Roll Call: Using Rhythm Syllables (March)

To add to last week's post, it is possible to use rhythm syllables (as found in The Bare Bones Reading System) to help you figure out the timing of your buzz strokes. In an effort to streamline the post I have elected to exclude the syllables for the reel as they are identical to those syllables used in the march. The rolls (as written in a score) are on the first line of each example and the rhythmic breakdown of each roll is on the second line. This week I'll go through each roll and its accompanying rhythm syllables, starting with the trizzlet:

 

The Trizzlet

 

 

The rhythm syllables used for the first line in the above example are (in order from left to right):

  • "Canada Hay"
  • "Canada Bay-Bee"
  • "Canada Canada"
  • "Canada Can-I-Get-A"

The rhythm syllables used for the roll breakdowns (second line), however, need an extra syllable inserted to account for the addition of the buzz between the first and second notes of the triplet. Choices for the new syllable include "One-a-trip-let Hay" or "Cad-a-na-da Hay" (where the first two syllables are said twice as fast as the last two) or, if any of you remember, the "Hug-a-mug-a" syllables from the old Maxwell House coffee commercials a few years back. Any of these would work.

 

 

The Four Stroke Roll (Cut Four)

The rhythm syllables used for the roll breakdown in the example below are (in order from left to right): 

  • Canada Hay 
  • Canada Bay-Bee 
  • Canada Canada 
  • Canada Can-I-Get-A

 

 

The Five Stroke Roll

For the "slow five" the rhythm syllables used for the first line in the example below are (in order from left to right): 

  • Canada Hay 
  • Canada Bay-Bee 
  • Canada Canada 
  • Canada Can-I-Get-A

 

 

For the "fast five", the rhythm syllables needed for the roll breakdown are identical to those used with the trizzlet. However, the last syllable is silent. Let's use the "One-a-Trip-Let" syllables as an example. First off, it is important, when saying these syllables, to say the first two syllables ("One-a") twice as fast as the last two ("Trip-let"). Once you're able to say the syllable correctly, play only on the first THREE syllables but still say ALL FOUR. This will ensure the rhythmic integrity of the roll and maintain the correct space between notes. In the examples below, syllables that should be said and not played will have brackets around them. These syllables apply to the first "fast five" on the left. As you move from right to left, the "fast five" syllables will remain constant but the syllables after the "fast five" will change from "Hay" to "Bay-Bee", "Canada" and "Can-I Get-A".

  • One-a-trip-(let) Hay
  • Cad-a-na-(da) Hay
  • Hug-a-Mug-(a) Hay

 

 

The Six Stroke Roll

With the six stroke roll everything starts to get easier. The syllables used for the roll breakdown are as follows:

  • Canada Hay
  • Canada Bay-Bee
  • Canada Canada
  • Canada Can-I-Get-A

 

 

The Seven Stroke Roll

The syllables for the roll breakdowns in the seven stroke roll are identical to those used in the six stroke roll:

  • Canada Hay
  • Canada Bay-Bee
  • Canada Canada
  • Canada Can-I-Get-A

 

 

The Ten Stroke Roll

The rhythmic breakdown of the ten stroke is as follows:

  • Example #1: Canada Canada
  • Example #2: Canada Canada
  • Example #3: Canada Canada
  • Example #4: Hay Canada Canada Hay

 

 

The Eleven Stroke Roll

The rhythmic breakdown for the eleven stroke roll uses the same syllables as ten stroke rolls:

  • Example #1: Canada Canada
  • Example #2: Canada Canada
  • Example #3: Canada Canada
  • Example #4: Hay Canada Canada Hay

 

 

The Twelve Stroke Roll

The breakdown of the twelve stroke roll uses the following syllables:

  • Canada Canada Boom

 

 

The Thirteen Stroke Roll

The thirteen stroke roll uses the same syllables in its rhythmic breakdown as the twelve stroke roll:

  • Canada Canada Boom

 

 

The use of rhythm syllables is a powerful tool that can help you improve the execution of your rolls. A big thanks to Steve for the blog comments that spawned this post. As always, if you have any questions, comments, constructive criticism or requests for future posts, please get in touch! Until next week, happy drumming!

2 comments

  • Steve

    Steve Moncton

    Zach, Greatly appreciated, many many thanks.

    Zach, Greatly appreciated, many many thanks.

  • Pipe Band Drummer

    Pipe Band Drummer

    My pleasure!

    My pleasure!

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