Rock ‘N’ Jazz Clinic

The Drumset Drag

Orchestration Options for Powerful and Melodic Textures

by Powell Randolph

In this lesson we’re focusing on orchestrating the drag rudiment, which is traditionally played on the snare, by moving the two grace notes to the bass drum and tom. This gives it a much more powerful sound and creates melodic movement.

Here’s the drag played on the snare and then orchestrated two ways on the kit.


Here are examples of fills using the drag in different places. When you get comfortable with them as written, play them in cut time (twice as fast) to get more of a closed-drag sound.


Here are some variations played as 16th and 32nd notes that use different groupings to displace the pulse. Try playing them as fills at the end of four- or eight-bar phrases.


Now let’s try phrasing the drag in 8th-note triplets and sextuplets. In these examples the drag is placed in different parts of the triplet.


These examples incorporate right- and left-hand drags in each measure.


These examples incorporate the drag into four-note groupings. Try playing all of the ideas as fills at the end of a four- or eight-bar phrase. Have fun!


Powell Randolph is a teacher at Alpha Music in Virginia Beach. He tours with Windborne Music Productions, which puts on rock shows with major orchestras around the world. He can be reached through