403: Five-Stroke Roll Exercises & Fills


This is the simplest permutation of the 5-Stroke Roll. Unlike the 6- or 7- stroke rolls where the accents don’t shift between the hands, in the 5-stroke roll you accent alternately between the right and left hand.

In the above example, the pattern starts with the accent. We can also invert the pattern to start with the doubles, as in the example below:

It is quite useful to note that the 5-stroke roll is a 3-note figure. Yes, there are 5 notes, but we can simplify so we don’t count the doubles, i.e. 1 accent + 2 doubles. This can help us when phrasing the pattern as a fill.

By this same measure, the 7-stroke roll can be referred to as 4-note figure (1 accent + 3 doubles).

Exercise 1

With this exercise and the others in this course, once you’re comfortable with the accents on the snare, experiment with moving the accents to the toms and crashes.

Feel free to step up the tempo on these exercises by clicking on the two diagonal arrows. Manually enter a new value or use the top slider to adjust the tempo. The pattern above plays at 90 bpm. Try and get up to 120bpm on this exercise and the two that follow.

Exercise 2

Exercise 3

Exercise 4

The previous exercises phrased the 5-stroke roll as 8th and 16th notes. Now we are going to experiment with phrasing the pattern as 16th note triplets and then as 32nd notes. As a result, the tempo of the grooves below is less than the previous exercises.

16th Note Triplets

First up, we have four 5-stroke rolls with a bar of shuffle groove:

We can change this pattern slightly to convert the last two 5-stroke rolls into an 11-stroke roll:

32nd Notes

To be able to phrase 5-stroke rolls with a straight groove, we need to add some notes at the end. The pattern below is formed from four 5-stroke rolls and one 7-stroke roll.

Exercise 5 – Converting Numbers into Rolls

We can get a more organic understanding of how rolls can be used in fills by applying some familiar fill phrasing ideas.

Once you are comfortable with the sticking, try playing each of these fills with a bar of groove:


This creates two 7-stroke rolls:


This produces a drag and an 11-stroke roll:


This produces two 5-stroke rolls and a drag:

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