Drill the Skill: The Trizzlet

In the early nineties I was playing with the Rob Roy Pipe Band in Kingston, Ontario. Every year, The Rob Roy band would participate in a city wide cultural festival known as "Folklore". Rob Roy hosted the Scottish pavilion at a local high school where the band would perform throughout the day and into the evening playing at least 5 separate half hour shows with the Rob Roy dancers. Haggis dinners were prepared in the cafeteria and Younger's "Tartan Special" was on tap, imported for the occasion (a beer I was very excited to reacquaint myself with during recent trips to Scotland). It was a yearly highlight for the band and was a great opportunity to tighten things up in the early Spring before the start of competition season.

The Folklore festival holds many great memories for me but there was one in particular that stands out. Folklore 1991 was the first time I remember hearing a trizzlet. During some down time between shows a fellow corps member came up to me excitedly with a CD in his hands. That CD was Shotts and Dykehead's "Another Quiet Sunday". The drum corps played the first notes on the album into Mooney's Jig and I was hooked. We listened through the first few tracks including the classic Highland Wedding set and Ass in the Graveyard until we got to the fanfare. Hearing the fanfare was a revelation and, looking back, was a huge influence on my drumming. About a third of the way into the fanfare I began to hear these strange triplet rolls. I couldn't figure out how to play them and neither could anyone in my corps. No one knew what they were called. It was exciting, brand new and at the time quite mysterious. We just figured Jim Kilpatrick was some sort of magician.

After the competition season in 1991 I left pipe band drumming to pursue a degree in classical percussion and did not return to it for twenty years. Upon my return in 2011 I rediscovered the trizzlet, learned what it looked like in written form and began to practice it diligently, both on its own and within drum scores. I learned very quickly that there were no shortcuts to mastering this tricky rudiment. I spent a large chunk of time at slow tempos learning the exact location of the buzz and how to control the same-hand triplet effectively (especially with my left hand).

Since those early days the trizzlet has become popular with top grade bands around the world and is now a staple in competition marches and reels. The trizzlet is very difficult to play and requires slow and repetitive practice to master it. Practising trizzlets on their own is useful when you're first learning but practising them within the context of a musical phrase will greatly speed your progress along.

In this week's "Drill the Skill", the trizzlet is presented within the context of a musical phrase. In the first example, single trizzlets are combined with paradiddles and single strokes. Even though trizzlets are usually found within a larger roll movement, it is important to execute them correctly in isolation first.



The next example shows the trizzlet in its most common form--as part of a larger roll movement. This particular movement is quite common and mastery of it is necessary to play in top level bands. If the execution of this longer roll movement comes easily, try crescendoing it for an extra challenge.



The final example is very fun to play once you wrap your head around it. The trizzlet is combined with back to back four stroke rolls to produce a roll sequence  similar to what I heard in the fanfare on "Another Quiet Sunday".



As always, the full exercise sheet is available to website members in the Subscribers section of the site. Membership is free and so is the growing list of extra materials available! Until next time, Happy Drumming and Happy New Year!

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