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.

Groove Of The Week #31

This week’s groove is from the late, great, Ginger Baker.

Groove of the week #31 is based on the groove that Ginger Baker played on “Born Under A Bad Sign” by Cream. The song was a cover of Albert King’s original recorded just a year earlier; Ginger’s groove really makes the cover stand out from the original.

The groove features some tricky 4-way co-ordination with the hi-hat playing on the off beats and 16th notes on the bass drum. In addition, in order to get Ginger’s feel all the 16th notes need to be swung. Ginger Baker had a very unique voice behind the drums and imitating his style is not easily done.

Learn The Groove

Let’s take out the complication of the pedalled hi-hat for now and focus on the main meat of the groove. Note that I play the ride cymbal bell with the tip of my stick for this groove – that’s how it sounds to me on the original Cream recording of this song.

The basic pattern

The groove is written straight but it’s played with swung 16th notes. This a style that Ginger Baker brought to a lot of his playing. That means that you need to imagine that all the 16th note bass and snare notes are on a 16th note triplet grid and are played with a shuffle feel. If we wrote it out, it would look something like this:

Swing it baby!

Writing it this way makes it look extremely busy and complicated, which is why we prefer to write it as regular 16th notes and just give a directive to swing the 16th notes. The best way to get the correct feel is to play along with the original song and try and copy Ginger’s feel.

The final cherry on top of this groove is the off beat pedalled hi-hat. If you’re not already comfortable playing the off-beats with your hi-hat foot then I suggest you practice it with some simple grooves first and then gradually introduce 16th note bass drums into the mix. Here’s the full final groove.

Groovin’ under a bad sign

Take It Further

If you have a listen to the song this groove is from – “Born Under a Bad Sign” by Cream – you’ll hear that Ginger Baker doesn’t just sit on this groove, his bass drum pattern changes very slightly throughout the song depending on how he wanted it to feel. Here’s a couple of those variations that he uses throughout the song. Remember to swing all of those 16th notes!

Change it up

I suggest you have a listen to the original version of this song by Albert King and then listen to how Ginger Baker really changed up the groove to create this unique version. Also listen for how that bass drum changes throughout the song to change the feel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this groove of the week in tribute to the great Ginger Baker. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on the 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.

Groove Of The Week #30

It’s time to evolve. It’s time for Groove Of The Week #30.

Groove of the week #30 is the evolved version of Groove of the week #29. After recording Groove of the week #29, I sat around and played with the groove some more, and I thought, what would happen if I played the hi-hats starting with the left hand? Well, it presented a new challenge, just getting the groove working again took a few minutes.

Once I had the groove working I thought, what can I do differently now? It occurred to me that the Right hand was now playing the offbeats, so I started by accenting it on the hi-hat and then moving the accents to different surfaces. Finally, I settled on either the cowbell or the stack cymbal as my favourite surface, but I couldn’t decide, so I created this 2 bar groove to accommodate them both.

Learn The Groove

The first step in learning this groove is to go and learn Groove of the week #29. Once you’ve done that, let’s take groove of the week #29 and change the hands to LRLRLR instead of RLRLRL:

Groove #29 remix
Groove Of The Week #29 remix

Take your time getting this groove; if you’ve never played grooves starting with your left hand, this will feel very strange. Take it as slow as you need. It may take you some time to get this happening. Note that you may need to move your right hand out of the way slightly when the left hand crosses under to play the snare.

Once you are comfortable playing groove of the week #29 left handed, then we extend the groove and change it to get the 2 bar pattern we’ll be using for groove of the week #30

two bar pattern
Basic groove of the week #30

The final step is to move the Right hand around on the “&” of each beat. You can start by accenting the hi-hat on the “&” of each beat. If you don’t have a cowbell or a stack cymbal, try another effects cymbal (splash or china) or the ride cymbal. Here’s the full groove as I played it.

the full groove
The full groove

Taking It Further

As with groove of the week #29, the best way to take this further is to try adding fills. The challenge here is leading the fills with the left hand and being comfortable crashing on beat 1 after the fill with your left hand. All the fills here are played LRLRLR etc…

add some fills
Add some fills

You’ll notice that the second and fourth fill keep the stack cymbal happening on the “&”s to help keep the feel of the groove. .

I hope you’ve enjoyed this groove of the week. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on the 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.

Groove Of The Week #29

This weeks groove is real smooth. Let’s check it out.

Groove of the week #29 uses 16th note triplets (sextuplets) for the hi-hat ostinato. I’ve always loved the sound of 16th note triplets on the hi-hat – they create a very smooth backdrop. Check out “Angel Footsteps” by Jeff Beck or “Flaws” by Bastille to hear the 16th note triplet hi-hat in action.

Get The Groove

The challenges with this groove are keeping the 16th note triplet hi-hats smooth and accurate bass drum placement. Let’s look at the full groove.

the full groove
The Full Groove

The first challenge is to play perfectly smooth single strokes on the hi-hat. We want all of the hi-hats to sound the same. There are no accents on the hi-hat in this groove. To achieve this, keep your hands relaxed and loose & observe your stick heights. If your sticks are matched, you’re addressing the hi-hat in the same manner, and your stick heights are the same, then you should get the same sound from the drum.

I’ve seen people hitting the hi-hats in different spots and expecting to get the same sound. You can’t have the right hand hitting on the top of the hi-hat with the tip of the stick and the left hand hitting the edge with the shoulder of the stick and expect the same sound. It’s not going to happen!

Another problem I see often is the lazy left hand. The right hand produces a good looking stroke but the left hand barely comes an inch away from the hi-hat. Your sticks should be hitting from the same height, they should look the same when you are playing unaccented notes on any surface – cymbal, drum or table top.

Start learning this groove by just practicing the 16th note triplet hi-hat pattern at 40bpm and make it as smooth as possible. Every note the same.

just the hats
The groove starts here

When they are smooth, add in the snare drum on beats 2 & 4. Do not change the sound of the hi-hats when you return to the hi-hats from the snare.

add the snare
Step 2

The final step is to add in the bass drums. I chose this groove because all of the bass drums, except for the first one, coincide with the left hand on the hi-hat. This is often problematic but with determined practice you can get more comfortable with this. Here’s the full groove once more. Notice that I have put in bold the hands that coincide with the bass drum.

Full groove
The Full Groove

Play the groove very slowly – drop to 30bpm if you have to. I find that intently watching my sticks hit the hi-hat helps me to place my bass drum more accurately. Some drummers find that watching their bass drum helps them to time it better. With determined, focused and deliberate practice you’ll have this groove happening in no time & good precision between your bass drum and left hand will become a habit.

Take It Further

With any groove you learn, you need to be able to add fills to it. Let’s look at adding fills to this groove. We’ll stick to the 16th note triplet subdivision to keep those hands flowing. Here’s a couple of ideas for you.

Fill Fill Fill

All of these fills are played with alternating singles – RLRLRL etc. The first two fills start on beat 4, the last two fills start on beat 3. Work on moving smoothly from the groove to the fill and back again. You should be able to do this without interrupting the 16th note triplet flow.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Groove Of The Week #29. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message via our 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

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.

Groove Of The Week #28

Here’s a bit of linear fun with the week’s groove.

The hi-hat firmly takes centre stage in this week’s groove. We’ve got some 32nd notes, some accents and a 6 stroke roll to get through. Let’s take a look at how the hi-hat can bring a groove to life.

Get The Groove

Let’s build this groove up one beat at a time. Here’s the first beat:

the first beat
The first beat is the deepest, baby I know…

If you’re not comfortable with 32nd notes, play this very slowly – 40bpm – against a metronome counting 16th notes. Focus on getting the RRL on “e & ah” accurate and then slot the 32nd note left hand between them. Finally focus on getting the accent on the hi-hat on the “ah”.

Let’s look at beat two:

2nd beat
The second beat around

Beat two has us play a simple “2 &ah” again, focus on rhythmic accuracy and the accent on the “ah” of 2.

Let’s add beat 3:

third beat
Set fire to the third beat

We’re actually resting on beat 3 and playing the “e & ah” of three. Again, use a metronome, take it slow, focus on accuracy and getting the accent on the “&” with the left hand.

It’s time for beat 4:

the 3rd beat
Back & Fourth

The fourth beat is a simple “4 &ah”. Again focus on rhythmic accuracy and getting the accent on the “ah” of 4 with the left hand.

For the 2nd bar of the this groove, beats 1 to 3 remain the same. You can practice this already:

Put it together

For the final beat, I played around a lot with ideas for this but I finally settled on a 6-stroke roll played through 16th note triplets with an accent on the last note. If you have trouble with this roll, look at the “Take It Further” section for additional ideas.

the final beat
Add the final beat

Take It Further

As mentioned previously, I played around with a lot of ideas for the final beat 4, Here’s some of the others.

Groove variations
Change it up!

Our first variation has simple 16th notes on the end with an accent on the last 16th note.

The second variation uses 8th note triplets with accents on both the addition notes.

The third and fourth variations both use 16th note triplets. The third variation has an accent on the “&”. You can play these triplets RLRLRL or RLLRLL. For the fourth variation we accent the last 3 16th note triplets, I’d suggest RLRLRL sticking to play this pattern.

The final variation just copies the 32nd note pattern from beat 1 – except we’re hitting the snare drum on the beat and note the bass drum.

The idea behind this groove was to take a simple, sparse, snare and bass drum pattern and to spice it up with hi-hats. I suggest you pick a sparse pattern you like and try to do the same.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this groove of the week. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message via 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.

Groove Of The Week #27

This is a journey into groove of the week #27…

Have you heard this groove before? It’s more than likely, it’s been used in countless songs. The original groove was sampled from Ashley’s Roachclip by the Soul Searchers and has been used as the basis for many hip-hop songs. You might have heard in Paid In Full by Erik B. & Rakim, Unbelievable by EMF, or maybe on Set Adrift On Memory Bliss by P.M. Dawn or many other songs. Let’s check it out.

Get The Groove

The challenge with this groove is getting the bass drum pattern full aligned with the 16th note hi-hat. Lets look at the basic hi-hat and bass drum pattern.

Hi-hat & bass
Bass & Hi-Hats getting funky

Play this pattern slowly and carefully. Record yourself playing it at 40-50bpm. Can you get the bass drum to line up perfectly with your hi-hats every time? Pay special attention to the bass drum notes that are played together with the left hand, those often cause problems. Go as slow as you need to get it accurate and then gradually speed it up.

Let’s add in the snare drum next.

hats, snare & bass
Give me that back beat

Move smoothly from the hi-hat to the snare drum with your right hand, try not to accent the hi-hat when you move your hand back and forth to & from the snare drum. Keep your hi-hats sounding even.

The last step is to add in the open hi-hats on the “&” of 3 and the “&” of 4. Make sure you close the hi-hat accurately with the snare drum on beat 4 and with the bass drum on beat 1.

The full groove
Super Groovy

Taking It Further

If you listen closely to the original song that the beat was sampled, you’ll that the 2nd open hi-hat actually closes on the “ah” of 4. The check out the original groove that was sampled, click here. I’ve cued it up to the right spot for you.

So if you’d like to play this iconic groove perfectly correctly, then amend it to this:

the corrected groove
I stand corrected

To take our groove further, lets change up the hi-hat pattern.

Our first variation is just straight forward 8th notes on the hi-hat with the right hand. This should be fairly easy to play.

8th note hi-hats
Eighth Notes Of Fun

Our second variation re-introduces the 16th note “ah”. Note that the right hand is playing the hi-hat and snare drum again now. This groove might provide more challenge.

hi-hat variation 2
This is a journey into 16th notes

Our final variation plays 16th notes on the “e” of each beat. Again the right hand moves between hi-hat and snare.

hi-hat variation 2
Set adrift on three 16th notes

Which variation to you prefer? Maybe you’d like to stick to the original? It’s always good to have options to give a groove a slightly different feel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove 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.