Friday, 11 May 2012

Tambourine technique V. Rolls.

New article, this time retaking an issue related to tambourine, as asked by one of the followers of Percusize Me!

There are many excerpts requiring differents types of rolls depending on dynamics, musical context...Shake or finger roll: possibilities are allmost endless, and I´m showing you a few of the many options:

The first roll is the traditional shake one, suitable for the majority of the situations. My advice is to practice it very relaxed.

The second one is a variation producing a triplet feeling. You can get the effect using the movement you use when playing single alternating strokes on marimba.

For piano and light passages, the third roll is your best option. Believe or not, I´ve used it quite a few times.

The nightmare every percussionist fears is to play a piano roll and then making a crescendo: the way I´ve found to give the roll a very clear beggining and articulation is to use the previous technique,  and then play the shake. As a result, we get a very clear initial articulation, pianissimo, and the we can do a nice crescendo.

The two handed version allows great volume and a busy roll, also permiting a clear beggining and ending.

Leaning the fingers against the head we can play very long rolls without fatigue, with a very articulate beggining and ending.

But, if we want a very long and piano roll (Shostakovich 2nd Cello Concerto comes to mind) using a riq technique is the best option.

Finally, finger rolls. We should be able to use all of them, depending on dynamics and character we are looking for.

These are just a few of the many possible options. You know I like tambourine, so more techniques will be shown in the near future.

Let me know your techniques and tricks, and I´ll be more than happy to include them in my arsenal.

…et in Arcadia ego.
© David Valdés


  1. wow, this is awesome... it'd also be great if you could include the notation of the techniques shown! Thanks very much much for the video.

  2. To be honest, there´s no special way to notate these rolls (apart from the traditional slashes or trill sign). What I do is to use my imagination and see what fits best the musical situation when I see a roll. No principal or conductor has ever complained about me being imaginative about this issue. Just be creative and musical and don´t worry about notation. Thanks for your comment and for reading my blog.

  3. What's your opinion on addition of a "roll ring" to the edge of the tambourine, to facilitate thumb rolls? Is it unprofessional to use one in an audition that would not be blind? I'll be playing the "Carnival Overture" excerpt in a few months for an audition, and while I will have time to acquire bees wax and practice, I almost feel like a roll ring is a fail-safe.

  4. Would you consider unprofessional a string player just because he is using resin on his bow? Would you consider unprofessional a percussionist just because he is using wax on his tambourine? Would you consider unprofessional a percussionist because he is using a "roll ring"? Unprofessional is playing out of tune, rushing or dragging, with the incorrect dynamics, with an ugly sound... That´s unprofessional. If you play correctly, I don´t mind how you get to it. I have many tambourines with sand paper on it, and no principal nor conductor has ever complained about it. Go ahead and play the way that allows you to get the musical idea in your head. The important thing is the result, not the mean.