Fill Of The Week #18

You might need a doctor after fill of the week #18. This drum fill is going to herta a lot!

Fill of the week #18 uses a rudiment known as the Herta which we met back in fill of the week #11. In fill of the week #11 we were using the herta in 16th & 8th note triplet form; in this fill we’re using it in 32nd & 16th note form. If you’ve already studied fill of the week #11 then this fill shouldn’t “herta” so bad! If you’re not sure what a herta is, then maybe go study fill of the week #11 first.

Learn The Fill

The first step in learning this fill is to be comfortable with the 16th note sticking pattern that we’ll be using. This will be RRL repeated 5 times with an extra R on the end. Here it is:

Basic 16th note hand pattern
The basic hand pattern

Make sure you can play and count this basic pattern before moving on. Start at 50 – 60bpm and count out loud while you’re doing it.

Our next step is to form the Hertas by putting a Left handed 32nd note between the double Rights. Don’t alter your counting, just feel the 32nd note slipping in between the 2 right hands. Count out loud and work slowly.

adding the hertas
Add in those 32nd notes, keep counting.

Working slowly with a metronome at around 40bpm will help you to get comfortable with this rhythm. Use a metronome that can play the 16th note subdivisions for you and count out loud with it.

The final step in this fill is to orchestrate it around the kit. I chose to split the first 4 hertas between the high tom and snare drum and the last one between the mid tom and the floor tom. I finish the fill on the Right hand and therefore crash with my Left on beat one. You can try changing that last Right to a Left and then crash with your right if your more comfortable that way. However it’s good to be comfortable crashing with either hand. Here’s the full fill:

the full fill.
Hertas so good, ooh baby…

Taking It Further

This fill is already amazingly awesome, but we can tweak it a little. Here’s some simple re-orchestrations.

4 herta fill variations
You make it herta so good

The first two orchestrations are just moving the hands around. The last two introduce the bass drum into the fun. The third variation is similar to a drum fill John Bonham played on the Led Zeppelin Song “Stairway to heaven” – you can hear it around the 6:20 mark in that song.

I hope that fill of the week #18 didn’t herta too much & that you learnt something from it! If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Groove Of The Week #18

Here’s Groove Of The Week 18:

Bam Bam Bam Bam! It’s time to whack that snare drum and drive the band. I first heard a groove similar to this on a Yamaha DD10 drum machine I had back around 1988/9. I think it was programmed beat number 8 – “R&B.” However, this kind of groove has it’s roots in Motown music but has also been adopted as an aggressive rock groove. Check out “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, “Easy Money” by Billy Joel, “New Sensation” by Inxs or “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by The Four Tops to hear this kind of groove in action. Let’s get into it!

Get The Groove

The main star of this groove is the snare, driving the beat forward relentlessly. Playing the snare drum on every beat creates a very aggressive groove. The first challenge this groove presents is playing the bass drum and snare in unison on some of the beats. You want to be able to play these unison notes without any flams. Let’s look at the bass and snare interaction first:

Snare and Bass drum
Flams not allowed

Once you can play the snare and bass pattern without any flams, add in the closed hi-hat. Again, make sure there are no flams between with three voices.

Snare Bass and Hats
Ban The Flam!

The final things to add to this groove are the open hi-hats every second bar. Open hi-hats often make a groove feel more complete and give you the chance to add a controlled long sound to a beat. Here’s the full groove:

Full Groove
How’s my hat looking?

Take It Further

Here’s a few more variations, keeping the snare drum on all 4 beats but varying the bass drum and the open hi-hats.

3 variations on the groove
Remember: No Flams!

You want to be careful playing fills with this kind of groove. Often I hear drummers just playing a bass drum & crash on beat 1 after a fill, losing the drive of the snare drum. Play fills that allow you to crash on beat 1 together with the snare. Try these:

Adding Fills
Fill It Up!

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #18. If you’d like a free trial drum lesson in Singapore, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #17

Fish anyone? It’s time for a couple of buckets of fish.

Fill of the week 17th features a 16th note triplet lick often known as “Bucket Of Fish.” The 16th note triplet rhythm between the snare, toms & bass drum is often referred to as “bucket of fish” because that’s how it sounds. Let’s go fishing.

Learn The Fill

As always with complex fills, it’s good to get a rhythmic understanding of it first. The easiest way to do this is play the rhythm of the fill on the snare drum and count along with it. Play along to a metronome set to count 8th notes and count out loud.

basic fill rhythm
Count out loud.

The next step for this fill is to add in the bass drum on beats 2, the “&” of 3 and the “& of 4 – replacing some of the snare drum notes from above.

adding in the bass drum
Drop the bass.

The final step will be to orchestrate the hands around the kit and add in the flat flams between the snare and floor tom.

full kit orchestrated.
Can you smell the fish?

Here it is with the bucket of fish counting.

fill with buckets of fish
Fish play drums? Really?

Taking It Further

Two simple ways to change this fill up are to play flams on the snare drum instead of flat flams between snare & floor tom or to play the crash cymbal instead of the floor tom.

basic variations
Some simple variations

If you’d like more buckets of fish you can add one more on the & of 4.

another bucket of fish
More fish anyone?

Note that with this variation you’ll have to hit the crash on beat one of the bar after the fill with your Left hand.

If you really like your fish, then you can try this 2 bar fill:

very fishy fill
More fish than you can handle.

I hope you’ve had your fill of fish for now. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on our contact us page.

Groove Of The Week #17

Here’s groove of the week #17 – it’s time to go off-beat!

Off-beat hi-hats, ghost notes, open hi-hats… there’s a lot going on in this cool sounding groove. Let’s learn it!

Get The Groove

The first step in learning this groove is to be very comfortable playing on the off-beats. So, if you’re not yet comfortable with playing on the “&” then then you need to start here:

off beat hi-hats
Are you counting?

Work with a metronome at 60bpm and count all of those 8th notes out loud and just hit your hi-hat on the “&.” Use a metronome that can clearly mark out the 8th notes for you, I prefer Tempo Perfect by NCH software (spell it all as one word to find it in the app store – “tempoperfect”).

Once we’re comfortable and accurate playing the off-beat hi-hat, we can add in the basic bass and snare drum pattern.

basic off beat groove
That’s one funky groove!

If you’re new to this groove, you may want to stop here and explore it for a while. Get really familiar with it and add some fills etc. It’s a popular groove that’s been used in many songs. Learn to make it feel good.

Once we’re happy with that groove, we can add in the ghost notes on the “ah” of 2 and the “e” of 3. This is probably the most popular of the ghost note placements that we’ll use. These two ghost notes sound great together and have featured in many songs. Try to play them as lightly as you can so they blend in nicely with the hi-hat.

basic groove + ghosts
I ain’t scared of no ghosts!

Our final addition to complete this groove is the open hi-hat on the “&” of three. Note that we’re closing it on beat 4 with the hi-hat pedal. Focus on really getting your hi-hat to close perfectly with the snare drum on beat 4 to make this groove sound clean.

full groove
Off-beat awesomeness

Taking It Further

The easiest way to vary this groove is to play around with the bass drum placement. Here’s a few ideas:

bass drum variations
Fun with the bass drum

The first variation has the bass drum playing on all the downbeats; if you’re try to make people dance, playing the bass drum in this manner will help you do that.

The second variation is just applying a very common bass drum pattern to the groove. The last two variations accent the off-beat idea even more.

I’m a big fan of open hi-hats and they provide another way to change up the sound of a groove. Try these variations:

open hi-hat variations
Let me hear those hi-hats!

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #17. 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 #16

Here’s fill of the week #16:

Not a 16th note or an 8th note in sight on this fill, it’s all triplets; 16th note triplets for excitement and 8th note triplets for drama. Let’s get to work on our triplets.

Learn The Fill

This is a fairly simple fill in terms of co-ordination, but the rhythm may cause problems for more inexperienced drummers. We’re using 16th note triplets and 8th note triplets to create the fill. The first step is to be able to count and play the rhythm of the fill. Here’s the rhythm played on the snare drum with the counting underneath:

basic rhythm
Let me hear you counting

Play this basic version along with a metronome set to count 8th note triplets. It’ll help with your accuracy. If you’re still having trouble, you can try playing the last 6 notes with just your Right hand; that way your right hand will be playing a consistent 8th note triplet throughout the fill.

another way to learn it
Keep your Right hand nice and evenly spaced

You may find it easier just to count the 8th note triplet and feel the 16th note triplets in between. Basically you’re just counting the right hand.

a different way to count
Count the Right hand

Once you are comfortable with the basic rhythm, play the original exercise with the alternating hands over the last 6 notes. Once you have that, you can orchestrate your hands around the kit and play the full fill.

the whole fill
The full fill

Take It Further

The easiest way to change this fill is to re-orchestrate it around the kit. A simple idea is to use a 6 note grouping and repeat it 3 times during the fill. You’ll play it twice fast – over the 16th note triplets – and then once slow – over the 8th note triplets. Here’s a few examples:

6 note grouping examples
6 note groupings

Another simple way to change this fill around would be to change the order of the fill so you start with the 8th note triplets and end on the 16th note triplets. Here’s the first variation from above done that way.

reversed fill
Change it up

These fills work well played against an 8th note feel and an 8th note triplet (12/8) feel. I suggest practicing them against both feels as shown below

practice with a groove.
Groove n Fill

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #16. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the Contact Us page.

Groove Of The Week #16

It’s time to get groovy!

What was that?!?! I heard 8th notes, 16th notes, 16th note triplets, 8th note triplets, open hi-hats, closed hi-hats, snare drums, bass drums… and it all sounded funky. Let’s break down groove of the week #16.

Get The Groove

Groove of the week #16 is a pretty advanced groove. The two main elements that make it advanced are the 8th note triplet on the bass drum going against the 8th note hi-hat at the start of each bar, and, the 16th note triplet hi-hat embellishments at the end of each bar.

The easiest of the two is the 16th note triplet hi-hat. Let’s start there. I play these using a double-stroke on the left hand in between the “&” of 4 and beat 1. There are other ways to stick this pattern, but I like to keep the right hand playing nice solid 8th notes on the hi-hat. Here’s the hi-hat pattern with the counting – watch out for the open hi-hat on beat 3 of the second bar & don’t close it until beat 4.

hi-hat pattern
Just the hats

The second element is the 2 over 3 polyrhythm played between the bass drum and the hi-hat. First let’s learn this rhythm between the hands. It’s often taught using the phrase “Cold Cup Of Tea” as shown below. Play your right hand on the small tom and the left hand on the snare.

cold cup of tea
Cold Cup Of Tea

Work with a metronome playing 8th notes and really focus on keeping your right hand together with the metronome. You may want to try an app like Polynome which can be programmed to play this rhythm.

Once you can play the rhythm with your hands, we can use your left hand to train your bass drum. Add the bass drum to the left hand part like so:

more cold cups of tea
Can somebody heat my tea up?

Once you are comfortable with that, try taking the left hand away, but keep the bass drum going:

even colder tea
Maybe just make me a fresh cup?

The last step is to be able to do it on demand. Let’s move the right hand to the hi-hat and just play the triplet bass drum every other beat.

cold tea on demand
I’ve changed my mind, can I have a coffee instead?

Again, work with an 8th note metronome and really focus on keeping your right hand playing smooth 8th notes.

Once we have these two elements settled, then we can try to put them together to form the full groove.

the full groove
Adding in the cream & sugar

A good example of a song using the “cold cup of tea” triplet bass drum is the chorus of “Figure 8” by Elle Goulding.

Taking It Further

The main things to take away from this groove are the 16th note triplet hi-hats and the “Cold cup of tea” bass drum. Try adding them in to other grooves.

Here’s more ideas for the 16th note triplet hi-hat; note that the right hand plays the snare drum on beat 2 of the second example and on beat 4 of the third example.

16th note triplet hi-hat grooves
Adding some 16th note triplet hi-hat spice

And here’s some more ideas for the 8th note triplet bass drum:

8th note triplet bass drum grooves
More cold tea anyone?

I hope you learn something from groove of the week #16 that you can apply in your drumming. 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 #15

It’s Fill Of The Week Time, let’s check out fill of the week #15:

What? No Tom-Toms? No-Flams? No Crashes? Just Bass, Snare and Hi-Hats? Is this really fill of the week? Yes, it is. Fill of the week #15 is what is known as a Groove Fill. Just a simple variation on the groove that doesn’t interrupt the flow of time. This is one of my favorites.

Learn The Fill

The main feature of this fill is the bass drum on the 16th notes. As long as you can play alternating 16th notes between your right hand and right foot, you should be able to play this fill. If you can’t do that, then this first exercise is for you:

alternating hi-hat & bass
Alternating Hi-Hat / Bass 16th Notes

Play this exercise very slowly – 40bpm – and just focus on alternating your right hand and your right foot very smoothly. Once that is happening, we can start to learn the fill.

Here’s the first 6 notes of the fill:

First 6 notes
Count as you play!

The next 6 six notes of the fill are just a repeat of the first 6 notes. They start on the next available 16th note which is the “& of 2”

first 12 notes
Keep counting

Now we’re just left with beat 4 to fill in. For this fill I opted for two eighth notes to finish off beat four. A snare on 4 and a bass on the & of 4. I like this ending as the snare drum ends the fun of the fill in an authoritative manner and the bass drum on the & of 4 indicates it’s time to get back to work. Here’s the full fill.

the whole fill
Groovy!

Take It Further

There are 2 simple ways to change this fill up. The first is to simply move your right hand away from the hi-hat. Try it on the floor tom, for example:

adding the floor tom
Tom Tom Time!

The other simple way to change this fill is to play around with beat 4. I like to keep a snare drum on beat 4, as it fits with the rest of the fill, but what happens after than is up to you. Here’s a few examples:

alternate endings
Change it up!

The first variation is just a flam; simple, but powerful. A great way to put an exclamation point in a song and move onto a completely different section of the song.

The second variation has that flam, but connects back into the groove a little smoother thanks to the bass and 2 snare drums. It keeps the theme of the fill going by using just the bass and snare.

The third variation is just a standard 16th note fill played around the toms. This is just to add a little tom colour to the fill, but it still keeps that snare on beat 4.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #15. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Groove Of The Week #15

It’s groove of the week time! Let’s get to number 15:

MORE COWBELL! Gotta love grooves with cowbell in them. I figured that after 14 grooves of the week, it was about time that I hit the cowbell.

There have been many great songs with cowbell parts over the years, some of the the most notable ones being “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones, “Good Times, Bad Times” by Led Zepplin and of course “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. That last one was the subject of a Saturday Night Live sketch which spawned the “MORE COWBELL!” shout that you’ll hear anytime a drummer plays a cowbell.

This groove was more inspired by the groove Pat Torpey played on the song “Temperamental” by Mr Big; check out the groove in the introduction and about 2 minutes 24 seconds into the song. I always loved how the cowbell plays a rather irregular pattern. This is my attempt to create something with a similar irregular cowbell pattern.

Get The Groove

This is a complex groove with 4-way co-ordination, but we can break it down into smaller parts and piece it together. The first piece of the puzzle is the pattern the hands are playing. We don’t need to worry about which instruments they are playing yet, just what the pattern is. Most of the groove – from beat 1 up until beat 4 – is just a three note grouping repeated 4 times over 16th notes. The three note grouping is RLR. Here it is played on the snare:

Hand pattern for first 3 beats
Count as you play

Practice that at 50 – 60 bpm until you are comfortable.

Now lets fill in the last beat of the bar. Beat 4 is the only time in the groove that the hands actually play together. We’ll represent that by a flam on the snare drum for now, don’t flam it when we play the groove though. Then we have a Left on the “&” of 4 and a Right on the “ah” of four. Here’s the complete hand pattern.

full hand pattern
Keep counting!

Practice the hand pattern slowly until you are confident with it.

Now lets move the right hand onto the ride cymbal & keep the left on the snare.

hands split between snare and ride

Now the groove is starting to take shape. The next element to add is the bell of the Ride Cymbal. This is played on the first Right of each RLR group. Thinking “Bell-Snare-Ride-Bell-Snare-Ride etc…” might help you with this.

adding the ride-bell
Bell-Snare-Ride-Bell-Snare-Ride-Bell-Snare-Ride-Bell-Snare-Ride-Both-Snare-Ride

Take your time getting comfortable with that, you may not be able to learn this groove in one sitting. Our final step for the hands is the moment you’ve been waiting for – adding the COWBELL.

Have a look at where my cowbell is on my kit, you may need to reposition your cowbell to make it accessible to the left hand (or buy another one, you can never have too many cowbells!) If you’re on an electronic kit, then assign tom 1 to the cowbell sound or, if you have multiple zones on your snare drum, then assign the outer edge to the cowbell sound, whichever makes it easier for you. Here’s the full hand pattern:

adding the cowbell
MORE COWBELL!

Now we’ve got the hands working, it’s time to add the feet. The first 4 notes with the feet coincide with the Right hand playing the bell of the ride cymbal. Let’s add those first:

adding the feet
Adding the feet.

The last two notes on the feet are a little trickier; the bass drum on the “ah” of 3, and the pedalled hi-hat on the “e” of 4. Here’s the whole groove:

the whole groove
The Whole Groove.

Take your time learning this groove, it is challenging. Take it as slow as you need to, 30 – 40bpm. It’s better to go slow and get it right than go fast and get it wrong.

Take It Further

There are a couple of ways we can vary this groove. We can alter the foot pattern and we can alter the ending. Let’s look at changing the foot pattern first.

We’ll keep all the notes in the same place, we’ll just change all the hi-hat notes to bass drum:

more bass
Give me more bass

I like the pedalled hi-hat on the “e” of 4 in the original groove, so we can add that back in to break up the bass a bit and create another variation:

less bass, one hi-hat
Give me back my hi-hat.

Moving the bass drum on to beat 4, so it plays with the Bell of the Ride cymbal every time, is also an useful variation:

Bass n Bell together
The Bass N’ Bell connection

As with any groove, we want to be able to add fills to it. The most natural place to add fills to this groove is on beat 4. We’ll stop the groove on the cowbell on the “&” of 3 and then fill beat 4. Here’s 3 ideas:

adding fills
Fill it up!

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #15. 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 #14

Warning! This fill goes OVER THE BAR LINE and should only be used in extreme situations! Let’s check it out.

This fill uses a 5 note grouping that’s played 4 times over 16th notes. That gives a grand total of twenty 16th notes, therefore it’s never going to fit in a bar of 16th notes in 4/4. Luckily for us though, it does allow us to end the fill in a rather cool fashion on beat 2 of the next bar, amazing all our friends and family.

Learn The Fill

The 5 note grouping used in this fill is Right, Left, Right, Kick, Kick or RLRKK for short. Playing just those 5 notes shouldn’t cause you a problem. The tricky part comes when we try to apply it in time. It can feel strange because the 5 note grouping doesn’t always start on the beat.

The first step in learning this fill is to just get comfortable playing the 5 note grouping continuously. Don’t worry about playing in time with a metronome to start with, just get comfortable playing RLRKK 4 times in a row, in an even manner, with no gaps between each group:

R L R K K R L R K K R L R K K R L R K K

You can play this on your legs, on the table at work, on your desk at school, or just between the snare and bass/kick drum (K) on your kit.

Once that is smooth, we can start to look at the orchestration around the kit. All I did was simply move the 3rd note of the grouping around the kit. Here’s the fill with the 5 note grouping spelt out:

Fill with 5 note grouping highlighted.
Groups of five are fun!

So you can see, the 3rd note of each group of five is played first on Tom 1, then Tom 2, then the Floor Tom, and finally, the Snare. The RLRKK grouping remains the same throughout the whole fill.

To practice this fill, set your metronome to 40bpm and have it count 16th notes (I highly recommend TempoPerfect by NCH software) and play along with it carefully. It’s also good to learn this fill with the regular 16th note counting so you know where each group of 5 starts. Here’s the fill with the regular 16th note counting.

5 note grouping fill with 16th note counting
Let me hear you counting!

Our first group of 5 obviously starts on beat 1, the next is on the “e” of 2, the third on the “&” of 3 and final group starts on the “ah” of 4. Again, try playing it slowly (40bpm) with the metronome and counting the 16th notes aloud and focusing on where each group starts. This will help to solidify your timing.

Use this fill carefully, it can sound cool when done in a solo or drum-break section of a song. You can also use it in situations where you want to accent beat 2 after a fill and not beat one. The whole band should be accenting beat 2 together with you to make it sound good – check out the chorus of “In The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World for an example of a band all accenting on beat 2.

The other challenge with this fill is getting back into your groove after the fill. You can come back in on the “&” of 2 or on beat 3. Here’s some examples to try:

how to get back in the groove after the fill
Get back in the groove.

Taking It Further

You’ve just learnt a cool 5 note grouping fill and been told you can’t use it unless your band allows to use it… that sucks… however… with a quick modification, you can use it! Woo Hoo! As shown in the bonus fill on the video, (you did watch till the end right?) you can make this a 1 bar fill very easily. Here’s the 1 bar version:

one bar version of the fill
One bar of awesome coming up!

So we simply play just 3 groups of 5 16th notes and then add a single left hand snare note on the end.

The other way to take this further is to re-orchestrate our 5 note grouping. Here’s two examples:

orchestrations of the RLRKK pattern
Still RLRKK

So we’re still using the RLRKK grouping, we’re just hitting different drums on the RLR part.

Another option is to find other 5 note groups that we like the sound of. Here’s 2 more options:

different 5 note groupings
5 is the magic number

Our groupings this time were RLRLK and then BKBKK (B = both hands). Explore both of those groupings and see what variations you can come up with.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #14. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the Contact Us page.

Groove Of The Week #14

Welcome to groove of the week #14, Let’s Rock!

We’re back to basics this week, this is a great sounding groove with a driving quarter note pulse on hi-hat. Playing just quarter notes on the hi-hat leaves more space for the rest of the musicians to play and feels more angular and aggressive. It’s not as smooth and friendly as your regular 8th note hi-hats.

A master of this kind of groove was the drummer for Free and Bad Company, Simon Kirke. Often you’ll hear quarter note hi-hats when the tempo is fast – 180bpm & upwards – but as Simon Kirke demonstrated, they can sound great at slower tempos too. Check out Mr. Big or All Right Now by Free to hear this (or even Mr. Big’s cover of Mr. Big to hear the great Pat Torpey’s take on this – his drum sound is MASSIVE).

Get The Groove

While this groove appears simple, beginner drummers often have trouble separating their hands from their feet, often the right hand wants to follow the right foot. If this applies to you, slow things right down and count out loud.

The other area that can cause slip ups is the accuracy of the bass drum notes that occur between the quarter note hi-hats. Time spent working slowly & precisely with a metronome will be beneficial. Here’s the groove with the counting spelt out to help you along:

Groove of the week 14 + counting
Let me hear you counting!

Take It Further

The thing I like most about this groove is the way the bass drum skips beat 3 on the second bar. Our variations on this groove will focus on skipping other beats in the same manner. Here’s 4 variations for you to try:

Variations on groove of the week #14
Skip those beats!

The other thing we want to be able to do is add fills to this groove. Here we have simple 16th note snare drum fills. Try these first and watch your timing. This can be tricky because of the change in subdivision for the right hand from quarter notes to now playing sixteenths. Work with a metronome and make sure you’re not speeding up here.

groove of the week #14 plus fills
Fill ’em up without speeding up.

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #14. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, let us know via the Contact Us page.