Exploring Double-Stroke Rolls

By Virgil Donati Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine's April 2010 Issue

Virgil Donati

Having arrived at a circumspect point with my double bass skills, I started looking for an alternative to playing long linear single strokes. I decided to work on double strokes, and after a period of speculative practice, I realized there was potential. I forged ahead, and eventually arrived at a place where the double strokes became a viable alternative to single strokes.

Double strokes can be viewed as being an expressive approach to playing long linear patterns. I believe this is because of the inherent variation in the attack of the double strokes. They offer an alternative to the more rigid sound of single strokes.

The following exercises provide an overview of some of the ways and means I used to develop this skill. Don’t forget to practice each exercise using both right- and left-foot lead.*

DRUM! Notation Guide

February Virgil Donati Lesson

Rhythmic Modulation Effect (RME): Placing the snare on every fourth quarter-note triplet. By playing a snare backbeat with every fourth hi-hat triplet, a sense of rhythmic modulation is achieved.

February Virgil Donati Lesson

Eighth-note triplet hi-hat variations – compound fours

February Virgil Donati Lesson

Compound fours starting on the upbeat

February Virgil Donati Lesson

*Any of the previous exercises can be played with transitions between right- and left-foot lead by placing a single-stroke turnaround at the end of every second measure.

February Virgil Donati Lesson

Odd-Time Double-Stroke Ideas


5-Stroke Roll In 3

February Virgil Donati Lesson

5-Stroke Roll In 4

February Virgil Donati Lesson

9-Stroke Roll In 5/8

February Virgil Donati Lesson

Reprinted with permission of Alfred Publishing from Virgil Donati’s method book Double Bass Freedom

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