Anatomy of a “roll” in Irish traditional fiddling – by Jim Dorans

Anatomy of a “roll” in Irish traditional fiddling

This may be of use to some of you – what constitutes a ‘roll’ ornament. I often read different explanations of rolls in Irish music, and there are different ways of playing them, so I thought I’d do a progressive ‘build-up’ type of explanation.

Using a short phrase from the ‘Flogging Reel’ , 1st setting, bar 5 :

Look at the .jpg, and listen to the sound file, which repeats that bar over and over, gradually building up from a plain long note, gradually adding the elements of the roll until it is complete.

On the sheet music image below :

  • line 1 is the phrase, played straight, no ornamentation.
  • line 2 breaks the long G note into two short notes.
  • line 3 adds a ‘cut’ in between the two short Gs
  • line 4 completes the roll with an extra two notes, G and F#, before the second G.



Mr Jim

a.k.a. “Worldfiddler” on the Fiddlerman Forum.

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