Applying rudiments to the drum set allows us to explore numerous possibilities for fill creation. The first step is to choose a rudiment you have a firm grasp on with a practice pad. The next step is usually to play it on the drum set applying different orchestrations. Unfortunately, this can often lead to an exhaustive list of ideas that may be great for the practice room but not necessarily practical for situational playing.

To break out of a rudimental rut you must change your thinking. One quick way is by simply altering the rhythmic template. In this lesson we apply this method to the Swiss Army Triplet, which is three eighth-notes to a beat with a flam on every downbeat. By compressing it into a grouping of three sixteenth-notes we open our world to a whole new application for Swiss Amy triplet that has been utilized by great drummers such as Tony Williams and J. R. Robinson.

Start by playing simple eighth-note triplets for one bar followed by a bar of sixteenth-notes to ensure your note placement is accurate (Ex. 1). Start with a hand-to-hand sticking but explore different stickings as your comfort level increases.

Ex. 1

Now introduce the Swiss Army Triplet by adding the flam. In measure two, where it converts to sixteenths, stop on beat 4 to allow this phrase to “reset” (Ex. 2). In this example we are using a left-handed flam sticking. This is going to free up the right hand for drum set mobility.

Ex. 2

Next, shift the flam in the first measure to occur on the second partial of the triplet (Ex. 3). This shift creates a right hand on the down beat of beats 1 and 4 of measure two, which will allow easy entry and exit when applying to the kit.

Ex. 3


Let’s take a look at what rhythm each hand is producing when the Swiss Army Triplet is played as sixteenth-notes with our displaced flam version (Ex. 4).

Ex. 4

Note where the hands meet to facilitate the flam (Ex. 5).

Ex. 5

Now play a four-bar phrase consisting of three bars of groove and one bar of the sixteenth-note based Swiss Army Triplet rudiment (Ex. 6).

Ex. 6

As previously mentioned, this particular sticking and flam placement allows for a right hand on the downbeat of beats 1 and 4 within this fill, making it very friendly for adding a small lead-in fill and exit fill (Ex. 7). Be sure to accent the flams.

Ex. 7

Next, try moving the right hand around the toms (Ex. 8).

Ex. 8

Finally, add some cymbals and bass drum action to the mix (Ex. 9).

Ex. 9

By changing the traditional note value associated with a rudiment and adding drum set orchestration, we are able to take a basic rudiment and turn it into a very useable drum fill. Try creating new versions of other standard rudiments and find your own voice on the drum set.

Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.