Common orchestral techniques, and sometimes referred to as rudiments, these roll types are less discussed than is prudent among percussionists. Good snare drummers inherently know about this concept, but just a few of the many, many method books out there mention the idea explicitly. Whether or not Press Rolls and Crushed Ruffs are synonymous or separate is debatable. The terms Crush Roll, Crush Stroke, Zut, Dry Buzz, and Crushed Buzz also muddy the waters. The name Press Roll is also often used to describe a standard Multiple Bounce Roll. Crushed Rolls are sometimes referred to pejoratively, when drummers have not allowed their sticks to rebound correctly during a Multiple Bounce Roll. Confusion is the status quo in this area.
Here we will be discussing these techniques/rudiments under the assumption that they refer to extremely short duration rolls where a standard Multiple Bounce Roll with alternating hands is impractical. If completing 2 or more separate, independent buzzed or multiple bounced strokes for a given roll yields a poor result, due to note duration or tempo constraints, a Press Roll or Crushed Ruff is probably the better option. For example, a roll lasting a single 16th note would be a good candidate for one of these techniques. Similarly, a roll on an 8th note that is not tied to the next beat, or an untied quarter roll at a fairly high tempo, or any short roll with a staccato mark would also qualify.
Books and Papers
Below I will run through the literature that talks about this concept. The first mention of anything like this that I have seen was by Ed B. Straight in 1917. He indicates that short, untied rolls should be played with a single hand, but does not give the technique a name. Carl Gardner approaches the topic in 1919 and recommends the “simultaneous striking and bouncing of both sticks” for what he terms the Crushed Ruff. The US Army reiterates the name Crushed Ruff with the same technical approach as Gardner in Training Manual No. 6 of 1922. In 1940, Podemsky calls the two-handed buzz the Crush Stroke. Buddy Rich uses the term Press Roll in 1942, with both hands playing together. Alyn Heim uses the term Crush Roll in 1958 for the two-handed buzz. Forrest Clark uses the term Crushed Ruff in 1964 and recommends that both hands be used, but not quite simultaneously. He describes what sounds like a buzzed Flam, where one hand “slightly precede[s]” the other hand, and both bounce nearly, but not exactly, together. The terminology gets really interesting if you consider the opinion of T.M. Lommell in 1969. He argues that the Press Roll, played with both hands, should be considered a rudiment, and that short tied rolls were Crushed Ruffs (probably, though not explicitly, a single-hand buzz and a final opposite-hand tap), and that a short untied roll was simply a ‘short “buzz,”‘ (unclear if it was 1 hand or 2 hands). In 1970, Payson calls a 2-handed buzz a Crush Roll. Garwood Whaley uses the term Crush Stroke in 1980 for a one handed buzz. In 1988, Allen Otte mentions a Crush Stroke played with both hands in his solo What the Snare Drum Tells Me. In 1993, Freytag and/or Whitlock indicate a single-hand buzz in the Rudimental Cookbook, termed the Crushed Buzz. In 1995, Herlin Riley calls a single hand buzz a Press Roll. In 1996, Anthony Cirone uses the term Crush stroke for a one hand buzz. Cirone calls a two-handed buzz a Crushed Roll in 2000. In both 2002 and 2005 publications, James Campbell consistently uses the term Crushed Roll for his two-handed buzz. Will Rapp, percussion consultant for Hal Leonard band methods, repeats the idea of the two handed buzz for the Crushed Ruff in 2004. W.R. Schoolfield indicates in 2017 that the term Press Roll refers to short duration, untied rolls, but gives no indication of technique. James Strain, also in 2017, indicates that a Press Roll is played with both sticks together. Robert Miller and I published the name Crush Roll (Miller’s personal choice of term) in 2021 for a two-handed buzz.
In the above 22 written opinions over a 104 year span there is no consensus. There are 5 mentions of the name Crushed Ruff, 5 mentions of Press Roll, 5 mentions of Crush Roll, 4 instances of Crush Stroke, 2 mentions of a short roll or short buzz with no other formal name, and 1 mention of Crushed Buzz. For technique, there are 6 instances of a one-handed buzz and 15 instances of a two-handed buzz. One author does not mention technique at all.
15 of 22 opinions give a name with ‘Crush’ in it — Crush(ed) Ruff/Roll/Buzz/Stroke. Only 3 of these ‘Crush’ instances are one-handed, while the other 12 are two-handed.
All 6 of the total one-handed buzz mentions have a slightly different name attached to them. Interestingly, 5 of 6 one-handed recommendations were published between 1969 and 1996. Outside of that 27 year span it is overwhelmingly the case that any of these names should refer two-handed buzzes.
If we have to assign a single name and technique to this idea, the data above seem to suggest that Crushed Ruff – Played with Two Hands is the correct answer. This is clearly not universal, but best fits the literature as a whole. It could also be Crush Roll, but that is confusingly also associated with the normal multiple bounce roll so I have made the unilateral decision to go with Crushed Ruff instead.
In my opinion, there are times with the note density and rhythmic complexity make it more convenient to buzz with one hand, and other times it is preferable to use two. Neither is inherently better or worse, but they are instead situationally dependent. It is very hard to assign a singular name to each technique, though Crushed Ruff and Crush Roll seemingly always refer to a two-handed technique. The other names are either only mentioned once or have multiple technique options attached to them.
It has been suggested that Rudimental players like the word Buzz, that jazz players like the word Press, and Classical players prefer Crush… but this does not always stand true, because many players are rudimentally trained jazz musicians, classically trained rudimental drummers, classical percussionists who also play popular music, or some other combination. There is no good way to separate the terms by genre with any certainty.
Buddy Rich and Herlin Riley both use the name Press Roll, both were jazz drummers, and they completely disagree on whether the Press Roll is done with one or two hands. Another problem with the Press Roll is that many percussionists use this term interchangeably with Multiple Bounce Roll or Buzz Roll. All of the iterations noted in this article refer to short duration or explicitly staccato rolls, not general Multiple Bounce Rolls of varying lengths and styles. The use of Crushed Ruff or Crush Stroke is less confusing because they have a much more specific connotation towards the short duration rolls.
The purely classical percussionists seem to all use the word Crush, and advocate for two hands, but do not agree on the exact term. The drummers known for their purely rudimental contributions are all over the place with no consensus. Modern rudimental players are also trending toward the word Zut or Dry Crush (specifically because of Virtual Drumline’s naming conventions on this last one), though it is far from universal and they not seem to appear in published books or papers that I could find.