Snare Drum Instruction – Double Stroke Roll

The double stroke roll is one of the fundamental pillars of snare drum instruction and a very important snare rudiment. The double stroke is commonly used by marching band and military snare drummers to produce rolls that sound like machine gun fire.

A single stroke roll, which is another basic snare drum rudiment, is played by alternating the right and left hands on the drum, as in:

L R L R L R …

The double stroke roll is played by alternating the hands, but with two strokes each, like so:

L L R R L L R R L L R R …

Understanding this, you might at first think, the double stroke roll, what is it good for? If each hand needs to do two strokes, then isn’t the speed of the roll limited by how fast a single hand can repeat a stroke? So wouldn’t the double stroke roll be much slower?

That is correct only if each double stroke roll is played with two identical motions of the hand. This roll really shines when each double stroke is played with a single motion.

Just imagine, if you were to play a single stroke roll, but each stroke sounded like two, you’d make a pretty mean roll! And this is almost exactly what we’re going to do here.

In reality, we can’t have the stick hit the snare drum once and sound twice, no matter what. Yes, it’s true! 😉 But what we can do, is have the stick bounce off the drum twice with a single motion of the hand.

Once you hit the snare drum, the stick bounces back up, and if you don’t retract your hand or stop the stick’s motion, the stick will drop back down and hit the drum again. So here we have it, one motion and two hits of the drum. But this is not quite the desired result because the stick’s natural up and down motion will be rather slow.

To make the stick successively hit the drum fast, you must keep applying pressure, i.e. push down, on the stick as it bounces up in order to force it to come back down again quickly and forcefully. Release the pressure after the second hit to be sure that it only hits twice.

You may want to practice bouncing the stick twice with each hand alone before attempting the roll. When practicing, experiment with different amounts of applied pressure. The greater the pressure, the quicker the double bounce. Once you master the double bounce, alternate the hands to form the double stroke roll. Practice the roll at various speeds and make sure that all drum hits are as evenly spaced as possible.

For a more powerful double stroke roll, instead of just applying pressure with your hand on the second stroke, propel the stick by pushing it down with your fingers. This way you’ll essentially hit the drum once by pushing the stick with the whole hand, and a second time with the fingers. With much practice of this technique, you can play double stroke rolls with the first or second note accented (played louder).

A successful execution of the double stroke roll depends upon proper drumstick technique. Therefore, you may want to read the instructional technique lessons if you haven’t done so already. Start by reading the stick balance lesson.

The double stroke roll is one of the fundamental pillars of snare drum instruction and a very important snare rudiment. The double stroke is commonly used by marching band and military snare drummers to produce rolls that sound like machine gun fire.

A single stroke roll, which is another basic snare drum rudiment, is played by alternating the right and left hands on the drum, as in:

L R L R L R …

The double stroke roll is played by alternating the hands, but with two strokes each, like so:

L L R R L L R R L L R R …

Understanding this, you might at first think, the double stroke roll, what is it good for? If each hand needs to do two strokes, then isn’t the speed of the roll limited by how fast a single hand can repeat a stroke? So wouldn’t the double stroke roll be much slower?

That is correct only if each double stroke roll is played with two identical motions of the hand. This roll really shines when each double stroke is played with a single motion.

Just imagine, if you were to play a single stroke roll, but each stroke sounded like two, you’d make a pretty mean roll! And this is almost exactly what we’re going to do here.

In reality, we can’t have the stick hit the snare drum once and sound twice, no matter what. Yes, it’s true! 😉 But what we can do, is have the stick bounce off the drum twice with a single motion of the hand.

Once you hit the snare drum, the stick bounces back up, and if you don’t retract your hand or stop the stick’s motion, the stick will drop back down and hit the drum again. So here we have it, one motion and two hits of the drum. But this is not quite the desired result because the stick’s natural up and down motion will be rather slow.

To make the stick successively hit the drum fast, you must keep applying pressure, i.e. push down, on the stick as it bounces up in order to force it to come back down again quickly and forcefully. Release the pressure after the second hit to be sure that it only hits twice.

You may want to practice bouncing the stick twice with each hand alone before attempting the roll. When practicing, experiment with different amounts of applied pressure. The greater the pressure, the quicker the double bounce. Once you master the double bounce, alternate the hands to form the double stroke roll. Practice the roll at various speeds and make sure that all drum hits are as evenly spaced as possible.

For a more powerful double stroke roll, instead of just applying pressure with your hand on the second stroke, propel the stick by pushing it down with your fingers. This way you’ll essentially hit the drum once by pushing the stick with the whole hand, and a second time with the fingers. With much practice of this technique, you can play double stroke rolls with the first or second note accented (played louder).

A successful execution of the double stroke roll depends upon proper drumstick technique. Therefore, you may want to read the instructional technique lessons if you haven’t done so already. Start by reading the stick balance lesson.

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