Ever listened to a drum roll and heard something that stands out, like a prelude to the main beat? That’s a drag, and I’ve learned it can make all the difference.
In this quick guide, you’ll learn how to play a drag on a snare drum with finesse, whether you’re aiming for a crisp double stroke or an orchestral buzz.
So, if you’re ready to give your drumming an edge, let’s dive into the world of drags.
What is a Drag (Ruff)?
A drag is a rudiment in drumming that consists of two grace notes played just before a primary stroke. Unlike a flam, which has one grace note, the drag has two, creating a ‘double’ effect that leads into the main note. It’s a subtle, yet powerful way to add texture and depth to rhythms.
How to Play a Drag (Ruff)?
Playing a drag involves control and precision. Here’s how to get it right:
- Begin with the grace notes: Lightly hit the drum with two quick, successive strokes at a lower volume (LL or RR), slightly higher than a flam’s grace note for clarity.
- Follow with the primary note: Deliver a louder, accented stroke (R or L) immediately after the grace notes, creating the full drag effect.
- Adjust the grace notes: Depending on the musical context, you can alter the grace notes from a clean double to a buzzed, multiple bounce stroke for different textures.
Exercises for Mastering a Drag
- For a crisp, articulate drag: Play the grace notes distinctly before the primary stroke.
- For an orchestral buzz drag: Allow the sticks to bounce freely, creating a buzzed effect with the grace notes.
- For drum set applications: Experiment with the dynamics and duration of the buzz to match the style of music you’re playing.
- Start slow: Practice the grace notes separately from the primary stroke to get the timing and touch right.
- Build the buzz: On a practice pad, work on creating a consistent buzz for the grace notes, adjusting stick pressure and angle.
The drag is a fundamental drumming rudiment consisting of two quick grace notes followed by a primary stroke, adding complexity and texture to drum beats.
It can be executed in a tight, controlled manner or with a looser, buzzed approach, adaptable to various musical styles.
Mastering the drag involves practicing the grace notes for evenness, working with a metronome to develop timing, and experimenting with the grace note spacing to transition smoothly into the primary note.