Some snare drum sheet music writes out buzz rolls with a Z through the stem. I don’t write it like that because my software doesn’t have that feature, but many others write it my way too anyway so I’ve got used to writing using 3 slashes instead (3 slashes like this /// through a stem line like this |).
Tremolo in Other Instruments
So, the slashes through the notes are also used in other pitched instruments as a tremolo marking. Violins have plenty of tremolo, which is achieved by moving the bow back and forth quickly. You’ll hear the sound in movies where the violins sound intense and brooding by playing 1 note for ages repeatedly. See the video below for an example of this. You’ll hear this more in old programs and films such as in the original Thunderbirds series’.
Tremolo Markings in Drums (The ‘/‘ slashes through the stems)
These tremolo markings in drums can be played with precise double strokes, or with a multiple bounch technique, which sometimes yeilds more than a double with each hand, but thats ok. This article talks further about the ambiguity of multiple bouncing vs precise doubles when reading.
About the Music Sheet (featured image)
On each line that the 1st bar has what you see in sheet music and the 2nd bar of each line shows you the method of playing it. I have chosen to write slashed 16th notes rather than write 32nd notes in the second bars because that’s how I teach drummers to count their buzz rolls, by playing 16th notes and buzzing each hand. So, for a 1 beat buzz roll, you would play “R L R L” 16th notes, and each hand will be buzzed, so it will actually be something like this: RR LL RR LL, or RRR LLL RRR LLL if you play several notes with each hand. For snare drum sheet music with multiple bouncing, I encourage more bounces so it has more of a drum roll feel to it.
Here’s how to play the multiple bounce roll:
When you see 16th notes with slashes in, during regular drum sheet music especially, I would say this always should be assumed as ‘use precice doubles’ if you can manage it with the double stroke technique. For example, the hi hats may have 16th notes but some of the hits are doubled, and these would be played with a strong double stroke technique. In this Samba Funk Grooves sheet you can see that the hi hats have been written as 32nd notes, but they could also have been notated with slashed 16th notes. You can see double strokes played on the hi hat in a groove in this video:
When you see slashed 16ths on the snare drum, this means to play them as 32nd notes, with double strokes (RRLLRRLL for 4 slashed 16th notes).
This video by Ryan Alexander Bloom shows how I play all of my precise doubles. I didn’t realise it was called the ‘Push Pull’ method until I looked up videos on it! At drum college they were just taught as the ‘double stroke technique’. Please make sure to watch the full video if you want to learn double strokes properly, it’s only a couple of mins…
After letting Ryan know that his video was featured here, we arranged for him to write a guest blog post for this website, which you can read here: 3 Simple Drum and Bass Steps – How to Play, With Notation and Variations
→ Snare Drum Piece – Jan 2018
→ Group Snare Drum Piece with 3 difficulty levels (Piece 2, Book 1)
→ Group snare drum piece with 3 difficulty levels (Piece 5, Book 1)
→ (Premium) – 10 Snare Drum Pieces – Book 1 – Levels 1-3 (PDF ebooks)
→ 10 Pages Of Accent Exercises With 16th Notes – PDF Ebook (includes double strokes exercises)
→ Accent Techniques – Down, Tap, Up, Full Strokes