The seventeen stroke roll is a drum rudiment based on the double stroke roll. A simple combination of double strokes followed by an accented single note, you can find it most commonly in snare drum solos.
The seventeen stroke roll is the longest roll-based rudiment. It consists of eight sets of alternating double strokes followed by an accented single stroke.
You might find this rudiment counted in 6/4, 3/4, or 5/4.
Like a progression of the fifteen stroke roll, the name ‘seventeen stroke roll’ implies that there’s a total of seventeen strokes in the pattern.
Here’s what the seventeen stroke roll sounds like:
You can use this tool to practice along at the tempo that’s best for you (it’s the one Drumeo members use when practicing with the 3000+ play-along tracks inside our members area).
The biggest challenge in mastering the seventeen stroke roll is playing tight double strokes, which means finding even, consistent spacing between each note.
Your goal should be to make your rolls sound smooth and clean. You should feel comfortable leading with your right hand or your left. Make sure to accent the seventeenth note every time.
Here are some tips to help you nail this rudiment.
When you’re first learning how to play something, it’s fine to test it out without a metronome as you get used to the pattern. But you shouldn’t go click-free for long. The metronome will help you develop a better internal clock and show you exactly where the timing of your strokes is inconsistent (or where it’s right on the grid).
You can buy a physical metronome at a music store or download a metronome app online.
While it might be tempting to get up to speed as quickly as possible – especially if you’re feeling confident – make sure you’re really playing the seventeen stroke roll cleanly and confidently before you increase the tempo.
Be honest with yourself and don’t move on until you’ve really got it down. Don’t just say “it’s good enough”. Develop control first, and speed will come later.
Try setting your metronome to 60 BPM and then slowly work your way up 5 BPM at a time.
If you’re a right-handed drummer, you probably default to starting rolls with your right hand. Make sure you practice starting them with your left hand too. This will help you get a more consistent sound out of both sticks and give you more confidence and control.
The seventeen stroke roll naturally alternates within itself, but you can sometimes trick your brain just by starting with the other hand.
It’s easiest to correct your posture or grip immediately if you’re watching yourself in a mirror. Try to set up a practice pad and a snare stand in front of a full length mirror if you can.
Maybe your strokes don’t look even. Maybe the height of your right stick doesn’t match the height of your left. You might even notice you’re gripping your left hand too hard. Use your reflection as a window into how you’re doing. It’s like becoming your own drum teacher!
While playing in front of a mirror will help you fix issues on the fly, you might not realize when something is wrong during your practice session. Sometimes we don’t notice issues while we’re in the middle of playing – especially if we’re concentrating hard.
Whether you’re propping your phone on your dresser or capturing it all with a camera and tripod, it’s helpful to watch your practice sessions and critique yourself from a ‘third party’ perspective.
Once you’re comfortable playing this rudiment on a practice pad, try a seventeen stroke roll on the drum set.
You can play it on one drum or break it up between multiple surfaces. Try the following exercises to get started.
With enough solid practice, you should start feeling more confident in your playing. The seventeen stroke roll gives you an excuse to practice your double strokes and gets you one step closer to playing anything you want on the drums.
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