Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

A New Look At The Traditional Rolls

by Micky Earnshaw

The standard rudimental open rolls, based upon the double-stroke roll, are standard knowledge to most drummers. If we begin the traditional double-stroke roll on its second note, we obtain an open roll with a distinctly different flavor (see below). If we then base the rudimental open rolls upon this new foundation, we obtain a series of new rolls with a variety of fresh possibilities.
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The reader is encouraged to write out and practice the new 11, 15, and 17-stroke rolls. The sharp attack and crisp ending – difficult or impossible to achieve with the traditional stickings – make these new rolls especially effective. A proper execution requires strong and even double strokes – to give the rolls a clean single-stroked sound.

Single-stroked accents can be played out of the new open roll, as illustrated below. After each accent, the roll is “turned around” to lead with the opposite hand.

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Applications of these rolls to the drum set are innumerable. One idea is to play the first or the last note with the bass drum. Some examples:jazz drummers workshop 3






Try playing the 5-stroke rolls in this rhythm with the variations which follow.jazz drummers workshop 4 







The foregoing discussion and examples indicate just a few of the many possibilities of these new rolls. Your own creative imagination combined with technical mastery of these rolls will be the best source of additional variations, and of effective applications to the drum set in your own style.