>Step by step

Em­bel­lish­ing a groove with roll-es­que flour­ishes

Computer Music - - Studio Strategies -

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.

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