3 Tips for Playing an Even Drum Roll

Published: 30th May 2012
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Today, our topic will be how to execute an even roll. We'll be focusing on applying the 3 aspects of evenness to both the single stroke roll and the double stroke roll. And this can absolutely be applied to your all around playing as well. So here goes...

1) Timing - This is the most obvious one of the three, so we'll start here. MAKE SURE YOU DON'T SOUND LIKE A HORSE GALLOPING!!! I mean there's nothing wrong with that sound if that's what you want, but that's not what we're looking for with an EVEN roll. We can make it swing later, but for now you have to make sure that all the notes are placed the same distance apart.

Got it? Good.

2) Volume - This one can be quite a challenge to fix. To explain it, we'll look at physics, since science is always right about everything. (jk, but Newton's physical laws tell us a LOT about how drumsticks will react to drum heads and the like, so here goes...)

Newton's second law states that F = ma, where F is force, m is mass, and a is acceleration. The volume produced by a stroke is determined by the force applied to the stick. Therefore only 2 things can be done to create a louder drum sound - you can buy a bigger drumstick, or move the stick towards the head quicker. THAT'S IT!

Alright, so I got a little sidetracked there, but anyways, you need to make sure that the volume of each stroke is equal. Righties, I bet you can guess which hand will tend to be louder, RIGHT? So, here's a couple of exercises for ya.

Example A is how most drummers begin. It just happens to be the same accent pattern for both singles and doubles. With singles, we tend to accent the stronger hand, and with doubles, we tend to accent the first note on each hand. We're going to call B an exercise instead of an example because that what it is!

In exercise B, notice that the accent is switched to the off beats. This reverses the tendency and gives one control over the sticks. When playing singles, you'll make the left hand louder than the right hand, and when playing doubles, you'll make the second note louder than the first. Practice this way to OVERCOMPENSATE for the previous unevenness, and what happens naturally is example C - rolls that are perfectly even in terms of volume!

3) Tone - This third one is a little more abstract and maybe a bit harder to notice/hear at first, but it definitely is a factor in how even your rolls sound. To demonstrate, play a roll with one hand in the center of the drum, and one on the outside edge. Even if your timing and volume are even, the roll won't sound even. (it can be a cool effect though.) This is why some teachers put so much stress on keeping the tips of your drumsticks close together. It makes the tones even.

If you're playing with your tips together and the roll still doesn't sound even, you may be playing with a pair of unmatched drumsticks. (probably from the 10 pairs for $10 deal at Guitar Center) Do yourself a favor and buy some REAL sticks for $7-9 a pair.

So there you have it the 3 aspects of playing an even drum roll. Practice it, and share it with your friends too!

To learn more, download my FREE 29-page ebook here.

Aaron is the owner of http://www.TheCompleteDrummer.com where he provides drumming lessons and tips.

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