Fill Of The Week #21

Here’s fill of the week #21:

Wow! That was a lot of notes! I counted 24 in total, and some of them were pretty fast! This is an advanced fill featuring 16th notes, 32nd notes and 32nd note triplets. Lets break it down and have a go at learning it.

Learn The Fill

Let’s start learning this fill by looking at the 16th note skeleton. We’re going play Right-Left-Kick four times and then Right-Kick-Right-Kick to close out the bar. We’re orchestrating it by putting the right hand on the snare and the left hand on Tom 1. Try this slowly at 40-50 bpm and count out loud.

16th note starting point
The 16th Note Base

You can use this as a fill in it’s own right, speed it up to between 80 – 160 bpm and it’ll sound great; maybe I’d tweak beat 4 a little, but it is a great sounding fill.

Once you can play this first exercise smoothly with a metronome, then we can look to add in the 32nd notes. So now we’re going to squeeze a right hand floor tom note between the left hand on the high tom and bass drum. Here’s what that looks like:

adding the 32nd notes to the 16th note bass.
Squeeze that floor tom in; give it a hug

Play this very slowly – 30 to 40 bpm. Have your metronome set to count all the 16th notes. Listen for the right hand on the floor tom fitting between the 16th note count on the metronome. Count out loud as you do it, none of the floor toms should be with the 16th note count. You may want to sing the fill to yourself as you play it; I hear it as:


“Da” being the right hand on the snare drum, “dada” being the tom notes and “Dum” being the bass drum.

Again, don’t move onto the next step until you can play the first and second steps smoothly with a metronome. Take it slow. This is an advanced fill.

Our final step is to add in a couple of buckets of fish. If you’re not sure what a bucket of fish is in drumming terms, check out fill of the week #17, These buckets of fish are a little faster than the ones in fill of the week #17 though, there we played them as 16th note triplets, here we’re playing them as 32nd note triplets. They are still played the same way – Right-Left-Right Kick – but instead of them being between two eight notes, they are now crammed between two 16th notes. Lets have a look at the full fill.

The full fill complete with buckets of fish
There’s nothing a couple of buckets of fish can’t cure.

If you look at beat 4, you’ll notice that the snare and bass drum are where we have played them all along. We just need to cram two tom-tom notes between them. You’ll want to spend some time repeating Right-Left-Right-Kick over and over again until you can play it fast and smooth.

If you’ve managed the other two steps but can get the 32nd note triplet in just yet, that’s ok. We’ll look at some variations for beat 4 in the next section. As a rule, I don’t count 32nd notes, I always just feel them between the 16th notes. If you want to be able to count everything in this fill while you are learning it, then we need to make it a two bar fill and move everything down one subdivision. It’d look like this:

Full fill expanded over 2 bars
The expanded version

Again, if you’re trying this version, set your metronome to between 60 – 80bpm and work carefully and precisely. Count out loud as you practice it.

Taking It Further

This fill is already pretty epic & sounds great. There’s not a lot to really mess around with. A simple way to alter this fill – and maybe make it a little more user friendly – would be to change the ending. Let’s look at some possibilities.

Our first variation is just nice simple 16th note ending.

variation with 16th notes
I like to ROCK!

If you accent the flam on be 4 and flat flam on the “&” of 4 then you’ll create a strong rock ending to the fill.

Our second variation just adds one more of 32nd note lick and ends with a flat flam on the “ah” of 4.

the 32nd note lick continues
Continue licking…

You can leave out the flat flam if you’re having trouble getting to the crash on beat one after the fill.

Our third variation gives us a dramatic ending with 16th note triplets around the kit.

a dramatic 16th note triplet ending
So much drama!

You can orchestrate the 16th note triplets anyway you like… High Tom- Floor Tom-Kick-High Tom-Floor Tom-Kick might sound good (LRKLRK).

Our final variation brings back the bucket of fish, but this time as a 16th note triplet.

the return of the bucket of fish
Just one more bucket of fish

Have fun with fill of the week #21 and see how many ways you can vary the ending.

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