Linear Drumming Approach


In linear drumming, there are multiple ways to approach learning and”mastering” this type of playing. Some of these approaches include:

  • Chain the paradiddle rudiments together with single stroke roll and double stroke roll. Then substitute the feet in or add in kick drum hits in-between the rudiments.
  • Combine singles and doubles with the hands and the feet
  • Memorize and combine multiple licks then displaced the start of a lick within a beat.
  • Gary Chaffee’s Patterns series books
  • Mike’s Johnston’s “Linear Drumming” book

No matter the approach, what is important is that it makes sense to you AND it works for your situation. I thought the Gary Chaffee book “Sticking Patterns” would work for me but it did not work for my situation. Then one evening while at work I discovered an approach while dissecting a bunch of linear patterns and licks.

As I analyzed the patterns I broke the patterns into groups of 3s and 4s. Doing that I noticed that all of the patterns could be broken down into 24 separate 3 note combinations linked together. Yes, 24 is a lot of combinations to remember and practice but conceptually it is only eight patterns with three different starting notes. I will explain later.

A few things to mention before moving on.

  1. I have not actually practiced this approach yet. I plan on starting this approach this month (May 2019) and document my practice along the way.
  2. More important, this approach is not new. As a matter of fact Dave Weckl introduce this approach, if not something very similar, in one of his videos.


Linear drumming is a drum kit playing style in which no drum, cymbal, or other drum component hits simultaneously. Unlike other forms of time keeping and fills, there is no layering of parts.

The Approach:

1R – L – R4L – R – L
2R – R – L5L – L – R
3L – R – R6R – L – L
7R – K – R10L – K – L
8K – R – R11K – L – L
9R – R – K12L – L – K
13K – R – K16K – L – K
14K – K – R17K – K – L
15R – K – K18L – K – K
19R – K – L22L – K – R
20K – R – L23K – L – R
21R – L – K24L – R – K

Optional combinations:

  • K – K – K
  • R – R – R
  • L – L – L

Listed above are all 24 combinations plus an additional three combinations to increase the possibilities of linear drumming. These 24 combinations can be simplified to 8 combinations given that 3 patterns are the same but starting on a different part of the pattern. The combinations conceptually can even be simplified down to four combinations if a drummer chose to and look at a combination from only a Hand/Foot perspective. Then one would substitute in an ‘R’ or ‘L’ where there is a Hand marking.

  • H – K – H would turn into R – K – L or L – K – R or L – K – L or R – K – R

Personal Note:

I look forward to practicing this approach since linear drumming is something that I’ve always wanted to learn and improve on. Many times I might hear a particular fill in my head that requires a combination of hands and feet but I have never stop to practice it in a way that I am not just memorizing 16/32 note licks.