Fill Of The Week #4

This week’s fill is a classic. If you haven’t heard this somewhere I’ll be surprised! Here’s fill of the week #4:

Sounds pretty simple! It is! But it’s one of the most powerful and effective fills you’ll come across. Drummers sometimes get lost in playing busy; hitting as many things as they can, as fast as they can. Often all a song needs is a simple fill to move it along. This fill is a very effective rock music fill really makes a statement.

Where have you heard it? AC/DC’s Highway to hell and Free’s All Right Now spring to mind. But there are countless other rock songs that use this fill. It’s one you need to know.

The main thing to focus on is the flams; Make all your flams sound the same. Focus on getting consistent spacing between the grace note and the main note of the flam. Get that happening and you’ll be ready to rock.

Simple variations of this fill include splitting the hands up across different surfaces or playing the flams on different drums. Here’s 3 simple variations:

Fill of the week 4, flams played on snare, tom 1 and floor tom.
Flams On Different Drum
Fill of the week 4, hands split between snare drum and floor tom.
Left Hand On Snare, Right Hand on Floor Tom
Fill of the week 4, hands split between snare drum and crash.
Left Hand On Snare, Right Hand on Crash

While those variations on fill of the week #4 are very useful, we can create more fills by using displacement. The idea of displacement is to move all the notes in your fill a certain note value (an eighth, a quarter, a sixteenth) to the left or right. The notes on the end that get kicked out of the bar, return at the start or end of the bar depending on which direction you displaced your fill.

Here I’m going to displace fill of the week #4 one eighth note to the right. So beat 1 on the original fill will move to the “&” of 1. The note originally on the “&” of 1 moves to beat 2 and so on and so forth. The note on the “&” of four, prior to displacement, will become the new beat 1. Here’s displacement #1:

Fill of the week #4 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Displacement 1: Original fill displaced 1 8th note to the right.

We can keep displacing the original fill by 1 8th note another 6 times to create 7 new fills in total. Here are the other 6 displacements:

Fill of the week #4 displaced by 2 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 2: Displacement 1 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 3 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 3: Displacement 2 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 4 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 4: Displacement 3 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 5 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 5: Displacement 4 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 6 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 6: Displacement 5 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 7 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 7: Displacement 6 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.

If we displaced the last fill one more time, we would end up back at our original fill.

All 7 of these variations are very useful, and of course, you can apply the earlier ideas – flams on different drums & splitting the hands between surfaces – to create more fills. You may have even heard these fills in songs. Displacement number 6 is the basis for the main drum fill in “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n’ Roses for example.

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