This article is an excerpt from the April 2015 issue, which can be purchased here.
Diamonds in the Ruff
Part 2: The Sexy Four-Stroke
by Matt Starr
Welcome to part two of our miniseries on the ruff. I consider the three-stroke ruff to be the workingman’s rudiment. The four-stroke is much sexier, but it’s not easy to master. And it takes a certain amount of precision, which is also what makes it so cool.
The intention of this article is to demonstrate a way to practice and perfect the four-stroke ruff while at the same time helping you discover a world of fill possibilities. As we did with the three-stroke version in part one, we will pair the four-stroke ruff with a master rhythm. For this lesson, the master rhythm is the 16th-note triplet, or sextuplet. The ruffs are to be played as the first four notes of the sextuplet. The sticking should be consistent with that of an alternating single-stroke roll. So imagine that someone is playing sextuplets under each exercise, and whatever hand he or she would be using for any given note is the hand you should be using as well. This is great preparation for real-world execution of this ruff within beats and fills.
Be sure to use full, open strokes. I recommend practicing with a metronome clicking 8th notes at 60 bpm. This may seem ridiculously slow if you’re a more advanced player, but really dig in and feel the groove.
For more insight into the four-stroke ruff, including transcriptions of the exercises demonstrated in this video, check out the complete article in the April 2015 issue of Modern Drummer, available here.