It’s fill of the week time. Here’s number 10:
This is a simple accented 16th note fill that shows how accents can bring life to anything you play. Let’s learn it.
Learn The Fill
There is not a great deal to this fill. It’s 16th notes played on the snare drum and we’re accenting some of them. Here’s the fill.
Practice this fill slowly at first, really exaggerate the motions and difference between the accented and unaccented notes. Your accented notes want to be as loud as a shout, your unaccented notes should be as quiet as a whisper. Speed it up slowly and try to maintain the different sound levels.
A common problem I hear when people try to learn these fills is they don’t focus on what the sticks are doing & they don’t listen to the sound they are producing. Often the fill sounds flat because the soft notes are too loud and the loud notes are too soft.
To prevent this, play all of the soft notes with the sticks at a 0 degree angle – parallel to the drum, 3 – 5 cm or 1 – 2 inches above it – don’t let them come up any higher than that. Play all of the loud notes from a 90 degree angle – perpendicular to the drum – don’t start them any lower. This should ensure your accented and unaccented notes sound different as you have a lot more time to accelerate the stick when starting at a 90 degree angle as opposed to a 0 degree angle.
As you speed up you may need to lower the accents from that 90 degree angle, but don’t let the soft notes get any higher and make sure there is still an easily discernible difference between your accented and unaccented notes. Focus on what your sticks are doing and the accents will come out naturally.
Take It Further
A simple way to make this fill sound a little fuller is to add the bass drum on the quarter note pulse. This adds more weight to the fill and highlights the contrast between the pulse and the accent pattern more.
The easiest way to vary an accent pattern is to put some or all of the accented notes on the toms. This can create melodic ideas between the snare and toms. Here’s 3 examples:
When you moving from an accented Tom note back to an unaccented snare note, focus on playing the unaccented snare note quietly. Often with this type of fill, the student focuses on playing the accents on the tom toms and completely forgets that most, or maybe all, of the snare drum notes are supposed to be quiet. If you play all of the snare drum notes loud, you’ll drown out the accents on the toms. It’s the Tom Tom melody that we want to hear, not the the snare drum (unless it’s accented and part of the melody.) Try adding the bass drum in on the quarter note pulse to spice these fills up further.
Another good exercise to try that will work on your stick control is to take a pattern that is commonly played around the kit and apply the accent pattern to it. In this first example I take a pattern that everyone has played, four 16th notes on each drum going around the kit, and apply the accent pattern to it.
What was originally a very simple pattern to play has now got more difficult. Take your time with it and develop the ability to drop accents into common ways of moving around the kit. It’ll help you to express yourself fully on the kit.
Here’s two more common patterns to try:
Have fun trying out all those variations of Fill Of The Week #10. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the Contact Us page.