For the past few years I have been working (at times) heavily on my double bass technique. Some 8 years ago I had mastered the double stroke roll with my feet in addition to some compound stickings. This was enormous amount of work during a period of one year and a half. I used this technique on an album I did with, David Garfield and Tony Franklin, mixing bass drum rolls into para-diddle fills and solos and I was very happy with the outcome.
Then came the time to play this material live and although it was a lot of fun, I was not happy with the dynamic outcome. The double stroke roll is a soft ‘legato’ rudiment, you can use certain methods to tweak it and make it more of a loud roll, but it’s just not very practical in the long run. So you can step on those doubles and play them hard but I ended up beating myself up to much doing that. I don’t use triggers and although I don’t mind compressors and I actually appreciate them on stage (when used properly), I still want to play my acoustic kit at proper dynamic levels without the help of sampled sounds and such. I have actually come to dislike the whole idea of triggering all together. I am guilty though, I did use some triggering (afterwards) when mixing the album. Not that my drumming needed it but be course the mix consisted of more than 40 channels and my drums were simply taking up to much headroom in the mix.
So in with more stuff
It became obvious to me that if I was to be happy, I needed to master the single stroke roll on the bass drums. And boy this is no easy task and at the age of 40 (back then), it´s even more difficult. To make it an even more challenging task, I decided to come up with a new type of technique which I call ‘The Neutral Stroke‘. So on and of, I have been working on that method through the years. It’s related to the heel-to and flat-foot methods, but it’s somewhat cleaner and more precise. It has similar mechanics to hand techniques known as the open-close technique and the moeller technique, in that it is a clean multi-note method, combining two very distinct strokes in to one action.
Finally I use a clean single stroke roll on the bass drum so I switch between two methods. Both methods are designed to loosen up the heel. ‘The Neutral Stroke‘ is designed for extreme speed playing, where as the Clean single stroke roll is great for lower tempos (up to 200). I’m just starting to apply this stuff and work it in to my playing which is EXCITING to say the least.
Where as the bass drum doublestrokeroll works wonders in Latin, jazz and funk of a more acoustic nature, the single stroke roll on bass drums is an unbeatable skill and only one roll method will be quite limiting, so like I said; Exciting times indeed for me, at the age of 47