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Basic Drum Roll Notation
In sheet music, a drum roll is indicated by a tremolo—a note with one to three slashes through its stem. A tremolo with one slash prompts the drummer to play a diddle—two strokes over the duration of the note—with either the right or the left hand. A tremolo with two slashes prompts the drummer to play two diddles over the duration of the note—two with one hand and two with the other. A tremolo with three slashes prompts the drummer to play four diddles, alternating hands.
7 Types of Drum Rolls and How to Play Them
There are many types of drum rolls. Below are some of the most common types of drum rolls.
- Single-stroke roll: Also known as a closed roll, snare drum roll, or concert roll. Repeatedly alternate the right hand (R) and left hand (L) in time with the beat. RLRL. Repeat.
- Double-stroke roll: Also known as an open roll. Play two single strokes on each hand. RRLL. Repeat
- Triple-stroke roll: Also known as a French roll. Play three single strokes on each hand. RRRLLL. Repeat.
- Buzz roll: Also known as a press roll or multiple bounce roll. Buzz rolls require a different grip and fulcrum point, which is where you place your hands and fingers on your drum sticks. Generally, a buzz roll is executed with a tighter grip between the index finger and thumb. Buzz rolls are single-strokes played in rapid succession. RRRRRRRRLLLLLLLL. Repeat.
- Paradiddle: Play two single strokes followed by a double stroke. RLRR or LRLL. Repeat.
- Double paradiddle: Play four single strokes followed by a double stroke. RLRLRR or LRLRLL. Repeat.
- Flam: Two single strokes on alternating hands that are played almost simultaneously. The first stroke should be quieter (a grace note), and the second should be louder and on the beat.
5 Tips for Mastering Drum Rolls
A rudiment like a drum roll is meant to be combined with other drum rudiments to create more complex patterns. Practicing rudiments on a practice pad will help you learn to play drum rolls more efficiently and intelligently. Beginners use rudiments to improve their speed and control, and pros use them to stay sharp.
- Practice. Practice is the only way to master any instrument. If your time is limited, aim for at least one hour of practice every morning or evening.
- Learn how to hold drumsticks. They may feel foreign in your hands at first, but if you learn how to hold them properly, you'll eventually get used to them.
- Train both your dominant and non-dominant hand. Your drum playing may be uneven at first. Practice each hand individually until you reach a place where your drumbeats sound uniform.
- Increase your speed as you gain confidence. Practice drum rolls at a variety of speeds, starting slow and eventually increasing the tempo as you master the technique.
- Build up to more complex rudiments and rhythms. Once you've mastered a basic drum roll, diversify your exercises with more complicated rhythms.
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