Jan 122011

Here’s an interesting invention of mine. Yeah, I invented this, sure … so give me all the credit and royalties when y’all swipe it. (Ok, I know lots of other people practice like this, but it’s a new thing for me anyway.)

this is a new right-hand exercise that I’ve been using on flatpick guitar and on fiddle. I’m applying the concept of “paradiddles” from drum vocabulary to picking and bowing.

If you’re not familiar with paradiddles and other drum rudiments, just search the web and you’ll find lots about it. The key advantage of pulling paradiddles into picking and bowing is that they strengthen the independence of each stroke, make timing tighter, and thus richer and more explosive tone follows. A drummer wants left stick and right stick to be precise and independent. The same goes for pickers and fiddlers–work on these exercises to make your down stroke and up stroke more precise and independent.

Here are the three basic paradiddle exercises. Find a comfortable, relaxed speed on your metronome, and let your muscles nerd up for a while on this. The “d” means down stroke, “u” means up stroke. Play these patterns over some scales, one measure per scale tone. Or, get creative and play multiple scale tones per measure.

1. A measure of eighth notes: du dd ud uu

2. A measure of eighth-note triplets: dud udd udu duu

3. A measure of sixteenth notes: dudu dudd udud uduu

So there it is, just a simple idea that it’s good to break the “down followed by up followed by down” rule. Try doing these three exercises for a minute every day for the next week, and see if it helps your tone and timing. Then you can push the boundaries by playing these patterns at faster speeds, and by creating more complex patterns. Again, the goal here is that each stroke can be independent of the one before it, breaking the down-up-down-up habit.

I don’t recommend application of these paradiddles in actual performances. It’s just an exercise, just spending time in the gym to get ready for the tennis tournament.

I have some other right-hand exercises for guitar here at my music site.


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