Road to Mastering the Double Stroke Roll?

November 15, 2023

Tackling how to play a double stroke roll can sometimes feel like a double-edged sword, right? It’s a challenge I’ve faced and conquered, and you will too.

Understanding this article will unlock the potential of your rolls, making your rhythms twice as rich.

Short on time? A double stroke roll is a series of alternating double hits (RR LL RR LL) fundamental to advanced drumming techniques.

Let’s roll into action, shall we?

What is a Double Stroke Roll?

The double stroke roll is a step up from the single stroke roll, consisting of two consecutive strokes played with each hand (RR LL). This rudiment is essential for fluidity and speed, allowing for a bouncier, more sustained sound in your drumming patterns.

How to Play a Double Stroke Roll

To effectively play a double stroke roll, follow these steps to ensure clarity and consistency:

  • Start with Singles: Begin with single strokes to warm up your hands. As you feel comfortable, start doubling up your strokes—two with the right hand, then two with the left (RR LL).
  • Even Double Strokes: Strive for two even strokes per hand. The first stroke starts the motion, and the second stroke follows through, like a rebound.
  • Relax Your Hands: Tension will make your strokes uneven and can lead to fatigue. Keep your hands relaxed, and focus on letting the sticks do more of the work with a good bounce.
  • Wrist Control: Your wrists should do most of the work, with fingers assisting to control the sticks, especially at slower tempos where less natural rebound occurs.
  • Practice on a Pad: Using a practice pad can help you hear and feel the evenness of your strokes more distinctly, which is crucial for developing a clean double stroke roll.

Patience and consistent practice are key in mastering the double stroke roll. It’s not just about speed; it’s about control and evenness of the strokes.

Different Versions of Double Stroke Roll

The double stroke roll is a versatile rudiment that can take on different forms to fit the musical context or to challenge the drummer’s technique. Below we blend the sticking patterns you provided with dynamic and accent variations:

  • Traditional Double Strokes: The foundational pattern remains RR LL RR LL, focusing on even strokes.
  • Sticking Variations:
    • Lead with a single right: R LL RR LL
    • Lead with a single left: L RR LL RR
    • Start with the left hand: LL RR LL RR
    • Alternate after two sets: RR LL RR LL then LL RR LL RR
  • Accented Double Strokes: Accent the first note of each double to strengthen the initial hit and improve dynamic control:
    • Accented traditional: (R)R (L)L (R)R (L)L
    • Accented with lead-ins: (R) LL (R)R (L)L
  • Dynamic Control:
    • Piano to Forte: Gradually increase the volume from soft (piano) to loud (forte) and back to soft.
    • Crescendo/Decrescendo within each double: Rr Ll, crescendoing on the first stroke and decrescendoing on the second.
  • Inverted Doubles: Starting with the second stroke allows for different accents and a deeper feel for the bounce of each stick:
    • Inverted Pattern: rR lL rR lL
  • Swung Double Strokes: Add a swing rhythm to the doubles to apply them in jazz contexts:
    • Swung Pattern: Rr Ll Rr Ll

By mastering these variations, drummers can adapt the double stroke roll to different musical genres and playing styles.

Exercises for Mastering Double Stroke Roll

To master these variations of the double stroke roll, practice the following exercises:

  • Accent Placement: Work on accenting the first note of each double stroke. Transition between accented and non-accented doubles to gain dynamic versatility.
  • Dynamic Levels: Play each sticking variation with consistent dynamics. Start pianissimo (very soft) and increase to fortissimo (very loud) over time.
  • Isolated Sticking Practice: Focus on one sticking pattern at a time. Ensure each stroke is even in tone and volume before speeding up.
  • Metronome Graduation: Start at a slow BPM, perfecting each pattern before incrementally increasing the tempo.
  • Long Rolls with Dynamic Changes: Sustain a double stroke roll for an extended period, varying the dynamics throughout the roll.
  • Mixed Stickings with Accents: Combine accented strokes within the various sticking patterns. For instance, play an accented stroke every third or fourth double.
  • Practice on Various Surfaces: Move the double stroke roll around the drum kit, from snare to toms to cymbals, to experience different rebound properties and develop adaptability.

Wrap Up

The double stroke roll is all about smooth, even pairs of strokes: Right-Right, Left-Left. Perfecting how to play a double stroke roll is crucial for fluid playing. Start with RR LL stickings. For inspiration, listen to Buddy Rich’s legendary technique, where double stroke rolls are a staple.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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