It really is the simplest act, but there is so much subtlety to it!
To me there are really only 2 basic rudiments in drumming: the single stroke and the double stroke. The single stroke is basically one stroke per hand. You can play alternating single strokes as 8ths, sixteenths, triplets, sixtuplets, or 32nd notes. It is one hit per hand, hand to hand. The double stroke is just that: two hits on the drum per hand. If you are playing a set of 16th notes in 4/4 time, every beat would have the combination of right, right, left, left. Simple and straight forward.
All the other rudiments in the lists that are out there (the 26 basic rudiments) are unique combinations of single strokes and double strokes. Of course some of the rudiments on the basic 26 require grace notes which we will discuss later.
Single Strokes and Hand Motion
There are so many ways your hands can move when hitting the drum once. You can isolate the wrist motion and hit the drum by grabbing the stick, bending your wrist up while grabbing the stick and then stroking down. You can also do a single stroke by simply using your fingers to hit the drum. You can also include hitting the drum using only your arm from the shoulder like the Tyco drummers. I believe correct technique comes from the balanced motions of the fingers, wrists, and arm when striking the drum. The volume and type of sound you require at the time will also determine how you hit the drum.
We are not linear machines like robots with simple motions. I mean, look at your hand. It has so many curves and is capable of so many subtle and complex motions and gestures. Our human bodies are natural machines designed with a variety of non-linear organic subtleties in how they move. That is why, although seemingly simple, a single stroke on the drum can be comprised of a combination of all these different anatomical factors.
As the single strokes get faster, the use of stronger finger motion will be required for efficiency. We then learn how to bounce the stick on the head, which is another way to play single strokes.
Below there will soon be an example of single strokes with different hand, wrist finger motions:
Next post we will discuss the double stroke motion and the 32nd note roll.