I have very recently tried to get a bit into very basic drumming and often read phrases like: "Start with practicing Paradiddles" or even "Paradiddlediddles".

I got that far that this has something to do with left right coordination like: L R L R etc... But what does it exactly mean? And where does the word come from?

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    It's ok to ask this, but... seriously, nine upvotes for something that can easily be looked up on Wikipedia?? Dec 31, 2017 at 11:10
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    @leftaroundabout - fair comment, but apparently we're compiling a compendium of musical knowledge that will surpass Wikipedia's, and if the info. on paradiddles is contained within, we're well on our way. Hence, with that factored in - no downvote, although yes, the answer will easily be found elsewhere. But, now, here.
    – Tim
    Jan 1, 2018 at 13:20
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    And the question of etymology, as far as I can tell, is not addressed on Wikipedia.
    – Richard
    Jan 1, 2018 at 16:39

2 Answers 2


You're close!

A paradiddle is a four-articulation pattern that alternates hands for the first three articulations but then repeats the third hand. The two patterns are L R L L and R L R R. Fancier terminology would be "alternating single strokes followed by a double stroke."

I don't know where the name comes from, but I've just always assumed it was "drummer speak" and the "diddle" mimicked the repeated hand. This hypothesis is supported by the "paradiddle diddle," which would be L R L L R R or R L R R L L.

Edit: Be sure to check out Cort Ammon's very helpful comment below regarding the meaning of "para-": "Backwards engineering the word, "para-" is a prefix that can be used for "side by side," so perhaps that might have something to do with the origin of the word?"

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    Backwards engineering the word, "para-" is a prefix that can be used for "side by side," so perhaps that might have something to do with the origin of the word?
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 31, 2017 at 4:05
  • I always just thought it was onomatopoetic. The sound of a pardiddle is similar to the phonetics of "paradiddle", which has advantages because it explains the pattern, makes it easy to remember, and can be said while playing it to help learn the pattern. Jan 30, 2018 at 18:30
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    @EricSondergard I thought that as well, but that was just an assumption. I wonder if "diddle" or "paradiddle" came first?
    – Richard
    Jan 30, 2018 at 18:31

Richard's answer above is great. I'd like to add that the down beats should be accented.

And that it is one of the basic drum rudiments. More info on rudiments can be found using you favorite search engine. Or here: http://vicfirth.com/40-essential-rudiments/

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