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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.
- Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series: Marik asks for a drum roll. Several times. Then the drum roll goes on too long and he has to ask for it to stop.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Fairly common in reggae. Bad Brains uses it a bit (Right Brigade and I and I Survive).
- 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...".
- 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.