ROCK ’N’ JAZZ CLINIC
Getting Creative With Rolls
by James Murphy
Finding creative ways to apply rudiments to the drumset can be a great way to discover new vocabulary. In this lesson, we’ll discuss what I call “squashed stickings.” A squashed sticking applies a specific roll to a steady subdivision but inverts it so that the accent starts the phrase. For example, if you invert a five-stroke roll sticking (RRLLR) to RLLRR, and repeat it over a measure of 16th notes, you get an odd five-note grouping over an even subdivision. The accents of the new sticking are five 16th notes apart, which creates an over-the-barline figure that resolves every five measures. We’ll explore this idea in the examples below, and we’ll challenge you further by applying the concept to two different note rates.
First, we’ll squash the five-stroke roll. Let’s invert the sticking and apply it to 16th notes. For all of the exercises in this lesson, keep quarter-note time with your hi-hat foot.
Next, play the crash and bass drum simultaneously on each accent.
Now we’ll apply the same idea to 16th-note triplets.
Once again, move the accents to the crash cymbal and bass drum.
Let’s take a seven-stroke-roll sticking, invert it, and play it as 16th notes.
Next, move the accents to the crash cymbal and bass drum.
Now apply the seven-stroke roll to 16th-note triplets. Happy practicing!
James Murphy is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, an international clinician, and a drumset player for the Blue Man Group in Boston. He also runs the website PeaceAndDrums.com, which offers pre-recorded video lessons for all playing levels on topics such as technique, fills, and grooves.