Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

The Collapsing Concept

Crushing Roll Rudiments to Create Contemporary Swing and Solo Ideas

by Steve Fidyk

The late, great author and educator Jim Chapin gave me this exercise in a lesson a number of years ago. It deals with the seven-stroke roll and Jim’s concept of collapsing the rudiment to create a six-note grouping. In our meetings, Chapin would encourage me to be creative with each rudimental idea and to come up with beat patterns and solo ideas that were my own.

Many of the patterns included in this article, which are based on the collapsing concept, can be heard in the styles of great drummers like Elvin Jones, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Ralph Peterson, Cindy Blackman, Bill Stewart, and Keith Carlock. Let’s have a look at how Jim broke down the seven-stroke roll and then apply each idea to the drumset.

The first roll rudiment Jim shared with me was a seven-stroke roll that starts with a tap and has all of the notes equidistant.


Now let’s try Jim’s collapsing concept by turning the third note of the seven-stroke roll in Example 1 into a grace note that hits right before the fourth note. When you do that, the roll becomes a paradiddle-diddle with a flam on the first right-hand diddle.


Chapin then had me flatten the flam, so that it became a perfect unison rather than a grace note, and separate the hands by moving the right to the ride cymbal.


The next idea combines Jim’s seven-stroke roll variation (Example 1) and the paradiddle-diddle flam figure (Example 2) within a four-measure phrase.


Once you have control of the sticking pattern and can feel the four-measure phrase correctly, separate your hands onto the ride cymbal and snare drum.


The next idea illustrates a 4:6 polyrhythm and how to use that to modulate to a new tempo. To nail the modulation, think of the quarter-note rhythms played with the hi-hat in the first three measures as becoming quarter-note triplets in the new tempo. (The pulse of the hi-hat rhythm should remain consistent during the transition.)


You can also experiment with triplet and 16th-note subdivisions. Switching from 8th notes to triplets to 16ths provides the illusion that each phrase is speeding up. Practice these exercises with a metronome to help you maintain a consistent quarter-note pulse throughout.



Now let’s switch over to collapsing a six-stroke roll and voicing it around the kit.


You can also collapse the nine-stroke roll in a few different ways. Have fun and be sure to come up with some of your own applications of Chapin’s collapsing concept.

Nine-stroke roll (#10):

Nine-stroke roll with one collapsed position:(#11):


Nine-stroke roll with two collapsed positions:


Steve Fidyk has performed with Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dick Oatts, Doc Severinsen, Wayne Bergeron, Phil Wilson, and Maureen McGovern, and he’s a member of the jazz studies faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia. For more info, including how to sign up for lessons via Skype, visit stevefidyk.com.