Swing drumming is a very common style that of drumming that is taught by most teachers. Swing and jazz drummers are among the best in the world.
Their timing, control and rhythm is outstanding and if you truly want to earn respect as a drummer then learning these styles is essential.
Swing drum fills can be very tricky. This is because swing music doesn’t follow a constant rhythm. Usually cymbals are played using quavers or triplets, and then the snare and bass is mixed in between.
This essentially means that the drummer is playing two separate rhythms at the same time. Adding fills to these rhythms can be easy, but it’s coming out of them that’s hard as most drummers will naturally go back into a semi-quaver beat. I’ll be explaining what drum fills work best with swing music, and how you will be able to avoid the pitfalls that most people make hen performing the fills.
Many swing fills are very quick and tend to be in the middle of a drum beat as opposed to at the end. Swing is very often improvised and doesn’t have set structure, so many songs will contain the same beats throughout. Swing and jazz is all about jamming with other musicians, and doesn’t follow the same rules as other styles of music.
Many drum fills will be as simple as just hitting one of the toms and then continuing the beat. But if you want to learn the more advanced fills then you need to think of them as beats themselves. When playing an advanced swing or jazz drum fill it’s a good idea to play the fill in the timing of the beat itself.
Ghosted notes can be a great way to help you do this. A ghost note is a hit on the drum that is slightly quieter from what you would usually play. Ghosted notes help you keep timing during fills, and also sound great in the background.
The drum rudiments can’t be used in the same way in swing as they would in other forms of music. If you want to create your own swing fill then a good exercise to practice is to play a swing beat, and then after every bar try to incorporate a rudiment on the snare drum, using both ghosted notes and accents to keep the beat moving.
Once you are able to perform this action, and then continue playing the beat afterwards then try to play the accents on different drums other than the snare drum. Then you’ll start to figure out how swing works.
Remember, swing drum fills don’t have to be a specific length. They can continue for as long as they need to, but they don’t have to retain just the length of a bar, like in other styles of music. Try adding the fill in the middle of the beat itself. Although this may be tricky at first, you’ll soon find it easier to come back into a beat using this method.
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