Rudiment Round-Up Episode 2: Rolls

November 9, 2009 by  

Previous: Rudiment Round-Up – Episode 1: Why you need ‘em! introduction

Rudiment Round-Up Episode 2: RollsWell folks, its time for you to sit up straight, sticks in hand, mouths shut, eyes front and center! Today let’s get you familiar with the wonderfully tasty little rudiment that is the roll. Rolls are used to give the drums a sense of sustain. They’re how we drummers hold the snare drum note to increase tension in the music and how we call attention to an important happening.

The Star Spangled Banner starts with a snare drum roll! Rolls come in many shapes and sizes, but are all made using the same sticking pattern…RRLL, RRLL, RRLL, RRLL. There are long rolls, buzz rolls, numbered-stroke rolls, closed rolls, dinner rolls, sushi rolls, all kinds of rolls…I digress. The common building block to them all is the sticking: RRLL.

To get started, tap your practice pad once with each hand and allow the stick to rebound naturally. R! L! R! L! It should be a relaxed and controlled stroke and should end in about the same position as it started. Now tap you pad allowing the stick to bounce loosely like a basketball. Rrrrrrr…. Lllllll…. Get a feel for the stick’s natural tendency to bounce as well as how easily it bounces in your hand. IMPORTANT! Never grip the stick too tight or too loose and always keep all of your fingers on the stick, “fly-away” finger limit your control! Just keep them along for the ride.

Once you have the feel of the stick’s bounce and balance, tap your pad with a controlled double strokes RR! LL! RR! LL! Note, there is a difference between “struck” double strokes and bounced double strokes and for good reason. There is a speed threshold for “struck” double strokes and once you get to that point your arms will tighten up and you’ll lose control of the roll. You’ll find that by allowing the second stroke to “bounce” it will enable you to stay relaxed and continue increasing your roll speed. RrLl, RrLl, RrLl, RrLl. As you get better at controlling your bounced strokes, you’ll be able to “blur” the line between the two and perform a seamless “buzz roll” or “pressed roll”.

The next time you stand during our National Anthem, pay close attention to the rolls that are played almost all the way through it. For more info on Rolls visit

Now, go learn something!

Drum Rudiments – Double Stroke Roll Video Demonstration

Rudiment Round-Up – Episode 1: Why you need ‘em! An introduction

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