Fill Of The Week #9

Here’s fill of the week #9

This is one of the those fills that sounds easy but needs careful practice to play precisely. There is a fill similar to this on Extreme’s Get The Funk Out. During the song it’s played while a horn section plays the same rhythm and it sounds huge. Let’s get into it.

Learn The Fill

Lets take a look at the fill with the counting added.

Count it out!

That’s a lot of “Es” and “AHs” we have to play without any support from the notes in between. The first step is to get comfortable playing all those 16th notes on the “Es” and “AHs”. Try this exercise:

Keep counting!

Work with a metronome at 40bpm and count out loud. I recommend a metronome that can play 16th note subdivisions clearly – such as TempoPerfect by NCH software (it’s free.)

If you can’t play those 16th notes accurately, you can’t play the fill. Keep practicing and counting – it may take a while. Try mixing it up with this exercise to help feel the difference between playing on the 8ths and 16ths:

Still Counting?

If you’ve made it this far, you should be able to play the fill now. While playing the fill, focus on keeping your left hand moving smoothly; it should help get those 16th notes played evenly.

Taking It Further

As the original fill is all played on the snare, the simple way to change it up is to add in some toms:

Add some toms

Another simple way to change this fill up is to add a quarter note bass drum to it. It’ll help to keep the time going and hopefully prevent your bassist from getting lost.

Add some bass drum

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning this fill – take it slow and play with precision. If you’re in Singapore and would like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

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.

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!

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.


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.

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.

Fill Of The Week #3

Here’s fill of the week #3:

That fill might seem pretty busy, it’s only 16th notes, but there is a lot going on. Let’s break it down and approach it one step at a time.

First up, lets look at what the right hand is doing:

Step 1 – Right hand

So the right hand is just playing a simple 8th note pattern between the snare drum and floor tom – snare, snare, floor, snare, floor, snare, floor, floor. Simple!

Now lets add in the left hand

Step 2 – Add the left hand

The left hand is just playing on the “ah” each beat. For the first 3 beats it’s on the high tom and on beat 4 it plays the floor time. This is a nice drum fill on it’s own & doesn’t sound as heavy as the full fill. I use this fill in lighter playing situations. The addition of the bass drum makes it sound heavier and more “Rock.” Let’s add the bass drum.

Step 3 – Add the bass drum

The bass drum just slots nicely in the space left by the hands on the “e” of each beat .

Once you’ve mastered this fill, try and come up with your own variations by moving your hands around the kit differently. Here’s some variations to get you started:

Four Variations

Keep the sticking pattern the same as the original fill when playing these variations (R K R L). Note that the last fill is just the original fill of the week with flams added on the snare drum. Adding flams to a fill can make it seem bigger and heavier again.

If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial lesson, just visit our contact us page to arrange one.

Fill Of The Week #2

Here’s Fill Of The Week #2:

This fill uses 3 note groupings over 16th notes. This is a very common way of phrasing drum fills & this fill is a good introduction to it.

In any bar of 16th notes you can have 4 groups of 3 and 1 group of 4 notes. This fill is phrased as 3,3,3,4,3 to make the movement from the floor tom back to the snare drum easy. Here are some variations on this fill that moves the group of 4 around a bit.

Fill of the week #2 - phrased 4 3 3 3 3
Fill phrased 4, 3, 3, 3, 3
Fill phrased 3, 4, 3, 3, 4
Fill phrased 3, 3, 4, 3, 3
Fill phrased 3, 3, 3, 3, 4

Another good thing to practice when playing this type of 16th note fill is putting the bass drum on quarter notes underneath the fill. This helps to add more weight to the fill, makes it feel more complete and it keeps the pulse going so the listener doesn’t get lost (hopefully). Here’s the original fill with the bass drum added.

Fill with bass drum added on quarter notes

Now try adding the bass drum to the other variations.

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

Fill Of The Week #1

Here’s fill of the week #1:

I’ve always like fill with flams in them. They add a lot of power to a fill and are great for making a statement. The challenge of course is to get your flams sounding consistent across the fill.

Taking it further

As with any fill you learn, you want to experiment with it and make it your own. This fill is an easy one to change up. The first change is to the drums we hit. Here’s two examples of that:

Fill of the week #1 - Variation 1
Variation 1 – Changing The Drums
Variation 2 – Changing More Drums

You can experiment by changing the drums up as much as you like. Move the flams to a tom-tom, see how that sounds. Find the sound that you like.

When I have a 16th note fill with some space in it, I like to experiment with putting the bass drum in the space. Here’s two examples of that:

Fill of the week 1 - variation 3
Variation 3 – A Little Bass Drum Added
Fill of the week 1 - variation 4
Variation 4 – More Bass Drum Added

Adding the bass drum like this makes the fill sound more complex but also more complete. Variation 3 just adds a bass drum to help set up the flams and variation 4 fills in the space before and after the flam to keep the 16th notes flowing.

By changing which drums you hit and being able to add in bass drums you’ll be able to create lots of new fills from this one idea.

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