Drum Roll Please


This is a form of background music designed to increase anticipation for whatever The Reveal is. (BOOM!)

Happens both in Real Life and in audiovisual media.

Less common than it used to be: Some rock stars abused drum roll privileges with their ten-minute drum solos, and not every drum machine can pull off a drum roll. Instead, producers use the visual equivalent, cutting every two seconds (or is that two frames?). But true drum rolls still get used, especially by shows wanting to evoke nostalgia, and have the advantage of not causing epileptic seizures.

Drum rolls are frequently the subject of, or the announcement for, parody these days.

Compare Fanfare, Rimshot, Dramatic Timpani.


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     The Abridged Series  

  • When, during Spaceballs, Spaceball 1 is transformed into (BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM)...Mega Maid. They even cut to a shot of the drummer.
    • And we're not talking your ordinary, run of the mill snare drum roll: We're talking Dramatic Timpani, here.
  • Spoofed at the climax of Zorro, the Gay Blade.

     Live Action TV  
  • Late Show with David Letterman: When someone is about to perform a stunt, Dave will often ask the drummer to provide a drum roll accompaniment.
    • Anytime Dave does the Top Ten list.
  • Used unironically on Happy Days when Fonzie set a world record of jumping over 14 garbage cans on a motorcycle.
  • Spoofed several times on Beakman's World:
  • Used in early playings of the pricing game Hole in One on The Price Is Right.
  • Mash: In "White Gold," Colonel Flagg prepares to ram his head into a wooden crate (as part of his façade that his prisoner attacked him).
    • In "Smilin' Jack," B.J. affects a drumroll with his lips as he attempts to affect a trick with a hypodermic syringe that Jack did.

  • Fairly common in reggae. Bad Brains uses it a bit (Right Brigade and I and I Survive).
  • The Smashing Pumpkins use it at the start of Cherub Rock.
  • Done by John Densmore during the Doors song, "The Unknown Soldier".

  • In the ballet Fancy Free, the music of the Competition Scene begins with a timpani/bass drum roll, and abruptly cuts off at its climax for a long roll on the snare drum that introduces the first of the Three Dance Variations.
  • Cabaret begins with a drum roll and cymbal crash announcing the entrance of the Emcee. There is a similar drum roll when the Emcee introduces "Fräulein Sally Bowles" singing the title song, and one more for his last exit.
  • In 1776, George Washington's dispatches are always signed "Your Obedient, G. Washington," with a drumroll preceding his name.

     Western Animation  
  • In an episode of Teen Titans, Cyborg requests a drum roll before he unveils the new T-Mobile; Beast Boy obliges by turning into an armadillo and drumming on his belly. He threatens to stop a moment later when Cyborg remarks, "Ladies and gentlemen...and whatever Beast Boy is...".
  • In an episode of Rugrats, before giving a demonstration to Tommy and Chuckie, Angelica asks, "May I have a drum roll please?" And she actually gets one from an unseen source. The opening theme also begins with a drum roll.
  • Tex Avery's W-B cartoon "Circus Today" has the circus orchestra's drummer perform a drumroll as a high dive artist does his act. The conductor stops him and cues the trumpeter to play "Taps" afterwards.

     Real Life  
  • It's not rare for emcees at various awards shows to ask for a drum roll, though this usually consists of the audience drumming on their laps.
  • If "The Star-Spangled Banner" is being performed by a band, it typically starts with a drum roll.

Alternative Title(s): Drum Roll