Single Stroke Four - Drum Rudiment

The single stroke four is one of the 40 International Drum Rudiments since 1984. The Percussive Arts Society (P.A.S.) was responsible for its inclusion, after settling on the expansion of the 26 American Drum Rudiments with orchestral, drum corps, European, and contemporary drum rudiments.

The single stroke four features four consecutive alternating single strokes that can be played as 8th note triplets or as 16th note triplets. The exclusive use of single strokes to play the single stroke four is what makes this a pattern from the single stroke family of drum rudiments. You can actually think of the single stroke four as a variation on the single stroke roll. Instead of having a consecutive stream (roll) of alternating single strokes, you have four. Thus, we encourage you to take a look at the single stroke roll before going any further with this free drum lesson. Practice the single stroke four leading with both hands since it does not naturally alternate within itself. Strive for playing consistent sounding and evenly spaced strokes.

Once you're able to play the single stroke four comfortably on a single surface, you can move on to learn how to apply the single stroke four to the drum set.

Exercise #1 is an 8th note triplet drum beat. This drum beat is pretty straight forward. It features a single stroke four between the hi-hat on count 3 and the snare drum on count 4. Lead the single stroke four with whatever hand feels more comfortable to you. What matters here is that you play the single stroke four with consistent sounding and evenly spaced strokes.

Exercise #2 is an 8th note triplet tom-tom drum beat. This exercise features two single stroke fours. A good way to approach this pattern is to take the previous exercise and move the hi-hat strokes on count 3 to the hi-tom and floor tom as notated on the sheet music below. Once you have that down, add that same single stroke four pattern to count 1 and lose the hi-hat stroke on count 2.

Exercise #3 is an 8th note triplet drum fill that features two single stroke fours. We'd like to direct your attention to count 3. You may find yourself struggling to get even sounding strokes out of the floor tom due to its soggy surface. A good way to go around this problem is to develop your forearm muscles. This will enable you to get consistent sounding strokes from surfaces with almost no bounce, no matter the speed at what you play on them. Practicing this exercise slowly at first and for long periods of time will help you develop your forearms.

Exercise #4 is another 8th note triplet drum fill. This pattern is a variation on the previous one. You'll find that the problems discussed on exercise #3 are featured on this one as well. So use the tips we gave you there to work around them.

Once you're able to play the single stroke four and the exercises herein accurately, you can move on to further expand your knowledge on the 40 drum rudiments. If you want to keep studying single stroke based drum rudiments, we encourage you to learn how to play the single stroke seven. If you'd rather learn a drum rudiment from a different rudimental family, then the double stroke roll is the best next thing for you.