Necessary Ruffness

Make Your Grooves Percolate With Subtle Doubles

by Rich Redmond

The ruff is an essential rudiment that’s directly related to the double-stroke roll, or buzz roll. The ruff can be played open, as we have it here, with both notes clearly articulated, or closed, which utilizes a buzz stroke before the primary note. Both techniques allow you to color the music by adding more subdivision, aka percolation, to the groove or fill.

Start by playing a simple beat and sprinkling in a few ruffs in strategic parts of the bar. By adding bass drum variations and open hi-hat notes, you can create a unique dialogue among the limbs.

The ruff can also be executed as part of a sextuplet (16th-note triplet) subdivision. That gives you yet another option for “ruffing up” any groove. I’m a huge fan of having a massive cracking backbeat with simmering ruffs placed in delightful spots between the accents. It makes for a groove that has swagger, earthiness, and forward motion. Have fun!

Rich Redmond drums for country star Jason Aldean, is an award-winning clinician, and is an active session drummer in Nashville and Los Angeles. His recent book/DVD, FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids (coauthored with Michael Aubrecht), is available through Modern Drummer Publications.