Fill Of The Week #66

Mmm num ba de
Dum bum ba be
Doo buh dum ba beh beh
Under Pressure

This week’s drum fill is based on the main drum riff from the bridge section of the Queen / David Bowie song Under Pressure. This section of the song is a great example of how you can take one idea and produce variations to create a short drum solo. Go have a listen to the song and pay attention around the 2:20 mark.

Learn The Fill

Let’s start by getting the rhythm of this drum fill down. We’ll just play it on the snare drum for now.

The basic rhythm
Keeping it basic

Set your metronome to play 8th notes and start at 60bpm. Count out loud with the metronome and articulate each note cleanly and precisely. Note the sticking pattern I use for this drum fill. I find my left hand is more accurate when playing on “e” and “ah” than my right hand. If you have a sticking pattern that works better for you, then use it.

When you are comfortable playing this rhythm at 60bpm, gradually speed it up. The song Under Pressure and my version of the fill are at 113bpm. You might need to work on your single stroke roll to be able to pump out the 16th note triplets on beat 4 at that speed.

The final thing to do is orchestrate the drum fill around the kit.

The full fill
The full fill

Take It Further

In the song Under Pressure, Roger Taylor builds an 8 bar solo for the bridge section around this idea. The one slight difference is he actually plays a bass drum and crash on beat 1 instead of a flam on the snare drum. The part of the drum fill that gets reused each time is the rhythm from beat 1 and beat 2. He orchestrates it slighty differently each time, but it’s always there as the base for the solo.

So, let’s look at creating more drum fills but keeping beats 1 and 2 the same.

Fill Variations
Change it Up

Our first variation sees us just playing 16th notes down the Tom Toms on beats 3 & 4.

Our second variation sticks with the 16th note subdivision but breaks them up a little by playing on the “e” and “&” of 3 and then beat 4 and the “&” and “ah” of 4. Be careful with accurate placement of the notes here.

The final variation brings back the 16th note triplets but this time on beat 3 and beat 4, ending the fill on the “&” of 4.

If we now replace the flam on beat 1 of each drum fill with a bass drum and crash, then it becomes a little easier to put these into a phrase and create a short solo… something like this:

A Short Solo
Solo Away!

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #66. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message via the contact us page.