Find More Power In The Five Stroke Roll: #2

More Power From The Five-Stroke Roll: Part 2

[Ed. Note: This is the second article on the five-stroke roll in this series. To see part 1, go here.

You know how to play a five-stroke roll on the snare drum, but how do you use it musically on your kit?

I am not going to tell you how to use it musically. Instead I will share with you some more exercises based on the five-stroke roll that might help you find great sounding musical ideas and stir your imagination, pulling you out of your comfort zone in the name of learning progress.

One of the most obvious drumset applications for the five-stroke roll involves moving the accented note at the end of the roll to your toms.

It seems simple, but there are several important things that require focus and attention. Star slowly and make sure that your doubles are even and quieter than the accented notes on your toms. Focus on hitting each tom in the center for full and rich sound. That is particularly difficult when playing at faster tempos.

Get used to the natural way first by playing right-hand accents on your toms on the right side of your drumset and left hand accents on the left side before experimenting with crossing over your hands. Practice all of the exercises at various tempos, stay relaxed and make sure that you always sound even and clean.

Ex. 1


Whenever you are looking for an easy way to make your hit/tone sound bigger, a flam usually does the trick. That’s exactly what I have done in the next exercise to beef up the accents. Start by simply flamming the accented note at the end of the roll. You will notice that one of your hands will always end up playing 3 strokes.

You can stick to the traditional 4/4 approach or move on to shortening the accented note in 6/8 (as we talked about last time). This modification seems to me to have a bit more flow to it so I pick that for the demonstration.

Ex. 2

I usually create and practice rhythmic phrases that switch between regular and double time. (Example: 4 times + 4 times 2x as fast) This way you are exposed to different and often hidden physical/mechanical challenges. The fact that the faster you play, the closer your sticks are to the surface of your drum usually gives quite a workout.

Ex. 3

Now let’s move the accented note to your toms leaving the ghost note on the snare.

Ex. 4

Time to move the ghost notes onto our toms as well.

Ex. 5

This is probably my favorite flam combination. Playing the ghost note of the flam on the bass drum while keeping the accented notes on the toms.

All of the exercises so far have kept the two doubles in the five-stroke roll on the snare drum. I think it’s time to change that.

Moving the doubles over to toms have several significant benefits besides the sound. The stick doesn’t bounce off toms nearly as much as it does on the snare drum, so in order to produce a clean double, you have to use your wrist with the help of your fingers. On top of it all, not all the toms bounce the same so you will develop a great stick control regardless of which surface you are playing on.

Ex. 6

Ex. 7

In order to really strengthen our stick control and experience the difference in the stick rebound from all of our drums let's move the five-stroke roll around the drums in the clockwise direction.

Round And Round we go.

Remember these are all just various exercises that will help you gain much better control over your instrument. I hope that these ideas and sound combinations will open a new door or two for your own creativity and musicality.

Have fun!