Heavy metal is the most extreme genre in all of metal. It is also one of the broadest genres, with hundreds of attached subgenres. That being said, there are some mainstays throughout the entirety of metal, and one of the most prominent, is the drum roll.
Drum rolls can be used on dozens of ways, whether to highlight portions of a song, or to accent certain guitar sections, but before we get into usage, let’s take about playing:
First off, you need to learn your grip. For drum rolls, the most efficient, and common, grip type is the matched grip. The matched grip simply means that your hands are matched with their grips.
A basic overhand matched grip is achieved by laying your drum stick diagonally across your palm with your palm towards the sky. Once your stick is flat, take your forefinger, and curl it around the stick. Follow suit with your middle finger. Finally, turn your palm face down.
Your grip should be three quarters of the way down the length of the stick. Your ring finger and pinky finger should not grip the stick; they should loosely cradle it. This is the most important thing to remember, as the roll depends on your ring finger and pinky finger.
A basic metal drum roll is performed with alternate single strokes. These strokes are, for want of a better term, bouncy. The roll requires the bounce to keep the motion fluid. The bounce is achieved by loosening your forefinger’s and middle finger’s grip on the stick, so that they cradle it closely to your palm.
When you stroke, your stick should rebound. When it does, it is time for your ring finger and pinky finger to shine. To get the bounce, simply tip the end of the stick, after it rebounds, with your ring finger and pinky finger.
This should cause the stick to redirect back towards the drum. In the meanwhile, your other hand should be performing the alternate stroke. By the time your main hand’s stick strikes the drum head again, your off-hand’s stick should be rebounding.
The best way to perfect the drum roll in metal drumming is to practice. This technique is fairly basic, but it can take some time to get used to. Practice until the motion becomes fluid, then try adding the drum roll to your music.
Drum rolls can work great in the midst of a verse, or even as supplement to an intro. Be creative. While drum rolls don’t fit everywhere (they would practically ruin a guitar solo), experiment with different usages. You never know what may sound cool, so keep your mind open to different possibilities.
If you find yourself having trouble getting the bounce, you may want to start with a single stroke, and perfect the rebound. Your grip should be loose enough to allow the stick to automatically bounce –your wrist and arm have no place within the movement.
Take a block of time each day to practice the drum roll, and remember to focus on your form. Good luck!
Successful Drumming is a step-by-step program which builds on each lesson and holds you by your hand as you learn. You can easily track your progress and see the improvements you made overtime.