Wednesday, May 27, 2015

7-stroke roll notation in Wilcoxon

Recently, on the Drummerworld Forum, someone asked a question about the notation of 7-stroke rolls in the Wilcoxon books.  I field this question quite often from my students as well.

Many of the youngsters today are not familiar with the notation style of Wilcoxon.  Most of the rolls, like the 5-stroke and 9-stroke are pretty much self-explanatory.  However, when the 7-stroke comes in it’s a bit different.  The thing to remember is that there is not one set way or rhythm in which to play a 7-stroke roll.  The name simply describes how many strokes are in that roll.

Take Solo No. 26, for example, from The All-American Drummer.  In the first two measures we see a 7-stroke roll on the “&” of beat 2.  In this instance, the skeleton of the roll would actually be played as a 16th note triplet.  In line 3 we again see a 7-stroke roll notated on the “&s” of 1 and 2, but here they have a ruff in front of them.  When you see this, the ruff, which falls on the 16th note before the 8th note, is treated as part of the 7-stroke roll.  Is it 2 of the 7 strokes.  This changes the rhythmic makeup of the roll.  It now becomes what is called a “tap seven”, which is a single stroke on the downbeat, followed by double strokes on “e, &, a”.  Here is each type of 7-stroke roll with its modern notation equivalent.

Stylistically, the triplet-based 7-stroke that starts on the “&” is played behind the beat, almost out of time.  There is a small breath before it is played, and the rhythm itself it stretched.  There are quite a few examples of this interpretation here:


  1. I have searched everywhere for a clear explanation of this....
    Thank you, this has really helped me understand this interpretation of the 7 stroke roll :)

  2. This is old now but helped me a lot! Didn't quite get how I was meant to start and end on R without it being a singles roll

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  6. Many thanks, this is the best explanation! I struggled always with the ruff in front, that it counts for the stroke-rolls.