Exploring the Five Stroke Roll Use

November 15, 2023

Learning how to play the five stroke roll might seem tricky at first, but I’ve been in those shoes and can assure you it’s manageable with the right approach.

This essential rudiment will take your drumming up a notch, seamlessly blending complexity and style into your rhythmic arsenal.

Need a quick rundown? Execute the five stroke roll with crisp singles (RLRLR, LRLRL) or flowing doubles (RRLLR, LLRRL).

Grab your sticks—it’s time to dive into the five stroke roll.

What is a Five Stroke Roll?

The five stroke roll is a drum rudiment that consists of five strokes played over the course of two beats. It can be executed using single strokes (RLRLR or LRLRL) for a straight feel, or double strokes (RRLLR or LLRRL) for a more traditional roll sound.

How to Play a Five Stroke Roll

Playing a five stroke roll can be done in two fundamental ways: with single strokes or with double strokes. Both methods serve different musical purposes and add variety to your playing:

  • Single Stroke Method: The single stroke version, RLRLR or LRLRL, is straightforward and can be easily inserted into any rhythmic pattern. This method is particularly useful for slower tempos where double strokes may not be necessary.
  • Double Stroke Method: The double stroke variant, RRLLR or LLRRL, offers a more seamless roll effect and is typically used at faster tempos where the bounce of the stick can be utilized to facilitate the doubles.
  • Starting Slow with Singles: When practicing the single stroke roll, start at a slow tempo to ensure that each stroke is even and articulate.
  • Building the Doubles: For the double stroke roll, focus on letting the sticks bounce naturally, using the rebound to execute the second stroke of each double.
  • Alternating Hands: Whether playing singles or doubles, practice leading with both hands to develop ambidexterity.
  • Speed and Control: Gradually increase the tempo, maintaining control and clarity of the strokes. Use a metronome to keep your timing consistent.
  • Exploring Variations: Once comfortable with both methods, explore variations such as accenting the first or last stroke, or changing the dynamic level of the rolls.

By mastering both the single and double stroke methods of the five stroke roll, drummers can add a versatile element to their playing that can be adapted to various musical styles and tempos.

Different Versions of the Five Stroke Roll

Basic Stickings

  • Standard Single Stroke Five:
    • Standard alternating sticking: R L R L R, L R L R L.
  • Double Stroke Version:
    • Double strokes at the start and end: Rr Ll R, Ll Rr L.

Advanced Stickings and Variations

When you become comfortable with the basics, you can start to explore more complex variations:

  • Incorporating Flams:
    • Add a flam at the beginning: Flam R L R L, Flam L R L R.
  • Adding Drags:
    • Begin with a drag: Drag R L R L, Drag L R L R.
  • Single and Double Mix:
    • Combine singles and doubles: R L Rr L, L R Ll R.
  • Ornamented Ends:
    • End with a flam or a drag: R L R L Flam, L R L R Drag.
  • Displaced Doubles:
    • Place doubles in between singles: R Ll R L, L Rr L R.

Exercises for Mastering the Five Stroke Roll Variations

  • Sticking Drills:
    • Practice each variation slowly, ensuring clean execution of flams and drags.
  • Dynamic Levels:
    • Play the variations at various dynamic levels to develop touch sensitivity.
  • Metronome Practice:
    • Use a metronome to increase speed gradually, maintaining rhythmic precision.
  • Accent Placement:
    • Try accenting different notes within the pattern to explore rhythmic dynamics.
  • Application in Beats and Fills:
    • Incorporate these variations into your drum beats and fills, applying them in a musical context.
  • Create and Personalize:
    • Challenge yourself to create unique patterns by mixing singles, doubles, flams, and drags.
  • Recording for Progress:
    • Record your playing to monitor your progress and refine your techniques.

By systematically working through these exercises, drummers can expand their technical abilities and apply the five stroke roll creatively in their drumming performances.


Wrap Up

The five stroke roll combines double strokes with a single to create a nuanced sound: Right-Right, Left-Left, Right. Learning how to play a five stroke roll starts with practicing RR LL R. Dave Weckl’s drumming frequently features the five stroke roll, giving his grooves a distinctive character.

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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