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Mastering Rudiments - Rolls and Drags
by Bob Carroll

There are four different families of rudiments: Rolls, Drags, Paradiddles, and Flams. I like to combine rolls and drags into one since they use the same concept. You should spend time developing as many basic rudiments in these families as possible. Use a metronome, play on a practice pad, make sure your note are even, and try to play them on the drumset as well.

The first family I will deal with is the Roll/Drag family. Rolls are critical to your success as a musician. There are two basic types of rolls: Closed and Open. A closed roll sounds like a constant buzz, it's most likely what you think of when you think of some one saying "drum roll please!" An open roll sounds like really fast notes, every note is even sounding and you are doubling each stroke(two hits for one stroke). If you have developed your rolls you should start with a closed roll. To accomplish this you must squeeze the fulcrum(pointer and thumb) as you press into the drum head. This will create multiple bounces. First just see how many controlled bounces you can get, then try alternating the sticks(Right Left Right Left etc). Try going faster and faster until you have a fairly even sounding but constant buzz. You must practice using different pressure while pressing the stick into the drumhead.

Now we must open this closed roll to become an open roll. Using the same technique try adjusting the pressure downward to be less with a focus upwards. You should hear less bounces and more space between the bounces. Now try to only bounce it twice using this method. As you get better you should try and do the same thing with your fingers, you will have more control that way. You are aiming for two notes for one whole stroke that sound as close to the same volume wise as possible. Now you're starting to play an open roll.

Next we must realize that we do not have to roll on every note. The notes we don't roll on get accented automatically creating interesting and seemingly difficult patterns. Play around with this idea both on a practice pad and on the drumset. It's important to apply all the rudiments to the drum set because that is what we do. We do not play on practice pad in front of an audience.

Drags are basically rolls except you only roll one note after or before an accent. Look up different resources and get a list of the standard rudiments to practice to. Good Luck.

Bob Carroll

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