Can you play a roll (and how important are they)?

DavedrumsTX

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Instead of sidetracking a similar thread (https://www.drumforum.org/threads/rock-drummers-who-actually-used-rolls.175174/page-5), let me open another one about rolls and us.

But first, since there seems to be some definitional disagreement, let me define what I mean a roll. I mean the kind of smooth, sustained, double-stroke buzz-sounding thing, usually played on the snare, that starts the "Star-Spangled Banner." It can also show up in orchestral music, sometimes for a measure or or more, and sometimes even with a crescendo required. I'm not talking about single-strokes or short bouncing riffs.

Ringo and I will start. (OK, let's leave Ringo out of it, even though there is reason to believe that he couldn't play a decent roll.) I can't play one. I can play 5- and 7-strokes all day, but I'm not the drummer you want to cue to open the "Star-Spangled Banner."

The strange thing is that when I was a kid, sure, I could play a nice, smooth, sustained roll. I was the kid in the school band who did play the roll to begin the "Star-Spangled Banner." OK, school band isn't the highest standard, but I was also all-state and won various regional solo competitions. I'm pretty sure that I really could roll.

But about the time I graduated from high school, I switched to matched grip and never got my left hand up to doing its part in rolls. I also steadily lost the ability to switch back to traditional grip and play a decent roll that way. (Switching grips was a bad decision, but that's another story.)

I then proceeded to gig for another 15 years without needing to roll. OK, I was just a weekend warrior, more semi-pro than pro. There were also a few occasions when my inability to roll was an embarrassment. Typically these were when I was playing wedding receptions and someone called for a drum roll before the bride threw the bouquet. My bouquet-toss rolls sucked. However, except for these infrequent embarrassments, playing a roll was never required. The music I was playing--rock, pop, country, a little swing--didn't call for rolls.

In fact, the other day I listened to a rock-style song in which the drummer (who I think is great) threw in a roll. I found myself thinking that if I were in charge of the recording, I'd ask him to take it out. IMO, the drummer's jazz playing, where rolls often fit, was bleeding into his rock playing, where rolls rarely fit. I just didn't think that the roll was appropriate for that song.

Though I myself am now practicing my double-stroke roll (using traditional grip) because, for goodness sake, being able to execute a smooth, sustained roll is kind of square one for a drummer.
Like words in language, rolls are simply part of your drumming vocabulary. When used in the right place at the right time, they are a beautiful thing. Some music(symphonic & marching) requires more rolls. Other music may not(country, rock). To ask if they are necessary isn’t the right question. The question should be, “when should you use them?“. The answer is likely, “when it serves the music”.
 

JDA

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Closed Roll / Open Roll
Closed sometimes called Press
 

Bob Salvati

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Instead of sidetracking a similar thread (https://www.drumforum.org/threads/rock-drummers-who-actually-used-rolls.175174/page-5), let me open another one about rolls and us.

But first, since there seems to be some definitional disagreement, let me define what I mean a roll. I mean the kind of smooth, sustained, double-stroke buzz-sounding thing, usually played on the snare, that starts the "Star-Spangled Banner." It can also show up in orchestral music, sometimes for a measure or or more, and sometimes even with a crescendo required. I'm not talking about single-strokes or short bouncing riffs.

Ringo and I will start. (OK, let's leave Ringo out of it, even though there is reason to believe that he couldn't play a decent roll.) I can't play one. I can play 5- and 7-strokes all day, but I'm not the drummer you want to cue to open the "Star-Spangled Banner."

The strange thing is that when I was a kid, sure, I could play a nice, smooth, sustained roll. I was the kid in the school band who did play the roll to begin the "Star-Spangled Banner." OK, school band isn't the highest standard, but I was also all-state and won various regional solo competitions. I'm pretty sure that I really could roll.

But about the time I graduated from high school, I switched to matched grip and never got my left hand up to doing its part in rolls. I also steadily lost the ability to switch back to traditional grip and play a decent roll that way. (Switching grips was a bad decision, but that's another story.)

I then proceeded to gig for another 15 years without needing to roll. OK, I was just a weekend warrior, more semi-pro than pro. There were also a few occasions when my inability to roll was an embarrassment. Typically these were when I was playing wedding receptions and someone called for a drum roll before the bride threw the bouquet. My bouquet-toss rolls sucked. However, except for these infrequent embarrassments, playing a roll was never required. The music I was playing--rock, pop, country, a little swing--didn't call for rolls.

In fact, the other day I listened to a rock-style song in which the drummer (who I think is great) threw in a roll. I found myself thinking that if I were in charge of the recording, I'd ask him to take it out. IMO, the drummer's jazz playing, where rolls often fit, was bleeding into his rock playing, where rolls rarely fit. I just didn't think that the roll was appropriate for that song.

Though I myself am now practicing my double-stroke roll (using traditional grip) because, for goodness sake, being able to execute a smooth, sustained roll is kind of square one for a drummer.
YES. I believe double stroke rolls and closed rolls are extremely important. I continually play older Genesis progressive rock 1970 - 1976 ish. Phil Collins played everything, open doubles, crush rolls etc. He was loose like a modern jazz drummer. I use them a lot. I get bored with drummers who only use single strokes. It’s like anyone off the the street can do that, non - drummers. Learning doubles and crushes takes a lot of practice...it’s what real drummers do. I use them a lot. Say 1/2 of my fills in a song are these.
 

Bob Salvati

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open roll = doubles
closed roll = buzz roll, press roll, crush roll, etc. , etc.

The difference is, when playing doubles, just press the sticks slightly into the drumhead and you will acheive a buzz roll. It takes some practice, but, it's not difficult.

These are basic rudiments that all drummers should be able to play, and play well.
I started out using traditional grip at drum lessons and just for the heck of it,seeing rock drummers like Paice and Bomham using matched, I tried it. Immediately it was easier for me to play in general. My doubles and crush rolls were way more even. And more speed and power. Is there anyone out there with a similar experience?
 

bonsritmos

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art blakey was one of my favorite drummer in the beginning , so , naturaly , i went for that press roll he does
elvin had a great one, eric gravatt had a wicked one with mccoy , buddy and louis belison had envious roll technique, most all the great jazz drummers have good rolls

playing with some serious funk players, i had to pull back the rolls and lay into the back beat, but, buzz strokes and ruffs work great for james brown funk and new orleans funk

having started to understand the old new orleans drummers and their roll aproach, after messing with some of their concepts, the one handed roll comes much easiar
 

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Some types of music these days has zero requirements for rolls. As an artist, you want to have the technique to achieve the musical or creative idea that you envision. So the way I see it, rolls are important only if you need to play them, or at least want to have the option of playing it in your arsenal as a drummer.
 

Bob Salvati

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Some types of music these days has zero requirements for rolls. As an artist, you want to have the technique to achieve the musical or creative idea that you envision. So the way I see it, rolls are important only if you need to play them, or at least want to have the option of playing it in your arsenal as a drummer.
You know, why would there be a NEED for a double stroke, single stroke, crush, flam, Swiss army, etc? I play what ever I want. For instance, some say doubles in rock are’nt called for. That tell’s me they don’t know how to play one. Early rock was very simple. Like guitarist’s would play only 3 chord’s,etc. or that’s all they know. Like a drummer who never took lesson’s. Some guy just picked up the stick’s, and 3 month’s later join’s a band. I say if you can’t play a double stroke roll and other rudiment’s in my book you ain’t no drummer and are VERY boring to listen to.
 

swarfrat

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I like them in rock. It's one of those touches that says "this (probably) isn't a drum machine".
 

Bob Salvati

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I like them in rock. It's one of those touches that says "this (probably) isn't a drum machine".
Yep. Probably 1/3 of my fills in a song are double stroke rolls.Some with accent’s. My early heroes were Paice and Bonham.
 

Pounder

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I played as smoothly of a press roll as anyone else in college, played snare drum in orchestra, the concert band director heard my roll and asked me to play snare drum in concert band in the spring. We played many marches, those were open long rolls, I was the only snare drummer and the band director enjoyed that.. smoother with traditional than with matched grip but still I had lessons playing with both grips. I think a drummer should know how to play them but if you play punk rock you might be able to get by without it, I don't know I'm not judging. A person gets to the point where they decide to work on it if it is important enough. What another drummer thinks is irrelevant. What you think and your bandmates think is more important. All of your skills as a drummer are important, but how important they are has everything to do with what you are playing.

Most of my skills in playing rolls is from the lessons and band in Jr High and High school. And contest. I appreciate my teachers and all the drummers I have heard and am hearing now on record who both inspire and teach me from their examples.

I don't agree that you're worthless if you can't play a roll like Paice-y or Bonham... I love those two, was happy to see both of them live and play along with their records, but I'm not setting the bar by them. Blaze your own trail.
 
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Bob Salvati

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I played as smoothly of a press roll as anyone else in college, played snare drum in orchestra, the concert band director heard my roll and asked me to play snare drum in concert band in the spring. We played many marches, those were open long rolls, I was the only snare drummer and the band director enjoyed that.. smoother with traditional than with matched grip but still I had lessons playing with both grips. I think a drummer should know how to play them but if you play punk rock you might be able to get by without it, I don't know I'm not judging. A person gets to the point where they decide to work on it if it is important enough. What another drummer thinks is irrelevant. What you think and your bandmates think is more important. All of your skills as a drummer are important, but how important they are has everything to do with what you are playing.

Most of my skills in playing rolls is from the lessons and band in Jr High and High school. And contest. I appreciate my teachers and all the drummers I have heard and am hearing now on record who both inspire and teach me from their examples.

I don't agree that you're worthless if you can't play a roll like Paice-y or Bonham... I love those two, was happy to see both of them live and play along with their records, but I'm not setting the bar by them. Blaze your own trail.
Right. To each his own. When I listen to a drummer, I want to be entertained. It’s like Buddy Rich said in a video, (back then) all rock drummers would do is play singles... snare, mounted tom and floor tom. He was right. Not much inventiveness there. I patterned my playing back then to Paice and Bonham. Some difficult stuff there. I like to play complicated stuff along with easier stuff all blended together. If I play to a song that has easy stuff I’ll add my own fill’s to make it more interesting to me. When I play, I play to entertain other drummers because no one else understands what I’m doing.
 

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When I listen to a drummer, I want to hear drums played well to great songs. Although I studied formally and can play open and closed rolls, I haven't used them in recordings over the last 20+ years. Don't care either way. If I need to use that particular technique, I'll use it. If not, I won't.
 
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Bob Salvati

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Some types of music these days has zero requirements for rolls. As an artist, you want to have the technique to achieve the musical or creative idea that you envision. So the way I see it, rolls are important only if you need to play them, or at least want to have the option of playing it in your arsenal as a drummer.
Clarify “no requirement” for double stroke rolls. What determines that?
 

Tornado

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Clarify “no requirement” for double stroke rolls. What determines that?
Flip that question around. What could possibly be the criteria for the requirement of double stroke rolls in modern popular (that is, not classical) music? That seems crazy to think something like that would exist.
 

JDA

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You only know what Charlie's shown you. In another setting- at home in his living room- he may play you down from top of page to bottom- and old march written in 1832.
We don't know- and can't only judge by what's been recorded- what a drummer is 100% like in real person time.
i dunno just a thought..
 

Bob Salvati

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Flip that question around. What could possibly be the criteria for the requirement of double stroke rolls in modern popular (that is, not classical) music? That seems crazy to think something like that would exist.
Yeah, I just play what I want. Para’s. doubles, crush,flams,Swiss army, etc.
 


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