Single Stroke Four

In this free drum lesson, Lionel Duperron teaches you how to practice the single stroke four, and how to apply it to the drum set through a couple of drum beats and drum fills. The single stroke four is a based on the single stroke roll, and thus is another pattern from the single stroke family of drum rudiments.

Whether you’re brand new to the 40 drum rudiments, or a more experienced drummer, we encourage you to take a look at the free drum lesson on the single stroke roll before attempting to learn the single stroke four. You can also use that lesson to get some ideas on how to apply the single stroke roll to the drum set.

The single stroke four is a variation of the single stroke roll. Taking a look at the sheet music below, you can see that much like the single stroke roll, the single stroke four is played with alternating single strokes. However, while the single stroke roll is comprised of a consecutive stream of strokes (also known as a roll), the single stroke four has four consecutive single strokes instead.

The single stroke four is usually played as 8th note triplets or as 16th note triplets. The single stroke four can be counted as 1 trip let 2 3 trip let 4, when played as 8th note triplets, and as 1 trip let and 2 trip let and 3 trip let and 4 triplet and, when played as 16th note triplets. Since the single stroke four does not naturally alternate within itself, practice leading it with both hands. Strive for playing consistent sounding strokes.

Drum Beats

Exercise #1 is an 8th note triplet drum beat. Start by playing a basic quarter note rock drum beat – bass drum on counts 1 and 3, snare drum on counts 2 and 4, hi-hat on all quarter notes. Once that feels comfortable to you, remove the hi-hat stroke on count 4. Finally, play two extra hi-hat strokes on count 3 as 8th note triplets. As you can see on the sheet music below, the single stroke four is played between the hi-hat on count 3 and the snare drum on count 4.

In the video, Lionel leads the single stroke four with his left hand. You can use whatever hand feels more comfortable to you. What matters here is that you play the single stroke four accurately – consistent sounding and evenly spaced strokes.

Exercise #2 is an 8th note triplet tom-tom drum beat. This drum beat incorporates two single stroke fours. They start on counts 1 and 3, and end on counts 2 and 4 with a snare shot, respectively.

Drum Fills

Exercise #3 is an 8th note triplet drum fill. Floor toms lack the rebound of a snare drum. Thus, expect some issues when attempting to get the three strokes on the floor tom to sound exactly the same, as you get to higher speeds. Developing your forearm muscles is a great way of getting consistent sounding strokes out of the floor tom. Practicing this exercise slowly at first, and for long periods of time, will help you develop you forearms. Remember to stay relaxed, to avoid repeated stress related injuries.

Exercise #4 is a variation of the previous 8th note triplet drum fill. This pattern has the same type of challenge we discussed on exercise #3. Besides being a very cool sounding pattern, you can also use this drum fill to further work on your forearm development. Developing your forearms takes time, so be patient.

Once you’re able to play the single stroke four and the exercises herein accurately, you can move on to further expand your knowledge of the 40 drum rudiments. If you want to keep studying single stroke based drum rudiments, we encourage you to move on to learn how to play the single stroke seven or the hybrid drum rudiment herta.

If you’d rather learn how to play drum rudiments from a different family, check the free drum lessons on the double stroke roll and the multiple bounce roll.




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