Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
This week’s fill is inspired by legendary Toto drummer Jeff Pocaro. Jeff is widely regarded as one of the best drummers ever and had a knack for producing the perfect drum parts for songs. I personally learnt a lot from listening to Jeff’s playing and trying to imitate it. His drum fills often weren’t very busy, but they were very effective musical statements. Most non drummers can sing his fills from the Toto song “Africa. for example. This week’s fill is based on an idea that Jeff used frequently.
Learn The Fill
This fill is based around dotted 8th note phrasing. We’re just playing a flam every dotted 8th note – except at the very end. Here’s the basic rhythm:
Play this with a metronome and count all the 16th notes out loud as you do it (1 e & a 2 e & a etc). Focus on getting the first five notes evenly spaced.
Next we’re going to add the bass drum on the quarter note underneath. The bass drum adds a bit more weight to the fill and keeps the time going underneath the fill & provides a nice contrast to the rhythm happening over the top.
You may find this a little challenging at first. Go slow and count all of the 16th notes until you can get it right.
The final step is to orchestrate it around the kit. Here’s my orchestration:
Take It Further
Once you get used to the dotted 8th note phrasing, you can use it starting on other beats in the bar to create new fills. Here’s some basic rhythms for you to orchestrate.
Our first variation starts on the “&” of 1. When the last note occurs on the “&” of 4 it’s common to play the “ah” afterwards.
Our second variation starts on beat 2 and gives us a nice 4 over 3 poly rhythm – the snare plays 4 evenly spaced notes in the time that the bass drum plays 3.
Our third variation starts on the and of 2. To round off this fill I opted to play the “&-ah” 4. If you want to stick to the dotted 8th phrasing then just play the “ah” of 4.
The final variation starts on beat 3, you will hear Jeff Pocaro use this phrasing in the song “Africa” just before the second and third choruses.
I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #47. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.