© Mike Moxcey 2005   

Mixing the Rolls

One advantage of thinking in rolls (and licks) is that each one of them last for the same length of time.
This makes it very easy to switch between the two.

Playing Evenly

When learning to play a particular roll, the first thing you do is try to play the entire eight notes evenly.
Once you get that, the next step is to go evenly to the next roll.
Then you try to switch chords between rolls and add lefthand effects in the middle of rolls
all the while trying to keep the music flowing evenly.

The Next Step

The next step to practice is switching between the rolls themselves between measures.
It takes practice.
Here is one version of Bile Dem Cabbage Down done with a panoply of rolls.

Bile Dem Cabbage Down

Moving On

This has just been an introduction to rolls.
It shows you the basics of how to do them and more importantly, how to think about them so you can begin to insert the melody of a song into them.

The next step is to begin using them yourself.
Check out my section on sheet music for some basic tabs to songs,
or get Pete Wernick's Bluegrass Songbook
or if you can read music, play through song books.

  1. Find the melody on the banjo and play it
  2. Play the melody using the square roll
  3. Play the melody with the chords
  4. Try using other rolls. Play completely thru the whole melody using the roll, getting the melody notes when you can, and see which measures seem to fit the song.
  5. Combine all the "good" measures from each roll version into a mixed version that you really like.
  6. Make several different versions.

The End

That concludes this brief intro to bluegrass rolls on the 5-string banjo in G-tuning

The High End

Banjo Rolls