Triple Stroke Roll – A Step Further

November 5, 2023

If you’re wondering how to play the triple stroke roll, it can feel like tapping into the heart of drumming’s rhythm. Trust me, I’ve navigated these waters before, and I’m here to guide you through.

Understanding this technique will double your rhythmic repertoire, giving your drumming an edge that resonates with precision and flair.

Short on time? You can play the triple stroke roll using a smooth triplet feel (RLR LRL) or by executing powerful consecutive strokes (RRR LLL).

Let’s roll up our sleeves and start with the basics of how to play the triple stroke roll.

What is a Triple Stroke Roll?

A triple stroke roll is a percussion rudiment played as three consecutive strokes per hand (RRR LLL or LLL RRR) or alternated (RLR LRL). This roll can be a triplet itself or it can be incorporated into other time signatures, creating a complex and layered sound.

How to Play a Triple Stroke Roll

The triple stroke roll can be approached in two distinct ways. You can play it using the traditional grouping (RRR LLL), or as alternating singles within different time signatures (RLR LRL). Here’s how to master both:

  • Mastering the Traditional Roll: Begin with RRR LLL. Start slowly, ensuring each stroke is even. Focus on using the bounce of the stick to facilitate the second and third strokes.
  • The Alternating Method: For RLR LRL, treat each group of three as a mini phrase within the larger rhythm. This can be played within a variety of time signatures, effectively creating a syncopated feel.
  • Relax Your Hands: Whether playing consecutively or alternating, keep your hands relaxed to maintain smooth transitions and prevent fatigue.
  • Control and Precision: Control is crucial, especially when playing RRR or LLL. Ensure the third stroke is as precise and clear as the first.
  • Integrating into Different Time Signatures: Experiment with placing these triple stroke patterns within various time signatures. For example, within a 4/4 measure, you could play RLR LRL, leaving out one note to fit the pattern into the time.
  • Using a Metronome: Practice with a metronome. For the consecutive strokes, you may want to set the metronome to triplets. For alternating strokes, set it to quarter or eighth notes, depending on the tempo and feel you’re aiming for.

Remember, versatility in playing the triple stroke roll expands your drumming vocabulary and opens up a realm of rhythmic possibilities.

Different Versions of Triple Stroke Roll

Accenting Triplets

  • Standard Triple Strokes with Accents:
    • Accent the first stroke of each hand: Rrr Lll, giving prominence to the start of each triplet.
  • Alternating Accents:
    • Accent every other triplet: Rrr lll Rrr lll, creating a rhythmic pattern that stresses every other downbeat.
  • Displaced Accents:
    • Move the accent through the triplets: rRr lLl rRr, accentuating the second note of each group. Play around with this one, accent only right or only left hand.

Omitted Note Variations with Accents

Combine the concept of omitted notes with accented strokes to develop nuanced variations:

  • Omitting the First Note with Accent:
    • Omit the first note and accent the second: x Rlr, x Lrl.
  • Omitting the Second Note with Accent:
    • Omit the second note and accent the third: R x Rl, L x Lr.
  • Omitting the Third Note with Accent:
    • Omit the third note and accent the subsequent first: Rl x R, Lr x L.
  • Omitting the Fourth Note with Accent:
    • Skip the fourth note and place an accent on the returning first stroke of the next group: Rlr x, Lrl x .

By practicing these patterns, you can accentuate different parts of the roll to create various rhythmic effects and textures.

Exercises for Mastering Triple Stroke Roll Variations

  • Isolation Drills: Focus on each variation individually, ensuring clarity of the accents and the spaces.
  • Dynamic Contrast: Practice playing the accented notes loudly and the unaccented notes softly to develop dynamic variation.
  • Tempo Graduation: Start slow and incrementally increase the speed, keeping the accuracy of the accents and rests.
  • Metronome Use: Work with a metronome to challenge your timing, especially when placing accents off the beat.
  • Drum Fill Integration: Implement these patterns in drum fills, alternating accented and non-accented triplets to add complexity.
  • Compose Musical Sequences: Link various patterns to create longer phrases for use in solos and creative drumming.
  • Record for Self-Assessment: Record your practice and critically listen back to identify areas for improvement.

Wrap Up

Getting the hang of how to play a triple stroke roll (Right-Right-Right, Left-Left-Left) can truly elevate your drumming dynamics. Start by mastering the RRR LLL sticking or RLR LRL. For a modern take brimming with expertise, delve into Thomas Lang’s drumming, where the precision and versatility of the triple stroke roll are on full display.

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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