Fill Of The Week #14

Warning! This fill goes OVER THE BAR LINE and should only be used in extreme situations! Let’s check it out.

This fill uses a 5 note grouping that’s played 4 times over 16th notes. That gives a grand total of twenty 16th notes, therefore it’s never going to fit in a bar of 16th notes in 4/4. Luckily for us though, it does allow us to end the fill in a rather cool fashion on beat 2 of the next bar, amazing all our friends and family.

Learn The Fill

The 5 note grouping used in this fill is Right, Left, Right, Kick, Kick or RLRKK for short. Playing just those 5 notes shouldn’t cause you a problem. The tricky part comes when we try to apply it in time. It can feel strange because the 5 note grouping doesn’t always start on the beat.

The first step in learning this fill is to just get comfortable playing the 5 note grouping continuously. Don’t worry about playing in time with a metronome to start with, just get comfortable playing RLRKK 4 times in a row, in an even manner, with no gaps between each group:


You can play this on your legs, on the table at work, on your desk at school, or just between the snare and bass/kick drum (K) on your kit.

Once that is smooth, we can start to look at the orchestration around the kit. All I did was simply move the 3rd note of the grouping around the kit. Here’s the fill with the 5 note grouping spelt out:

Fill with 5 note grouping highlighted.
Groups of five are fun!

So you can see, the 3rd note of each group of five is played first on Tom 1, then Tom 2, then the Floor Tom, and finally, the Snare. The RLRKK grouping remains the same throughout the whole fill.

To practice this fill, set your metronome to 40bpm and have it count 16th notes (I highly recommend TempoPerfect by NCH software) and play along with it carefully. It’s also good to learn this fill with the regular 16th note counting so you know where each group of 5 starts. Here’s the fill with the regular 16th note counting.

5 note grouping fill with 16th note counting
Let me hear you counting!

Our first group of 5 obviously starts on beat 1, the next is on the “e” of 2, the third on the “&” of 3 and final group starts on the “ah” of 4. Again, try playing it slowly (40bpm) with the metronome and counting the 16th notes aloud and focusing on where each group starts. This will help to solidify your timing.

Use this fill carefully, it can sound cool when done in a solo or drum-break section of a song. You can also use it in situations where you want to accent beat 2 after a fill and not beat one. The whole band should be accenting beat 2 together with you to make it sound good – check out the chorus of “In The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World for an example of a band all accenting on beat 2.

The other challenge with this fill is getting back into your groove after the fill. You can come back in on the “&” of 2 or on beat 3. Here’s some examples to try:

how to get back in the groove after the fill
Get back in the groove.

Taking It Further

You’ve just learnt a cool 5 note grouping fill and been told you can’t use it unless your band allows to use it… that sucks… however… with a quick modification, you can use it! Woo Hoo! As shown in the bonus fill on the video, (you did watch till the end right?) you can make this a 1 bar fill very easily. Here’s the 1 bar version:

one bar version of the fill
One bar of awesome coming up!

So we simply play just 3 groups of 5 16th notes and then add a single left hand snare note on the end.

The other way to take this further is to re-orchestrate our 5 note grouping. Here’s two examples:

orchestrations of the RLRKK pattern

So we’re still using the RLRKK grouping, we’re just hitting different drums on the RLR part.

Another option is to find other 5 note groups that we like the sound of. Here’s 2 more options:

different 5 note groupings
5 is the magic number

Our groupings this time were RLRLK and then BKBKK (B = both hands). Explore both of those groupings and see what variations you can come up with.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #14. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the Contact Us page.