Roll Call: Identifying Rolls in Your Written Music (Part III: The Round Reel)

This week, in part three of "Roll Call", we'll be discussing how rolls appear in the round reel. In the pipe band drumming idiom there are two types of reels: those that are played with swing (using dot and cut rhythms) and those that are played round (sometimes referred to as "straight"). While reels played with swing are found in both competition MSRs and medleys, round reels are found only in medleys. They both use a time signature of 2/2 (or cut time) and are composed primarily of three types of notes (quarter, eighth and sixteenth). Round reels contain the following rolls:

  • Four stroke (cut four)
  • Five stroke
  • Six stroke
  • Seven Stroke
  • Ten Stroke
  • Eleven Stroke
  • Twelve Stroke
  • Thirteen Stroke

In the examples below I have combined rolls that appear identical with the exception of an accent on the first note. The even numbered rolls are on the first line of every musical example followed by the odd numbered rolls on the second line. Let's start with the four and five stroke rolls:

 

Four & Five Stroke Rolls

In a round reel, both four and five stroke rolls start with an eighth note. In the second example, the rolls are shown as they appear if written "over the beat" (if the first and last note of the roll are part of different note groupings). The final example shows two rolls starting on the beat and played back to back.

 

 

Six & Seven Stroke Rolls

In the round reel style, six and seven stroke rolls start with a quarter note if the roll begins on a beat as in example #1. If the "six" or" seven" does not begin on a beat its appearance changes significantly as in examples #2, 3 and 4. The "six" contains an accent on the first note but is otherwise identical to the "seven".

 

 

Ten & Eleven Stroke Rolls

Ten and eleven stroke rolls can sometimes be the toughest to identify because, depending on the musical context in which they're used, their appearance can vary significantly. Example #1 is certainly the most common for "tens" and "elevens" that begin on beats "1" or "3" but example #2 is used occasionally, depending on the composer of the score. When a "ten" or "eleven" begins on an off-beat, its appearance changes dramatically as in examples #3 and 4.

 

 

Twelve & Thirteen Stroke Rolls

The longest rolls you'll see in a round reel are the twelve and thirteen stroke rolls. Example #1 starts with a half note. A "twelve" and "thirteen" will also start with a half note if written on the third beat of the bar. When a "twelve" or "thirteen" is written on the second beat (example #2) or fourth beat (example #3) of the bar, the roll begins with a quarter note.

 

 

The round reel is the simplest style of the five that we play. In lower grade drum scores there are only eight possible rolls you will encounter in your written music. Even in upper grade drum scores it is extremely rare to see a roll other than the eight mentioned above. Have fun identifying your rolls in your round reel style and if you need to brush up on your music theory for this style click here. Next week I'll break down each of these rolls and discuss their proper execution. Until then, happy drumming!

2 comments

  • Paddy

    Paddy Thunder Bay

    I am really enjoying all your information on your website is there any way to have audio on your on your rudiments and exercises

    I am really enjoying all your information on your website is there any way to have audio on your on your rudiments and exercises

  • Pipe Band Drummer

    Pipe Band Drummer

    Hi Paddy. Excellent question! I am currently in the process of organizing/planning for some video sections on the site. I hope to start adding video in the next couple of months. I've already decided the rudiments are the priority so you'll see those first. Thanks for your patience--it will be rewarded soon :-)

    Hi Paddy. Excellent question! I am currently in the process of organizing/planning for some video sections on the site. I hope to start adding video in the next couple of months. I've already decided the rudiments are the priority so you'll see those first. Thanks for your patience--it will be rewarded soon :-)

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