I've been learning paradiddle variations and I've come across one called the "Inverted Paradiddle".

I'm not sure if this is a standard naming convention but what it means is instead of a normal single paradiddle.

Rlrr Lrll

We have this "Inverted" version.

Rllr Lrrl

My question is how is this an "Inversion"?

There are four different variations of the single paradiddle you can get by shifting where the accents are and by the resource I'm going from they are:

Single: Rlrr Lrll
Inverted: Rllr Lrrl
Reverse: Rrlr Llrl
Outward: Rlrl Lrlr

Reverse kind of makes sense since it's sort of played backwards.

  • Few things, 1) can you post notation or at least use case (RlrrLrll) to indicate accents? 2) Where did you get these definitions from? 3) A lot of "hybrid" rudiments are just called whatever by whoever came up with them. I guess we could still reason why someone might call it "inverted", but I don't think that's a standard musical term.
    – Edward
    May 21, 2021 at 4:15
  • The only thing I can tell is if you start the normal on the 4th or 8th stroke you have a regular paradiddle but that’s more like displacement. May 21, 2021 at 4:18
  • Is this from Drumeo - Dorothea Taylor?
    – Tim
    May 21, 2021 at 5:23
  • To 'invert' a chord means to change the order its notes are played in. CEG - root, EGC - 1st inversion, GCE - 2nd inversion. It's the same concept with paradiddles. Move the 1st note from the start to the end, 1st inversion. Move the next, 2nd, and so on.
    – Tim
    May 21, 2021 at 5:43
  • @Edward, This was just on a sheet that my drum teacher had. I am curious if anybody else has seen this term. Not surprised it may not be standard.
    – Nick
    May 21, 2021 at 5:53

3 Answers 3



The Inverted version, can be though of as:

  • first shifting the starting position of the paradiddle pattern by one position to the right : LRRL RLLR

  • but then, because we want to start with the right hand, we have to swap Lefts and Rights ("inverting"):

The Reverse is a shift of the original pattern by two position to the right. And the Outward is a shift by three.

Both the Reverse and Outward patterns don't need to swap Lefts and Rights compared to the original, because they already begin on a Right.

  • So to sum up, this is the only shift that causes the set of 8 hits to be led by a left? I like it. Not that I play it by starting with my left but it seems believable.
    – Nick
    May 21, 2021 at 5:56
  • @Nick - that's one of the points of paradiddles - to create independence for both hands. Not always 'leading with the right' -which I'm trying hard to correct. And by varying which hit/s get the emphasis, paradiddles cover an awful lot - especially when they're not all done on one drum.
    – Tim
    May 21, 2021 at 6:56
  • Shifting by 4,5,6,7 is equivalent to shifting by 0,2,1,3 and swapping Lefts and Rights May 21, 2021 at 7:50

"Inversion" in music is sometimes closer to "rotation" ("chord inversions" in particular). The difference in the various paradiddles is the starting place, which is equivalent to changing the position of the accents.

^ ^^  ^
| ||  |
  ||  |
  ||  Inverted

Or, put another way:

Inverted:       RLL RLRR L    = RLLR LRRL
Reverse:    RR LRLL RL        = RRLR LLRL
Outward:     R LRLL RLR       = RLRL LRLR

This begs the question of the remaining "inversions". Note first that all would start with the left hand.

LRRL RLLR = inverted, starting on second group
LRLL RLRR = single, starting on second group
LLRL RRLR = reverse, starting on second group
LRLR RLRL = outward, starting on second group
  • This is an interesting way to generate the variations. I was doing it by shifting the pattern of 4 around but this picks a right hand to start on based on the whole set of 8. Inverted is the standout by being in the second group here. I think this is the most likely answer into the brain of the person who thought of these names.
    – Nick
    May 21, 2021 at 6:01
  • "Inversion" in music is more like "permutation": that statement is overbroad. It's certainly not true of the inversion of a contrapuntal theme or of a serial tone row. Further, it seems to me that "rotation" better describes the operation you're writing about than "permutation." While rotations are a subset of permutations, a permutation that isn't a rotation would yield a figure that isn't a paraddidle (for example, a strict alternation between right and left).
    – phoog
    May 21, 2021 at 18:06

In my mind rudiment inversions are akin to chord inversions. For example, with a C Major 7 chord (for an equal number of notes to invert) you would have C-E-G-B. Hopefully the following table illustrates my way of thinking clearly:

C7 chord Paradiddle Inversion
CEGB Rlrr Lrll None
EGBC Lrrl Rllr 1st Inv.
GBCE Rrlr Llrl 2nd Inv.
BCEG Rlrl Lrlr 3rd Inv.

At which point it wraps back around. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. inversion names aren't really used in my experience when it comes to rudiment terminology (i.e. I've never heard anyone refer to "Rrlr Llrl" as the 2nd inversion of a paradiddle), but hopefully that at least makes it clear where the terminology might have come from.

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