>Step by step
Embellishing a groove with roll-esque flourishes
1 Here’s a simple four-bar groove, which I’ll embellish with various roll-related fills and flourishes. First, throw in a short snare press roll. With Snap turned off (see Part 1), I draw in six loosely spaced hits, representing three very fast doublestrokes (l, l, r, r, l, l), and followed by the right hand moving back to the hi-hats.
2 The drummer would be likely to drop the hi-hat hit coinciding with the first note of the roll, as their right hand would be moving rapidly towards the snare at that point – so I make sure to delete that MIDI note. Now all that remains to be done here is to emulate realistic sticking, using MIDI velocity.
3 What I want is the whole roll to be a lot quieter than the main snare hits, but with a slight initial accent. Therefore, after a fairly loud first double-stroke, the second one, played with the stronger right hand, should be made a touch heavier than the following and final left hand double-stroke.
4 Rolls aren’t just for the snare – they can work well on hi-hats, too. Here, I’ve copied/pasted the snare roll from the previous step to the hi-hat tip articulation (it’s not really possible to play a roll using the stick shoulder), changed velocities to emulate right, left, right sticking, and used it as the basis for a more expressive line.
5 A single accented note on the end of a roll gives it finality. If I draw in a series of two double-strokes at the end of my phrase followed by a full-strength hit, the result is known as a five-stroke roll, which – along with its self-explanatory sevenand nine-stroke siblings – is a ‘rudiment’ that every drummer learns. Very useful.
6 Finally, let’s go for a full-on multiaccented roll found in an extended drum fill or solo. First, draw a low-velocity roll and remove other sticked elements that coincide with it. Then max out velocity on your accented hits, and move some to a rimshot articulation if your kit has one, for realistic variation.