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Fill Of The Week #8

Here’s a simple polyrhythmic triplet fill you can use next time you’re playing a shuffle or another 8th note triplet groove.

This fill uses groups of 4 over the triplet subdivision to give a polyrhythmic feel. It’s not quite as simple as it seems. Let’s break it down.

Learn The Fill

Our first step is to understand the polyrhythmic nature of the fill. The fill is based on a 3 over 4 polyrhythm. Try playing this exercise:

accented triplets
Count out loud and hit those accents hard

If you are playing it correctly, you should hear your bass drum playing the regular 4/4 pulse and the snare drum accent playing a regular pulse over the top. The bass drum is playing a 4/4 pulse, the snare drum appears to playing a 3/4 pulse but in the same amount of time. If we remove the unaccented snare drum notes and add the counting then we get this:

3 over 4 poly rhythm
3 over 4 polyrhythm

Being able to play this rhythm will give you a better understanding and feel for this fill and enable you to create your own ideas.

Fill of the week 8 uses four-note groupings over the 8th note triplet to create the illusion that we are briefly playing in 3/4 time. Here’s the fill with the counting added; we change from one drum to another where the accents were happening in our first exercise – beat 1, the “puh” of 2 and the “let” of 3

Fill of the week + counting
Count out loud while you play it

The fill is simple to execute physically, but mentally it can be challenging. Don’t lose your timing while playing the fill!

Take It Further

Adding the bass drum under this fill on the quarter note pulse brings out the polyrhythmic nature of the fill more. It may also give people who are clapping along with you a better chance of staying in time!

Fill of the week with added bass drum 1
Keep the beat with your feet

Having the bass drum playing on the 3/4 pulse will add to the weirdness of the fill and really make it difficult for people clapping along.

Fill of the week with added bass drum 2
The drummer has lost the plot!

We can also make the 3/4 pulse more obvious by playing something like this:

alternative fill 1
Play a tom tom on the 3/4 pulse

This fill just has a tom tom played on the 3/4 pulse. Accent the tom tom and play the snare quietly to really bring out the 3/4 feel.

The next variations just use different 4 note groupings.

alternative fill 2
Common 4 note pattern played in triplets
alternative fill 3
Another common pattern including the bass drum

Both of those fills will make your next blues jam more interesting.

I hope you enjoy working on fill of the week #8 and if you’re in Singapore and would like a free trial drum lesson, reach out to us on the contact us page.

Groove Of The Week #8

Let’s bounce along and enjoy Groove of the Week #8:

Groove of the week 8 is, of course, a shuffle. A groove that has powered countless Blues and Country songs as well as many popular Rock & Pop songs. You’ve probably heard shuffles on Confident by Demi Lovato, Ex’s & Oh’s by Elle King, Grace Kelly by Mika, Black Night by Deep Purple, Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen, Roadhouse Blues by the Doors and many other great songs. Let’s check it out.

Get The Groove

The most important thing for the shuffle is having a consistent feel between the notes on the hi-hat. The shuffle is formed by playing the first and last notes of the 8th note triplets. It can be hard to keep this steady at first. Lets try to develop a nice steady shuffle.

Step 1:

Shuffle development exercise 1
Pay attention to the sticking and count out loud.

In step 1 we play all of the 8th note triplets. The right hand plays the first and last note of the triplet, the left hand plays all the middle notes (the “puh”)

Step 2:

Shuffle Development Exercise 2
Move the right hand to the hi-hat; Keep counting.

In step 2 the pattern is the same as step 1 but we move the right hand to the hi-hat. You should be able to hear the shuffle rhythm on the hi-hat now.

Step 3:

Shuffle Development Exercise 3
Stop the left hand; Keep counting.

In step 3 we stop playing the left hand on the snare drum, we now have just the shuffle rhythm playing on the hi-hat. Keep counting out loud to make sure you are leaving space for the middle note of the triplet. Try moving smoothly between step 2 and step 3 without stopping. Play 4 bars of each. Does you’re right hand hi-hat part remain constant?

Step 4:

The shuffle complete
Add some bass and snare drum. Keep counting.

Finally in step 4 we add the bass and snare drum to complete the groove. Keep counting out loud to solidify the feel.

Taking It Further

There are many great variations on the shuffle, but for now we’ll stick with this basic one and look at adding fills to it.

As with any groove you want to be able to move in & out of it using drum fills. Normally when playing shuffles drummers will stick to the 8th note triplet subdivision as a base for fills. Here’s 4 basic fills that you’ll want to be able to do.

shuffle fills
Four Basic Triplet Fills

Once you have these 4 basic fills down, then try moving your hands around the kit to create your own ideas. Check out Fill Of The Week #8 for a more advanced triplet fill.

I hope you enjoy shuffling along with Groove of the week #8. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, please contact us via the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #7

It’s fill of the week time. Here’s number 7:

This is another fill that uses the 6-6-4 phrasing; check out Fill Of The Week #6 if you’re not sure what that is. Let’s break this fill down.

Learn The Fill

Our first step in learning this fill is to get the Right hand part correct. The right hand is playing a eighth notes on this fill and the other limbs will fit in with it. Here’s the right hand part:

Right hand pattern for fill of the week 7.
Right hand pattern

Our next step will be to add the left hand. Be sure to count when you do this. You should be counting “1 e & 2 & ah 3 & 4 e & ah”. Here’s the both the right and left hand.

Right and left hand part for fill of the week #7
Both Right and Left Hands

This is a nice fill sounding fill on it’s own. But to complete it, we need to add in the bass drum in the spaces to get the full 16th note flow. Here’s the full fill:

Full fill of the week #7
Adding the bass drum.

If you are having trouble learning this fill, just focus on the first 6 notes to start with. Get the first 6 nice and smooth. Then look at the last 4 notes. Because this is a 6-6-4 fill, we only need to learn the first 6 notes and the last 4. The middle 6 is the same as the first 6, so once you can play the first 6 notes, just need to focus on playing them twice in a row. Easy!

Take It Further

A good exercise to do with this fill, is to just vary the last 4 notes. There is a myriad of things you can do on that last beat. Practicing like this will again help to make you more responsive in playing situations. Here’s some suggestions:

full fill with variations on beat 4.
Just change beat 4

If you are more rhythmically advanced, you can try these suggestions:

Fill of the week 7 with rhythmic variations on beat 4
A little rhythmic variation

These variations all bring something different to the fill. The 8th notes on beat 4 in the first variation bring the fill to an end with a certain authority – especially if you accent them. The 8th note triplets in the second variation give a more dramatic feeling. The 16th note triplets in the 3rd variation just help to push the energy of the fill up a little more.

Have fun with fill of the week #7 and if you’re in Singapore and would like a free trial drum lesson, use the contact us page to let us know!

Groove Of The Week #7

Here’s groove of the week #7 – possibly the happiest groove on the planet!

What a great groove. It is of course a Soca & it has to be one of the most popular grooves on the planet. You’ll have heard a slow version of it in Despacito. Ed Sheeran strongly hints at it in his hit song Shape Of You. Shakira used it in Waka Waka & Sia did a slow version in her song Cheap Thrills. There are countless Techno/Dance songs that use this beat because it is so upbeat and just makes you want to dance.

I first came across it on holiday in the Caribbean in the late 1980’s. It’s a beat that propels a lot of the music across the islands and can be heard behind steel drum bands and influencing the local pop music. It instantly became one of my favourite beats to play.

Get The Groove

You may need to start this one by learning the hands separately. Here’s the hands on their own. Focus on letting the right hand maintain consistent 8th notes on the hi-hat and just slot the left hand in between on the “ah of 1” and “ah of 3” and together with the right hand on the “& of 2” and “& of 4”

Just the hands
Just the hands

The next step is to add the bass drum on 1, 2, 3 & 4 to make it easy to dance to.

The full  Soca groove
Add the bass drum & Soca away!

When I play this groove I tend to accent the snare drum on the “& of 2” and “& of 4” as this is how I first heard it and I like how it adds a little more movement to the groove.

Taking It Further

Adding a busier hi-hat pattern to the Soca can increase the energy of the groove again. Here’s 3 suggestions

Hi-Hat variations of the soca
Hi-Hat Variations.

Variation 1 has the classic disco open/close hi-hat pattern added to it. Variation 2 has the right hand playing three 16th notes at a time instead of just 8th notes. This pushes the beat along even more. Variation 3 features two-handed 16th notes played hand to hand. The snare drum notes are shared between the hands, be careful with your aim when moving from the hi-hat to the snare – try to get both hands to hit in the same spot.

Here’s one of my favourite variations that I used to create a tribal groove for a cover version of a Rolling Stones song. It may inspire you to create your own variation.

Tribal Tom Tom Soca
Tom Tom Version

For this variation I just moved the right hand from the hi-hat to the floor tom and left hand played the snare drum part first on tom 2 and then on tom 1. Don’t play the floor tom too loud, the bass drum and Tom 1 and Tom 2 need to be the stars of this groove.

I hope you enjoy playing the Soca as much as I do. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, let us know on the contact us page.


Fill Of The Week #6

It’s fill of the week time! Here’s number 6:

This is a cool 16th note fill incorporating flams and the bass drum. When I’m playing flams in a 16th note fill, I like to play the bass drum just before the flam. This gives me plenty of time to set up my flams so I can make them sound big while keeping the 16th note flow going.

Learn The Fill

To learn this fill, we can break it down into smaller steps. Step 1 is to get the Right hand moving correctly. Our Right hand is playing 8th notes between the snare and the toms. The left hand and the bass drum will fill in the 16th notes between these 8ths. Here’s the Right hand pattern:

Right hand part from fill of the week 6
Step 1 – The Right hand

Our next step is to add in the Left hand. This will create the flams on beat 1, the “&” of 2 and beat 4 and, fill in 16th notes on the “&” of 1, “e” of 3″ and “ah” of 4. I’ve included the counting on this one to help you out.

Right and left hand part for fill of the week 7.
Step 2 – Adding the Left hand

Step 2 actually sounds quite good as a fill on it’s own, try it out with some of your favourite grooves. We’re going to take one more step which is to add the bass drum in the spaces. Here’s the whole thing:

Fill of the week 6 - complete with bass drum
Step 3 – The bass drum

Practice this slowly at first at 40 – 50 bpm. You may want to build it up a note at a time. Start with the first 4 notes and then add the next one, and then the next one and so on. If you can play the first 6 notes you have most of the fill already because the next 6 notes are just the same thing repeated and beat four is just the first four notes played on a different drum.

Spotting repeated patterns in fills can help you learn them faster. The phrasing of this fill is 6-6-4. This is a very common pattern employed in 16th note fills. Here’s the fill with the 6 6 4 groupings pointed out:

fill of the week 6 - 664 groupings
Can you see the 6-6-4 pattern now?

Let’s change it up

A simple way to change this fill is by removing some of the bass drums. Here’s the fill with the bass drums only after the flams:

Fill of the week 6 with bass drum after flams only
Bass drum only after flams

Here’s the fill with the bass drum only before the flams:

fill of the week 6 with bass drum only before flams
Bass drum only before flams

Another simple variation is to play on the move the non-flammed notes to different toms – this still gives you the impact of the flam on the snare.

Tom variation
Moving the hands around a little differently

But of course, you can also move the flams around as well:

Tom variation
Move it ALL around

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #6 – play around with it some more and create your own variations.

If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson then use the contact us page to let us know & we’ll arrange it for you.


Groove Of The Week #6

It’s time to get funky! Here’s Groove of the Week #6:

I first remember hearing this kind of funky, syncopated two bar pattern in the chorus of the Billy Joel song Easy Money from the Innocent Man Album. I instantly fell in love with the groove and it became one of my favourite songs to drum to. You’ll also hear this kind of pattern throughout funk music; Cold Sweat by James Brown is another great example of this kind of beat.

Similar to Groove of the week #5, this is a two bar pattern and presents the same challenges. You need to be able to perform the two bar pattern consistently and you need to be able to add drum fills to it.

To work on adding drum fills, use a 4 bar pattern like this:

Fill goes on the 4th bar

Try the groove with a variety of fills – such as the ones suggested in groove of the week #5, any of our fill of the week suggestions or the fills below. The fills for groove of the week 5 all started on the beat, all of these fills start and the “&”. You want to be comfortable starting fills both on and off the beat.

Practice your fills!

Once you are comfortable playing groove #6 and adding fills to it, try keeping the snare drum pattern the same, but changing the 8th note bass drums. Here’s some examples:

Change it up!

Another way to extend your practice with this groove (and any 2 bar pattern) is to reverse the order of the bars – try these:

Hit Reverse!

The last 2 examples of the reversed groove may prove tricky as there is no bass drum on beat one of the first bar. This might throw you off, but it is something you want to be able to do. When playing beats with no bass drum on beat one it is common to play the bass drum on beat one of the first bar when you start the groove and after drum fills. Here’s an example using the 4th pattern from above:

8 bars of fun!

Have fun with groove of the week 6! If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #5

Here’s fill of the week #5:

This fill has a lot of interplay between the hands and the bass drum, I hope you’ve been working on your co-ordination. Let’s break this fill down into simple steps.

The first step is to get the Right hand movement correct. The Right hand plays the biggest role in this fill and everything else moves around it. Here’s the Right hand on it’s own:

Step 1 – The Right Hand

If you have worked on Fill Of Week #4, then you’ll notice that the right hand is playing the same pattern as that fill. Now we’re playing the pattern between snare drum and floor tom instead of snare drum and bass drum.

Our next step is to add in the bass drum to get the interplay between the right hand and the bass drum correct.

Right hand and Bass Drum part from fill of the week 5.
Step 2 – Add The Bass Drum

Make sure your snare and bass drum notes are evenly spaced – we don’t want any unintentionally swung notes. Work on it slowly with a metronome.

Finally – add the left hand to create the flams on the snare and play the final floor tom note.

Fill of the week 5 complete
Step 3 – Add the Left Hand

Now you’ve got the fill happening, you can try some simple things to vary it. For example, play your flams across 2 surfaces so they become flat flams instead:

fill of the week variation 1. fat flams between snare and floor tom.
Flat Flams played on snare and floor tom

To rock it up even more, play flat flams between snare and crash:

fill of the week variation 2. flams between snare and crash,
Flat Flams played on snare and crash

Alternatively, play the flams on the snare drum and move the other notes around the kit:

fill of the week variation 3. Tom tom notes moved around.
Tom Tom notes moved around the kit

Of course, you could always try a combination of these things:

fill of the week variation 4. flams between snare and crash, tom tom notes moved around.
Flat Flams on snare and crash, Tom Tom notes moved around the kit.

Have fun with fill of the week #5!

If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lessons, contact us through the contact us page.

Groove Of The Week #5

It’s time to get groovy! This week’s groove of the week is a simple 2-bar pattern. Here’s groove of the week #5:

I’ve always loved this beat. Skipping the bass drum on beat 1 of the second bar gives this groove a very upbeat feel and adds a certain swagger to it. A song that really shows off that swagger is the rock classic Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf. This groove drives the verses of that song and gives it the rebellious feel needed.

Grooves that are 2 bars in length, such as this one, present their own challenges when playing them. The first challenge is being able to play the whole pattern continuously without changing it. I find that singing the pattern in my head while playing helps me to keep it correct. Record yourself playing the groove for an extended period of time; can you play it for 3 minutes without changing the pattern at all?

The second challenge is adding in drum fills. Normally with 2 bar patterns, drum fills will occur on the second bar. You want to practice adding drum fills to the second bar and then resuming the beat from the first bar. Here’s how I practice adding fills into this beat:

Groove of the week 5 played as a four bar pattern with fills added on the fourth bar.
Add some fills to spice things up!

Obviously, you can change the fills to suit your musical needs, make sure you’re able to play fills starting on any beat of that last bar. For suggestions on fills, head over to our fill of the week section.

If you’re in Singapore, and you’d like a free trial drum lessons, contact us via the contact us page and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Fill Of The Week #4

This week’s fill is a classic. If you haven’t heard this somewhere I’ll be surprised! Here’s fill of the week #4:

Sounds pretty simple! It is! But it’s one of the most powerful and effective fills you’ll come across. Drummers sometimes get lost in playing busy; hitting as many things as they can, as fast as they can. Often all a song needs is a simple fill to move it along. This fill is a very effective rock music fill really makes a statement.

Where have you heard it? AC/DC’s Highway to hell and Free’s All Right Now spring to mind. But there are countless other rock songs that use this fill. It’s one you need to know.

The main thing to focus on is the flams; Make all your flams sound the same. Focus on getting consistent spacing between the grace note and the main note of the flam. Get that happening and you’ll be ready to rock.

Simple variations of this fill include splitting the hands up across different surfaces or playing the flams on different drums. Here’s 3 simple variations:

Fill of the week 4, flams played on snare, tom 1 and floor tom.
Flams On Different Drum
Fill of the week 4, hands split between snare drum and floor tom.
Left Hand On Snare, Right Hand on Floor Tom
Fill of the week 4, hands split between snare drum and crash.
Left Hand On Snare, Right Hand on Crash

While those variations on fill of the week #4 are very useful, we can create more fills by using displacement. The idea of displacement is to move all the notes in your fill a certain note value (an eighth, a quarter, a sixteenth) to the left or right. The notes on the end that get kicked out of the bar, return at the start or end of the bar depending on which direction you displaced your fill.

Here I’m going to displace fill of the week #4 one eighth note to the right. So beat 1 on the original fill will move to the “&” of 1. The note originally on the “&” of 1 moves to beat 2 and so on and so forth. The note on the “&” of four, prior to displacement, will become the new beat 1. Here’s displacement #1:

Fill of the week #4 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Displacement 1: Original fill displaced 1 8th note to the right.

We can keep displacing the original fill by 1 8th note another 6 times to create 7 new fills in total. Here are the other 6 displacements:

Fill of the week #4 displaced by 2 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 2: Displacement 1 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 3 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 3: Displacement 2 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 4 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 4: Displacement 3 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 5 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 5: Displacement 4 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 6 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 6: Displacement 5 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.
Fill of the week #4 displaced by 7 8th notes to the right.
Displacement 7: Displacement 6 displaced by 1 8th note to the right.

If we displaced the last fill one more time, we would end up back at our original fill.

All 7 of these variations are very useful, and of course, you can apply the earlier ideas – flams on different drums & splitting the hands between surfaces – to create more fills. You may have even heard these fills in songs. Displacement number 6 is the basis for the main drum fill in “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n’ Roses for example.

If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, get in touch with us on the Contact Us Page.

Groove Of The Week #4

It’s groove of the week time! Here’s groove of the week #4:

Here’s one of those grooves that occurs in more songs than you’d think. Having the bass drum on the “ah” of 2 followed by a bass drum on the “&” of three is extremely common. Check out “How To Save A Life ” by The Fray, “Only Wanna Be With You” by Hootie & The Blowfish, or “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by The Script to hear examples of this bass drum pattern.

As with Groove Of The Week #3, the challenge for beginners is to get the bass drum landing accurately on the 16th notes in between the hi-hats. As always, work with a metronome, go slow (50-60bpm), count, & focus on keeping your hi-hat steady. Here’s the groove with the counting added to help you out!

Groove 4 with counting added
Don’t Forget To Count!

The open hi-hat on the “&” of four may also need attention. Open hi-hats can sound sloppy very easily, focus on not opening the hi-hat until the & of four and closing it perfectly in sync with the bass drum on beat 1.

For more advanced players, try changing the hi-hat pattern to 2-handed 16th notes, this will force you to work on your co-ordination between your left hand and right foot. Are the bass drums on the “ah” of 1 and 2 really landing perfectly in time with the hi-hat? Record it and find out… if you’re having problems, slow it down and really focus on the left hand & right foot accuracy. Be precise with you note placement.

Groove Of The Week 4 with 2 handed 16th notes on the hi-hat
Keep Counting, Be Precise!

If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, you can arrange one on our contact us page.