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I've been trying to get some basic understanding of drumming. The first thing I came across is rudiments. Some have likened it to practicing scales for melodic instruments.

But I was wondering if like scales, do rudiments serve as a basis for the songs we hear everyday? Are songs comprised of combinations of drum rudiments? (and if not, then maybe they are not as important as scales?)

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Rudiments are compared to scales in the way that scales are an exercise for warming up your fingers, working on speed or getting certain motions in to your hands/fingers.

They can be used in the same way, as warmups, as speed exercises and to get certain aspects of technique down. Just like you might hear a scale run in a song or a partial scale run in a song you may very well hear parts or all of a rudiments in a song but that doesn’t mean a drummer will use strictly rudiments to make up all of his playing the same way you wouldn’t go to classical concert and have the pianist playing only scales.

Typical drum set rhythms are not derived from rudiments but certain fills can contain rudiments and there are certain simple rudiments such as a flam that are used extensively.

Drum Corp or marching band drummers will use rudiments a ton, especially the snare drum player. If you want to hear rudiments played at their finest check out some marching snare playing.

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Drum rudiments are really more about the technique of playing. How to stick. Scales can't really be seen in the same way. Rudiments came about as the building blocks of play - mainly if not exclusively on snare. Since drum playing is simpler than piano, for instance, given that with piano it's not only the duration (rhythm) but specific notes at the same time, it's important to be conversant with how each rudiment gets played, stick-wise. (If you dv me for that, please mention it in a comment - it's not meant in a derogatory way).

Scales could be seen as building blocks for melody instruments, but I feel they don't compare too well to drum rudiments.

So, in answer - not per se. The elements contained in them get used all the time - especially when playing drum breaks at the end of a line/verse/chorus. The rudiments themselves are small pieces of the jigsaw that drummers use when putting together a roll, etc. A drum pattern played while the singer is singing may contain a drag in each bar, or an occasional diddle, and often, several will be strung together, but scales; they're usually played bottom>top>bottom. So not comparable.

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If you're fairly loose with the terminology, all common rock and pop songs are made up of only rudiments. You could look at practically every simple beat as combinations of unisons and one-handed rolls. Simple fills are often just single stroke rolls incorporating broken sixteenth notes and similar concepts covered by practically every book on rudiments.

Linear drumming is a concept which should also be discussed here. The broad idea behind linear drumming is using only one voice (which may or may not be accented, and could be played on the bass, cymbal, or snare, and sometimes even a tom) at each subdivision. Many peoples' go-to technique for making linear gooves is the first page of the iconic rudiments book by George Stone, Stick Control for the Snare drummer. If you look at the transcription for any linear groove, you're probably going to see some very strong indications of an origin in padadiddles. As a matter of fact, some linear drumming books teach you the grooves by starting off with rudiments and then just making a couple of orchestration changes across different parts of the kit.

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