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  #1  
Old 11-01-2011, 05:41 AM
MSPaintClock MSPaintClock is offline
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Default Pianissimo Buzz Roll

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Old 11-01-2011, 05:47 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Getting the actual stroke nice and smooth is a shedding thing, but the tuning of the snare drum is ultra important here. Make sure the snares are not overly tight, and find the spot on the drumhead at which you can fully activate the snares at the lowest possible volume, without too many overtones.

A little experimentation and lots of practice will show you the way.
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:19 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

One of my few gigs is playing the snare for a pipe bane, you could say I have to do a buzz roll once in a while...

Make sure when you're doing the roll that it comes from the arms and not the wrists, if you're using your wrists then the roll will be choppy. What my drum Sgt. constantly reminds me of is to think of a wind up toy-drummer whose arms move up and down and only pivot at the shoulder.

Obviously this movement will be more subtle when you're down to pp but the idea is the same.

I had to look around to find a good video for you, all the pipe drum videos I found were shoddy, check out this guy when he actually shows a sustained roll going (0:33), watch how the stroke comes from his arms and his wrists stay straight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQIADZ3QhmE

A good exercise I like to do while watching TV and I have a clear view of a clock is to start a buzz roll at forte of Metzo Forte and keep it going for a full minute then drop down to Piano or Pianissimo and hold that for another minute, then repeat that about 3 or 4 times and you'll get the idea.

When you get that roll nice and crisp you'll know, it should sound like a long strip of fabric being torn, you'll not be able to distinguish where one hand stops playing and the other stops.

Good luck man, if you want some further inspiration look up videos of Jim Kilpatrick, he shows his buzz roll in a few, KILLER technique.
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Last edited by Red Menace; 11-01-2011 at 07:33 AM. Reason: Added link
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:34 AM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

IDK Red, a pianissimo roll is quiet, and anything coming from the arms isn't quiet and sensitive. By that logic would you go to the fingers for volume? I don't understand how you play a soft roll with your arms unless your wrists are locked...I'd say fingers and wrists are the way to go for any rolls, it seems plain wrong to me otherwise.

Loose snare wires if you want to cheat a little, play it near the edge of the drum to take advantage of the increase bounce near the edge, I just play what is in essence a single stroke roll with each stroke pushed into the head for the multiple bounce effect. The only variable is if I phrase my single stroke roll as a triplet or straight 8's, depending on the tune. If I am just doing a buzz with no musical context, I phrase triplets, only because I think it sounds smoother.
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:48 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
IDK Red, a pianissimo roll is quiet, and anything coming from the arms isn't quiet and sensitive. By that logic would you go to the fingers for volume? I don't understand how you play a soft roll with your arms unless your wrists are locked...I'd say fingers and wrists are the way to go for any rolls, it seems plain wrong to me otherwise
Nope, the loud rolls use more shoulder motion. A clean buzz roll should have a nice, clean up and down motion. By using the wrists you're going to get a choppier roll where each stroke doesn't blend together.

Like I said, the motion is much more subtle when you're playing a soft roll but it still there.

Try it Larry, get your pad and play a buzz roll: first using your wrists like you'd play a single stroke roll then using the "up and down" motion like I suggested. It may feel a little strange but I'll bet the second way sounds a helluva lot cleaner.

I've been in the pipe band for a several months now and I've really noticed how much cleaner my rolls have gotten when I'm sitting behind the kit. The buzz roll is the pipe drummer's bread and butter and I've had to practice mine like hell.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:08 AM
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  #6  
Old 11-01-2011, 07:38 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

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Originally Posted by MSPaintClock View Post
I think if you want speed I think fingers are best but you can't really get a buzz roll from your fingers... can you?
OOPS!! Edited my post and added the link. Thanks for letting me know. Here it is again...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQIADZ3QhmE

Yes you can get a sort-of buzz roll from your fingers which could be covered up by a sloshy snare sound (actually the kind of snare sound I love when I'm playing drum kit) but it'll never be clean.

Check out the video, notice that he drops his wrist on his right hand and whips his left when he shows the individual motions but once he gets the roll going his wrists are straight and the motion comes from the shoulder and elbow... granted not the cleanest roll (Hah! pot-kettle) but he has the motions down.
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Last edited by Red Menace; 11-01-2011 at 07:38 AM. Reason: spelling...
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:52 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

I'm with Red on this. The roll movement starts at the shoulder. PP rolls take almost no energy. The sticks are held very softly, and movement comes from the shoulder. Slow it down, and get the most bounces you can from each stroke. This is what you're going to play, so woodshed it. Louder rolls take a more pronounced movement, but you can pick that up later. Most orchestral drummers use this technique to roll with. Be careful that you don't use tension. You'll choke the roll if you use any pressure. The end result should be a very clean and smooth roll.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:22 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Here's a good demonstration of the motion and the sound it produces.

http://vicfirth.com/education/concer...sic08_2HQ.html
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Sorry, I don't understand this shoulder business at all- that's utterly bizarre too me. We're talking about <1" strokes here. MSPC, the "correct" way to do a pp orchestral roll is to slow the pulsation rate, play about 2" from the edge of the drum, and use a small wrist motion, with no downward pressure at all, keeping your focus on your fulcrum. That's the way my old professor- who studied with Saul Goodman and Tony Cirone, and was a concert snare drum master in his own right- taught it to me, anyway. The big challenge in sustaining them for a long time is not endurance, but staying relaxed and avoiding random unintentional accents from muscular twitches.

Here's a good example of how not to do it. He's playing too fast, too close to the edge of the drum, using way too much pressure, with a (to me) totally inappropriate corps-style arm motion, and with the wrong sticks. And too loud- his "soft pianissimo" is more like an ugly-sounding mp.

WL- Clearly that guy is a real cat, but to me his style is extreme- strangely more corps-like than what I know.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:00 PM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

I'm with you Todd. This is one of those topics that both sides will never agree on, I can see that now. What I want to know, if you are playing a buzz roll from the shoulders...what are your fingers doing? Are they locked tight? To me a buzz roll is the easiest thing there is to play. I don't use the term cleanliness in a buzz roll. Double stroke roll yes, but a buzz roll has multiple bounces per stroke. Each stroke can have a different number of bounces, so I don't see how cleanliness enters into the equation. Now smoothness yes for sure, you want your buzzes to sound smooth, not choppy, agree with that, but I can get a yogurt smooth buzz with my fingers only, if I need more volume, I incorporate the wrists. I never need more volume in my rolls than I get from my wrists.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, do a buzz, or what have you, but I'll be darned if I am going to start a sensitive, smooth buzz roll with muscles located 30 inches from the stick. To me that's like using a sledgehammer to drive a finish nail. I do love my analogies lol.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

I work on my buzz rolls every once in a while.

One thing that has stuck with me from the Billy Ward DVD Big Time is to count in 3s in your head, whether your phrasing is in triplets or not. Orchestra tympani and snare players do this and it helps smooth things out.

Try it, it does help.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:34 PM
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Coldhardsteel Coldhardsteel is offline
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Fulcrum pressure and stick control.

In marching percussion, the pressure on your fulcrum used to create a buzz roll sound is high enough to give some contrast in the roll between the strokes. A concert buzz roll needs to be more of a sustained note, not a timbre. Work on your fulcrum pressure while doing a sixteenth note or sextuplet roll to achieve the evenness you're looking for.

On top of that, check your finger control. Leaving your fingers off the stick will definitely open up windows for unevenness in your roll. Too much give will turn the roll into a duple roll and too little will eliminate that sustained note sound you're going for.

Good luck.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:53 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Ok, correction...

I was a bit mistaken, a Piano buzz roll will use more of the elbow than the shoulders. The shoulders come more into the equation when you want to increase the volume of the roll.

Larry, when I play a buzz roll my fingers are not part of the equation, they're holding the sticks tight enough so they don't fall out of my hands but loose enough to allow them to bounce. In pipe drumming rolls are one of the biggest part of a drummer's vocabulary, almost like a guitarist's vibrato. I told my drum Sgt a few months ago that I wasn't happy with my rolls. To this he responds that HE wasn't happy with his rolls, we should be constantly improving our technique.

I found a snippet of a video where the master himself demonstrates a very brief buzz roll.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RzQMT1lt1E

He starts into an open roll at 0:37 then moves into a buzz roll at 0:46. As he starts the open roll note how he lifts into each stroke, very similar to Jim Chapin's open roll.

http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/j...nopenroll.html
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  #14  
Old 11-01-2011, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

The only thing that really matters is the end result. If it's sonically pleasing, I don't care if you are doing 32nd notes with your forehead. If you get there by locking your fingers, and I don't, at the end of the day...

My way is still better lol.

JK I didn't really mean that. There are many paths to the waterfall. The end result is what actually matters.

We have radically different techniques. It's all good. I can't imagine locking my fingers to play, much like you probably couldn't imagine opening your hands to do a buzz with your fingers/wrists.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:22 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

For concert buzz rolls, the standard technique is to bend only from the elbow. A concert percussion student from Julliard gave me a private lesson on this one time. For softer rolls, slow your hands down and practice longer buzzes. Your buzz rolls are shaky because your buzzing to fast and pressing too hard making choked buzzes. You can get very nice low volume buzz rolls at a stroke speed of only 140 bpm or slower. Trust me it works. If you can get this down, it will help you make your loud buzz rolls sound fuller with less effort too.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:35 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Menace View Post
I found a snippet of a video where the master himself demonstrates a very brief buzz roll.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RzQMT1lt1E

He starts into an open roll at 0:37 then moves into a buzz roll at 0:46. As he starts the open roll note how he lifts into each stroke, very similar to Jim Chapin's open roll.

Wow. Even that video contains a "Travis Barker pwns that guy" comment and the usual resulting argument. God I love youtube.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

For a quiet buzz roll, you don't even have to press the stick down. Just pick them up slightly (less than .5") and let them drop with a loose, almost non-existent grip at your fulcrum. Overlap them and don't let them die on the head. It's almost completely effortless, really. You only need to add a downward stroke if your stroke gets high enough that the individual stick bounces are audible. For everything piano and quieter, no downstroke is required. Relax and focus on the sound.
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Quote:
Originally Posted by toddbishop View Post
Sorry, I don't understand this shoulder business at all- that's utterly bizarre too me. We're talking about <1" strokes here. MSPC, the "correct" way to do a pp orchestral roll is to slow the pulsation rate, play about 2" from the edge of the drum, and use a small wrist motion, with no downward pressure at all, keeping your focus on your fulcrum. That's the way my old professor- who studied with Saul Goodman and Tony Cirone, and was a concert snare drum master in his own right- taught it to me, anyway. The big challenge in sustaining them for a long time is not endurance, but staying relaxed and avoiding random unintentional accents from muscular twitches.

Here's a good example of how not to do it. He's playing too fast, too close to the edge of the drum, using way too much pressure, with a (to me) totally inappropriate corps-style arm motion, and with the wrong sticks. And too loud- his "soft pianissimo" is more like an ugly-sounding mp.

WL- Clearly that guy is a real cat, but to me his style is extreme- strangely more corps-like than what I know.
That's the way I understood a buzz roll was to be played too. With a low stick height and little pressure.

I had a teacher once that explained to me as a very firm grip that wasn't played up and down at all, more of the circular "whip cream roll" which built up to very exaggerated stick heights at a louder dynamic. That really messed with me. As a result, I've tried nearly every technique I can think of to get a nice seamless roll. I'll have to check out the links when I get home. I hope they help.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:19 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Quote:
Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
...let them drop with a loose, almost non-existent grip at your fulcrum.
Yes- certainly the grip should be very light- just to clarify what I said earlier...

Quote:
Originally Posted by brady View Post
I had a teacher once that explained to me as a very firm grip that wasn't played up and down at all, more of the circular "whip cream roll" which built up to very exaggerated stick heights at a louder dynamic.
I wonder what that guy's story was- maybe he taught himself how to play a roll, or something? People have some screwed up ideas.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:21 PM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

Quote:
Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
For a quiet buzz roll, you don't even have to press the stick down. Just pick them up slightly (less than .5") and let them drop with a loose, almost non-existent grip at your fulcrum. Overlap them and don't let them die on the head. It's almost completely effortless, really. You only need to add a downward stroke if your stroke gets high enough that the individual stick bounces are audible. For everything piano and quieter, no downstroke is required. Relax and focus on the sound.

Well said

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Old 11-03-2011, 04:49 AM
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Default Re: Pianissimo Buzz Roll

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
....play it near the edge of the drum to take advantage of the increase bounce near the edge....
exactly...and just let your fingers do the walking.
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