Figuring out how to play the seven stroke roll can unlock new realms of drumming expression—I’ve been there, mastering this pattern piece by piece.
Embrace this rudiment and you’ll find your drumming infused with a refined, intricate groove that’s unmistakable in fills and solos.
Looking for a shortcut? The seven stroke roll comes alive through articulate single strokes (RLRLRLR, LRLRLRL) or robust double strokes (RRLLRRL, LLRRLLR).
Let’s pick up the sticks and break down how to play the seven stroke roll, step by step.
What is a Seven Stroke Roll?
The seven-stroke roll is a drumming rudiment characterized by seven quick strokes that usually span across three or three and a half beats, depending on the time signature and tempo. It can be played with single strokes for a linear pattern or with double strokes for a more rolling sound.
How to Play a Seven Stroke Roll
Approaching the seven-stroke roll with single or double strokes each gives a different feel and suits different playing contexts:
- Single Stroke Method: With single strokes (RLRLRLR or LRLRLRL), each hit is distinct, making it suitable for slower tempos or where clear articulation is desired.
- Double Stroke Method: Playing with double strokes (RRLLRRL, LLRRLLR) allows for a smoother, more connected roll sound and is often used when faster tempos are called for.
- Beginning with Singles: Practice the seven-stroke roll starting with singles at a slow pace to maintain even spacing and dynamics between the strokes.
- Developing the Doubles: When using double strokes, concentrate on the rebound for the second stroke in each double, working towards a smooth, bouncing motion.
- Lead Hand Alternation: It’s essential to be comfortable leading with both hands, so alternate starting the roll with your right and left hand to build symmetry in your technique.
- Increasing Speed: As you gain confidence and control, gradually increase your speed. With doubles, ensure that the bounce remains consistent and does not turn into a buzz.
- Experimenting with Dynamics: Introduce dynamics to the seven-stroke roll by accenting different strokes or changing the volume of the roll as you play.
By practicing and mastering both the single and double stroke approaches to the seven-stroke roll, drummers can enrich their playing with complex patterns and versatile roll techniques.
Different Versions of the Seven Stroke Roll
- Standard Single Stroke Seven:
- Alternating sticking: R L R L R L R, L R L R L R L.
- Double Stroke Version:
- Double strokes leading into a single: Rr Ll Rr L, Ll Rr Ll R.
Advanced Stickings and Variations
Once the fundamental patterns are mastered, explore these nuanced variations:
- Flam at the Start:
- Lead with a flam: Flam R L R L R L, Flam L R L R L R.
- Drag Leading into the Roll:
- Preface the roll with a drag: Drag R L R L R L, Drag L R L R L R.
- Mixed Singles and Doubles:
- A blend of singles and doubles: R L Rr Ll R L, L R Ll Rr L R.
- Double Stroke with Accents:
- Accent the final double in the pattern: Rr Ll Rr L (accent on last R), Ll Rr Ll R (accent on last L).
- End with an Ornament:
- Finish with a flam or a drag: R L R L R L Flam, L R L R L R Drag.
Exercises for Mastering the Seven Stroke Roll Variations
- Focused Repetition:
- Isolate and repeat each variation, paying attention to stick heights and rebound control.
- Dynamic Range:
- Execute the rolls softly, then loudly, to practice dynamic control.
- Tempo Increases:
- Start slow with a metronome and gradually increase the tempo, ensuring each note is distinct.
- Accent Patterns:
- Experiment with accenting different strokes to alter the feel of the roll.
- Integrate into Drumming:
- Use these variations in your regular playing, particularly in fills to add complexity and interest.
- Craft Your Variations:
- Mix singles, doubles, flams, and drags to invent personalized seven stroke roll patterns.
- Record yourself playing and critically listen back to evaluate timing, dynamics, and overall execution.
The seven stroke roll is a more extended rudiment with seven alternating strokes (Right-Left-Right-Left-Right-Left-Right). Start with RLRLRLR sticking. A drummer like Vinnie Colaiuta often incorporates the seven stroke roll into his complex rhythms.