Fill Of The Week #31

Here’s a fill from the great Ginger Baker.

This fill is Ginger Baker’s fill from the Cream song “White Room.” He uses variations of this fill throughout the verses of the song. When I first learnt this song I was in a rush, I had over 100 songs to learn in a short space of time and I didn’t pay attention to the fills on the verses; I just noted that I needed to fill every fourth bar on the verses. I paid more attention to the 5/4 introduction and the arrangement of the song.

So off I went and played this song with my band and, for quite a while, I played it my way. Then one night I recorded my band playing the song and I realized that my fills weren’t quite working so I went back and really listened and picked up this fill. Once I brought this fill (and the 16th note triplet fill that ends each verse) into the song, the song just sounded right.

Repeating a fill throughout a song creates a rhythmic motif for the song. Another song which does something similar is “November Rain” by Guns n’ Roses. Matt Sorum plays variations of one fill throughout the whole song – he plays the same fill around 50 times! You know what song you’re listening to just from hearing the fill. Maroon 5’s “She will be loved” also repeats one fill throughout the song.

Learn The Fill

Let’s start learning this fill by looking at the basic rhythm:

This fill is basic
The Basic Fill

This looks like a fairly simple rhythm, however, Ginger Baker tended to swing his 16th notes most of the time. So, just like the 16th notes on Groove Of The Week #31, we need to think of this rhythm more like this:

Swing your basic fill
Swing it!

It’s not quite as easy to read or write the second version, which is why we tend to write it the first way and just give a directive to swing the 16th notes. I would encourage listening to the original song to hear how Ginger swung this fill and try and copy his feel.

The next step is to orchestrate the fill around the kit. The orchestration Ginger chose is fairly simple but sounds great.

Orchestrate and swing it!
Swing it round the toms

The other thing to note is that Ginger added the bass drum on beats 3 and 4. This adds more weight to the fill and keeps the time flow going.

adding the bass drum
Drop the boom

In the song Ginger is playing the groove right up until the moment the fill starts, so let’s just add that back in.

The full fill
The full fill

You’ll also note from my video that I don’t hit a crash after each fill – only on the final one. This fill is played during the verse of the song; Ginger Baker doesn’t want to overpower the singer with a crash after the fill, so he returns straight back to the hi-hat. I’d suggest practicing your fills both ways: hitting a crash after them and skipping the crash and going direct to the hi-hats.

Taking It Further

The obvious way to take this fill further would be re-orchestrate it around the kit. I’ll leave you to imagine ways to do that. Instead, let’s focus on playing the bass drum on the beat under the fill.

A lot of beginner drummers learn to play all sorts of fills around the kit with their hands but never add the bass drum underneath. The bass drum j helps to ground the fill, add more weight to it, and keep the time flowing so the listener and band don’t lose track of the beat during the fill. A drummer that employs this approach a lot is Tre Cool from Green Day.

Try these fills to get started, all fills are played using single strokes – RLRLRLRL etc…

Adding the bass drum to simple fills
Boom Boom Boom Boom

Our first three fills all start on beat 3. The first fill is played just on the snare to get you started. The second fill moves groups of the two around the kit and the third fill is a 3-3-2 fill.

The last three fills are whole bar fills. The first fill just moves groups of 4 around the kit, the second fill is a 6-6-4 fill, the final fill is a 3,3,3,4,3 fill.

When playing the fills pay attention to your accuracy, make sure your bass drum is really together with whichever drum is being hit at the same time. Work with a metronome and focus on keeping the bass drum playing a rock solid pulse together with the beep of your metronome.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #31. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on our contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #30

It’s time for fill of the week #30.

I hope you practiced our Fill Of The Week #5 because this fill is a slightly evolved version of that one. Let’s get to learning.

Learn The Fill

The basis of this fill is alternating singles between the right hand and the bass drum. Let’s look at the basic hand and foot pattern:

Basic pattern.
Hand, Foot, Hand, Foot, Repeat…

Note that we change the pattern on beat four to bring the fill to a conclusion. Practice this pattern carefully with a metronome. Focus on the spacing between the notes, keep them evenly spaced.

The next step for this fill is to add in the hi-hat barks. I play this fill with my left hand on the hi-hat and my right on the snare.

add the hi-hat barks
Woof, Woof, Woof…

Focus on closing the hi-hat together with the next bass drum. Play this pattern very slowly until you can play it cleanly every time.

The final step is to orchestrate the right hands around the drums. Here’s the the full fill as I played it:

the full fill
The full fill

Take It Further

If you check fill of the week #5 you’ll find other ways to orchestrate this fill around the kit, so this time, let’s look at changing the ending of this fill. This will give you more options when playing the fill and help you to develop flow around the kit.

3 fill variations
Change it up

Our first fill variation just changes beat four to 16th notes on the snare. I would encourage you to explore all variations of those last four notes as well.

The second variation has us changing the fill from the “&” of 3. It keeps the spirit of the original fill going by incorporating the bass drum with the hands.

The third variation changes things up from beat 3. As with the previous variation it keeps the spirit of the original fill by including the bass drum.

Here’s one variation of the whole fill that you may find useful. I keep the left hand on the snare for this and let the right hand play all the hi-hats.

hi hat variation
Play those hats

We hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #30. If you’re in Singapore and would like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message via our contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #29

Eating fish regularly is good for your health. Playing buckets of fish on your drums is good for your drumming health. Here’s a another fill featuring the classic “bucket of fish” lick.

We last saw the “Bucket of fish” lick in Fill Of The Week #17. I call this fill “The loud bucket of fish” as we’re ending each bucket with a crash. Let’s get to it.

Learn The Fill

Let’s start this fill by looking at the basic rhythm that we’ll be playing.

Basic Rhythm
Just the basics

Play this basic rhythm with a metronome first and make sure you’re playing cleanly and accurately before moving on.

Our next step is to add in the bass drum and the crashes. Let’s look at that.

add in the crashes and bass drum
Bring the noise

Pay attention to your accuracy here, make sure the crashes and bass drum really happen together. To hear it clearly, play the crashes on a closed hi-hat first. The shorter, drier sound of the hi-hat will help you to hear if you are really hitting together with the bass drum.

The final step of the fill is to add in the classic bucket of fish orchestration – Snare, High Tom, Floor Tom, Bass drum. Let’s do it.

The full fill
Three buckets of fish to go.

Take It Further

This is a great sounding fill, but with all the crashes it is rather loud. So our first variation with be the quieter version:

the quiet bucket of fish
The quiet bucket of fish

Now that our hands are not playing with the bass drum, we can add a note in between the bass drums to create a slightly busier fill.

the complex bucket of fish
The more complex bucket of fish

Obviously you can orchestrate the additional notes anyway you like, if you want to bring the crashes back play the new notes between the snare drum and crash.

If you’d like a smoother fill, you can add in extra 16th note triplets instead of a 16th note.

the smooth bucket of fish
The smooth bucket of fish

I hope you’ve enjoyed you buckets of fish with fill of the week #29. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #28

I call this fill “How to lose a band in 24 notes or less.” This is a fun fill to play but certainly isn’t applicable to every musical situation – use with extreme caution.

We’ve done a few fills featuring 5 note groups before, the most recent one being fill of the week #26. Those previous fills have played the 5 note grouping over 16th notes; this week’s fill plays the 5 note grouping over 16th note triplets (sextuplets).

Learn The Fill

The first step in learning this fill is to be comfortable with the 5 note grouping that we are playing.

5 notes
Five notes of fun

Our grouping this time around is Left-Right-Left-Right-Kick. Get comfortable playing this grouping repeatedly in a smooth manner. Keep all the notes nice and evenly spaced. Don’t worry about playing it over a subdivision, just count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc.

Once you can play the group smoothly, then we can put it over our desired subdivision – 16th note triplets.

5 notes over sextuplet
Go slow and count

Play this against a metronome. Go very slowly (30 – 40 bpm) and count the 16th note triplets out loud. Use a metronome that can count 16th note triplets clearly – I recommend “Tempoperfect” from NCH software. Make note of where each group of 5 starts in the bar, this will help you to check in with the metronome while playing the fill. You’ll know that your left hand should be hitting the snare on beat 1, the “ta” of the “&” of 1, the “ti” of the “&” of 2, the “&” of 3 and the “ta” of 4.

Once you can play the 5 note group over 16th note triplets, then you can look at orchestrating it around the kit. I decided to orchestrate it in two ways; first, between the snare, toms and bass drum and then between the snare, hi-hat, stack and bass drum. I alternate between these two orchestrations to create the fill. If you don’t have a stack cymbal you can use any effects cymbal or the bell of the ride cymbal. Here’s the full fill:

the full fill
The full fill

Take It Further

The easiest way to take this further is to take what we already have and reuse it. The first variation just uses the snare, tom, kick orchestration from our original fill.

just the toms
Just The Toms

The second variation uses the snare, hi-hat, stack, kick orchestration from the the original fill.

just the cymbals
Just the Cymbals

Our third variation just alternates the our two orchestrations in a different manner to the first.

re-arranged fill
Remix

I’ll leave you to come up with new orchestrations of the 5 note groupings. I would also to encourage to explore the Right-Left-Right-Left-Kick grouping. Follow the same steps – learn to play it smoothly, then play it over the subdivision, finally, orchestrate it around the kit.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this fill of the week. It’s not a fill that is applicable to all musical situations and should be used carefully. However, working through fills such as this will help improve your timing and rhythmic ability.

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

Fill Of The Week #27

It’s fill of the week time, let’s get diddlin’.

This fill of the week uses one of my favourite rudiments: the Paradiddle-diddle. Applying rudiments around the kit can help you to create things that you can’t play with just single strokes or to play your ideas in an easier, more relaxed manner. Let’s check out the paradiddle-diddle in this fill.

Learn The Fill

We’ll start with the sticking pattern for this fill.

The basic sticking
Did you spot the paradiddle-diddles?

This fill begins with a left paradiddle-diddle on beat one, follow it up with another left paradiddle-diddle on the “&” of two and then finish it off with a left paradiddle starting on beat 4.

The best way to practice this pattern is as part of a 2-bar pattern, like this :

2 bar paradiddle diddle pattern
Paradiddle-diddle Paradiddle-diddle Paradiddle

This pattern automatically switches from the left side to the right side and gets you practicing your paradiddle-diddles on both sides.

Once you have the pattern down, all that remains is to orchestrate it around the kit.

I decided to split the single strokes (LR) between the hi-hat and stack cymbal. If you don’t have a stack you can hit both hands on the hi-hat or put the right hand on another effects cymbal or on the ride cymbal. Then it’s simply putting the left double stroke on the snare and the right double stroke on the floor tom. Here’s the full fill:

The full fill
Diddles of awesome

As an experiment, I suggest you try playing this fill with just single strokes. It’s possible, but you’ll realize how much extra movement you need to play the fill. Using the paradiddle-diddle and paradiddle is much more efficient.

Taking It Further

To take this fill further simply re-orchestrate the fill around the kit. Here’s three examples:

3 fill variations
I like to move it, move it….

Of course, you can also try this with the Right paradiddle-diddle (RLRRLL) & paradiddle (RLRR). I’ll let you experiment with that version.

Here’s one more idea, we can turn this into an over the bar line fill by turning the paradiddle on beat 4 into a paradiddle-diddle. This extends the fill over the bar line by playing the first two 16th notes of the next bar. Add a bass drum on the “&” of 1 and then crash with the snare on beat 2 and you have an over the bar line fill. Check it out:

over the barline fill
Somewhere, over the bar line….

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #27. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #26

It’s fill of the week time, let’s get to it.

This week’s fill is another 5 note grouping fill. Once you find something you like with drums, it’s always good to explore how many ways you can play it. This helps to increase your drum kit vocabulary a lot. Our last 5 note grouping fill was fill of the week #23 which was a KRLRL grouping, let’s have a look how this one differs & gives us a different take on the 5 note grouping.

Learn The Fill

As mentioned this fill is a 5 note group played over 16th notes. Let’s check out those five notes.

the five notes
Five notes of fun

To learn this fill, start by playing this five note group continuously, move smoothly from one group to the next. Count as you go – 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 etc.

If we string 3 groups of 5 together, we get 15 notes. Let’s try that.

3 groups of 5
5 x 3 = I need to use my toes to count that high

Once you have that, we just need to put an extra note on the end to finish the bar. I decided to just continue the pattern and put a snare/floor tom combination on the last note. However, at faster speeds that may cause trouble with getting to a crash or back to the hi-hat/ride on beat 1. You may want to experiment with the last note or possibly leave it out all together as we did in the exercise above.

the full fill
The full fill

Take It Further

The easy way to take this further is just to hit different surfaces with your hands. I think it would be more fun to try out different permutations of the 5 note groupings We’ll stick with the formula of having 2 notes on the hands and 3 notes on the bass drum.

Let’s look at our four permutations:

variation 1
Bass, Hands, Bass, Bass, Hands.
variation 2
Hands, Bass, Bass, Hands, Bass
variation 3
Bass, Bass, Hands, Bass, Hands
variation 4
Bass, Hands, Bass, Hands, Bass

I’ve left the last 16th note off of all these permutations. You can choose to add something on the end or finish the fill on the “&” of 4.

Working through all of these permutations will increase your 5-note group vocabulary and give you more options for playing these as fills.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #26. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message via our contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #25

It’s time for fill of the week #25. Let’s hit it.

This fill features flams, bass drums and one of my favourite stickings – RLLRLLRL. Often when I use the RLLRLLRL sticking in a 16th note fill, I put it at the start or end of fill – RLLRLLRLRLRLRLRL or RLRLRLRLRLLRLLRL. This week I decided to experiment and see what would happen if I stuck it in the middle of the fill. Let’s see how it turned out.

Learn The Fill

Let’s build this fill up chunk by chunk. The first chunk will be beat one. On beat one we have a pattern I use a lot – Flam, Bass, Right, Left. I use this in a lot of fills, I like the sound of it and how easily it can be moved around the kit.

The first chunk
The first chunk is the deepest.

The next chunk will be the RLLRLLRL sticking pattern. You may want to practice this sticking pattern separately at first. Focus on getting it smooth and being able to accent the Right hand.

Let’s add the next chunk to our fill.

the first and second chunks
Getting chunky with it.

When playing the second chunk, focus on accenting the right hand on Tom 1, Tom 2 and the Snare drum. They need to stand out to make the fill work.

The final chunk is Right, Bass, Flam. Accent the right hand on the floor tom to add the fill melody. Let’s add it in.

The full fill.
It’s the final chunk-down

As with any fill, take it slowly at first until you get used to the pattern and then speed it up.

Taking It Further

The benefit of learning fill chunk by chunk is that you can simply replace a chunk and change the fill. Let’s start by replacing the last chunk.

Changing the last chunk
Change your chunks

The first two of our variations give a smoother ending to the fill. The third ending is similar to our original fill, but the additional bass drum again makes the transition back to the groove a little smoother. The final variation just adds extra energy with 16th note triplets.

Now lets look at replacting the first chunk of our fill – the first four 16th notes.

Changing the first chunk.
Chunk up your life

Our first variation has the first beat mirroring the fourth beat, this lends a nice symmetry to the fill. The second and the third variations are just simple 16th note variations. The final variation is 8th note flat flams between snare and floor tom – I also altered the last chunk to copy the flat flams from the first chunk.

I’m not going to vary the middle chunk of this fill as it’s the main feature of the fill. However, I will suggest that you play with re-orchestrating the RLLRLLRL around the kit yourself.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #25. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message via our contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #24

Let’s get, let’s get, let’s get, let’s get filling with fill of the week #24.

Fill of the week #24 is what I call a starting the old car fill; The first half of the fill sounds like you’re try to get the car started, and then finally at the end of the fill you get car going. Let’s motor on and learn the fill.

Learn The Fill

This fill comes in two halves. The first half is the stutter effect – trying to get the old car started. This is created by using groups of 3 sixteenth notes: Snare, Bass, Rest. The hi-hat is just playing 8th notes over the top to help the fill flow. Let’s look at the first five notes of the fill.

starting to stutter
The first five notes

If you haven’t played this kind of idea before, take this slowly and count. Play at 40bpm and count every note. The next 5 notes are just a repeat of the first 5, except we start it on the “&” of 2

The stutter
Double the fun!

Again, take this slow and play it until it’s easy. Count every note and work with a metronome.

Our final step in putting this fill together is to add the last 6 notes. The fill at the end is fairly simple 16th note fill starting on the “&” of 3. We’re going to have to change the above pattern just a little, the right hand will play the High Tom on the “&” of 3 instead of the Hi-Hat. Here’s the full fill:

The full fill
I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna play this fill.

Taking It Further

A simple way to alter this fill, is to flam the snare notes at the start. Your timing will need to be secure before you try this as you won’t have the hi-hat connecting everything together for you.

flam the snare
Flam, Flam, Flam, Flam

Obviously, with this option you can split the hands up between Floor Tom & Snare or between Snare & Crash to create a different effect.

The easiest way to alter this fill is to just change what happens from the “&” of 3 onwards.

change it up - 4 variations
Change it up

The first variation is very simple, but also one of my favorites to play – just 16th note snare drums starting on beat 4. This allows us to retain the hi-hat on the “&” of 3.

The second and third variations just alter the configuration of the last 6 notes from the original fill – keep the sticking the same: RLRLRL.

The final variation is similar to the first one, but uses 16th note triplets starting from beat 4 instead of 16th notes. This just starts our car a little faster.

Have a play around with this fill and see how many variations you can come up with.

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 #23

It’s time to smack that stack with fill of the week #23. Let’s get to stack smackin’.

Did you spot the 5 note grouping at work during fill of the week #23? We last saw 5 note groupings in fill of the week #14 when we were going over the bar line with them. This time, however, we’ll stay within the bar lines to create a usable stack smackin’ fill.

Learn The Fill

Let’s start of by looking at the 5 note grouping we’ll be using for this fill.

basic five note grouping
Five Notes Of Fun

Our five note group is 1 note on the bass drum and then four notes with the hands starting with the right hand. Practice playing this 5 note grouping smoothly. Repeat it over and over again with no gaps between the groupings.

If we string three groups of five notes together we get 15 notes. That fits nicely into a bar of 16th notes like this:

Three five note groupings
3 x 5 = I don’t have enough fingers to count that!

To end the fill in a nice smooth manner, we need to add one more 16th note. I opted for an additional left hand on the snare. This gives the right hand plenty of time to find a crash to hit on beat one. You could also try for an additional bass drum if you prefer.

full fill played on the snare.
5 + 5 + 6 = awesome fill!

Practice this fill between the snare and bass until you have it smooth. It’s easier to hear any unevenness playing it just between the bass and snare drum.

The final step is to move the right hand to the stack cymbal. If you don’t have a stack cymbal you can use the hi-hats, a splash, or a china instead. Here’s the full fill:

The full fill
The full orchestration

Taking It Further

Once you have the basic pattern happening you can orchestrate it around the kit anyway you like. I liked the idea of splitting the hands between a cymbal and the snare. Here’s some more ideas in that vein.

Change it up!

The first of our variations adds a tom-tom into the five note groupings and changes the final note to another bass drum.

The 2nd variation is a softer version of the original fill; playing the fill between the bass, hi-hat and rim click instead.

The final variation moves the right hand to the tom-toms and has the left hand play the hi-hat – except for the last left on the snare drum. Again the final note is played on the bass drum.

There are many other ways you can move this five note grouping around the kit. Experiment and come up with ideas you like the sound of.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #23. For drum lessons in Singapore, send us a message on the contact us page and we’ll arrange a free trial lesson with you.

Fill Of The Week #22

SEVEN-FIVE-SIX – those are the magic numbers you need play fill of the week #22. Let’s see those numbers in action.

Fill of the week #22 starts with a group of seven 16th notes then cuts a couple of notes off to make a group of five 16th notes and then repeats the first six notes as 16th note triplets. I think this formula creates quite a musical fill. Let’s learn the fill and then look at how we can apply the formula to create further fills.

Learn The Fill

The main ingredient in this fill is the initial seven note group. We’ve previously looked at applying seven note groupings of 16th notes. Check out fill of the week #19 to get more ideas on what you can do with seven note groupings.

Here’s our 7 note grouping for this fill:

Basic 7 note group
The basis for our fill of the week.

This is a simple group of 7 notes, practice it until you can play it smoothly.

For our 5 note grouping we’re going to cut off the first two notes of the 7 note grouping.

5 note grouping
Five note of fun

So now let’s put those two groups together.

7 + 5 note grouping
7 + 5 = I HATE MATH!

Again, practice playing these 12 notes nice and smoothly. Count out loud as you do it. Take it slow to start with. Make the transition between the two groups seamless.

For the last beat in the bar we’re going to repeat the first six notes of the 7-note group. However, we need to shift in to the 16th note triplet subdivision to fit them in. Here’s the full fill:

The full fill
7+5+6 = Awesome Fill.

If you are not comfortable moving from 16th notes to 16th note triplets, then check out fill of the week #13 where I give some tips for moving between the two subdivisions.

Taking It Further

Now we have the formula for the fill, we can take any group of the 7 notes and create a new fill. Try these 3 variations.

fill variations
Simple variations

All these variations use the same basic sticking as our original fill. I find these fill works best with the bass drum as the last note of the group, but you can experiment with different with different bass drum placements.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #22. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on the contact us page.