of Rudimental Drummers -