Technique Tuesday: This Is How We Roll

We need to talk about rolls.

There are so many different types of rolls, but for now I’ll cover a buzz roll and an open roll.

Notation for a buzz roll:
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Buzz rolls are crushed diddles (to be explained momentarily). When you hear the “Drum roll, please!” before a big announcement, they’re going to be playing a buzz roll: multiple bounces per stroke, pushed into the drum head. Buzz rolls can be played at various pulses. Usually at a triplet or 16th-note pulse. That means your hands would be playing triplets or 16th notes, but you’d be buzzing the strokes.

Open rolls (also called double-stroke rolls) are two hits per stroke (called “diddles”), alternating between right and left hands. Sounds easy enough, but you have to be sure not to crush the strokes and to let the diddles breath. A clean, open roll should sound like you’re playing even 16th notes.

Notation for an open roll:
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Notation for a diddle:
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Like I said before, there are tons of other rolls: single-stroke rolls, single and double paradiddles, five- and seven-stroke rolls, variations on six-stroke rolls, etc. I’ll cover a few in future blogs, but if you want to learn more now, go here: Vic Firth’s website has an awesome rudiment section. Enjoy!

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