Five Long Minutes of Accented Rolls

Continuing with the "Five Long Minutes" video series on the Youtube Channel, this week we'll be focusing on accented rolls. Accented rolls are found in each of the five pipe band styles and can range from simple "tap buzz buzz" hand to hand triplet rolls as (found in the North American massed band 4/4) to lengthy and complex multi-bar movements involving several different roll types. Accented rolls look different depending on the style in which they're being played. Here are some examples:



Accented rolls are used heavily in the strathspey style and are often found as part of longer, multi-bar phrases, even in drum scores written for the lower grades. The passage below is composed exclusively of six stroke rolls, both standalone and back-to-back (where the last note of one roll is the first of the next).




As a general rule, accented rolls in marches are a little simpler than those found in the strathspey style. The back-to-back six stroke rolls between the two groups of 32nd notes in the second bar are the most common variation of the accented roll and this particular movement using back-to-back sixes is found in virtually every march score from the lower grades on up.



Long passages of accented rolls are not as common in the jig style but they do still occur as they provide a nice rhythmic counterpoint to the incessant TRIP-A-LET, TRIP-A-LET rhythm inherent in the style. 



The example below is a breakdown of the basic accented roll I learned as a young drummer composed of back-to-back six stroke rolls ("Tap Buzz Buzz" over a triplet pulse). When playing this basic accented roll it is important (ironically) to avoid playing the "tap" as an accent. The accent marking should not be taken literally! It is merely a notational device (in the case of written rolls) that indicates that a "tap" should be played instead of a buzz. The "tap" is achieved by releasing the finger/thumb pressure you use for the buzz to allow the stick to bounce freely. Relaxing your grip on the stick slightly on the "tap" will greatly help in its execution. In the following example, the roll is first broken down into the individual strokes you play and then is notated as it would appear in a drum score.



The following videos show the basic accented roll played slowly then played up to speed. The first video is a useful tool for practicing the "pressure/release" in your stick grip as you switch between the taps and buzzes. The second video is useful for a different reason: if there is any excess tension in your snare drum grip you WILL NOT be able to play accented rolls for five minutes!! Try playing along and see how far you get. It's a pretty good workout!!




Have fun working on your accented rolls! Stay tuned for more "Five Long Minutes" blog posts in the near future. Until next time... Happy Drumming!

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