When is a Drum Fill Appropriate to be Played?

adding fillWhat is your role in a band as a drummer? That’s right, your main role is to keep a steady beat and help the rest of the band in playing together. However, even if this assistive role is the essential one, it is also important to make advantage of the moments when you can actually create momentum.

You guessed it right. It is not the solo guitarist the only guy who can drive the girls crazy with his skills. There are moments in a song – quite a lot of them, actually – when you have the option to decorate your music by adding a fill or a short drums solo.

The Structure of a Song

Let me assume that if you are reading this article you are rather starting out with drumming. In that case, your musical style of choice should be basic pop and rock songs with a 4/4 beat. That will be the easiest to comprehend; playing the timpani in the opera and fusion jazz can come later, okay?

Now, most pop-rock songs have a quite common structure. They usually begin with an intro lasting between thirty to sixty seconds. The introduction is then usually followed by one or two verses. Then comes the bridge, which serves as a connection to the chorus.

The bridge-chorus structure is repeated a few times, the whole structure being surrounded by verses. After all the verses, bridges and choruses are played, the song features an ending. This is it; most musical pieces can really be broken down to such simple components.

When is a Fill Appropriate?

Fills have quite of an ad-lib character to them. That means that once you have a basic understanding of what you are doing, you can play a fill just about any time during a song.

However, apart from showing off randomly, fills can really be considered a contribution to the song when they are played when the song shifts from one structural element to another.

For example, a loud rumble on the toms is something that can often be heard just before the chorus begins.

More tips: If you are playing a drum beat then it can be nice to break up the pace with a fill. Fills can actually be used anywhere within a beat, however they are most commonly used at the end of a bar, or as a transition between parts of a song, like a verse and chorus.

If you are changing the time signature of a song or drum piece mid way through, then a fill is perfect to break up the different pacing. Changing time signatures can be a very difficult task, and if it is done incorrectly then it can sound like the drummer is simply making mistakes.

What is Considered a Drum Fill?

The ad-lib character of drum fills does not only relate to their position in the song, but also of their contents. The complexity and length of fills really spans across quite a large scale. When starting out, the most important concept you should learn is how to “get out” of the beat and then find your way back to the beat again.

To practice that, playing an open hi-hat at the end of a verse is a great exercise. What you need to learn first is to abstract from the beat you are playing continuously and play something else for a while and then shift back to the beat again.

Once you are comfortable playing this simple fill, you should move on to playing different fills on your toms and snare drum. The next step is replacing your last two eights on the hi-hat with four sixteenth notes on the snare drum or the toms.

This should not be too hard, but make sure to start practicing at a slow tempo and using a metronome – that will yield a steady and reliable skill. If you feel like you are ready for the next step, you should try replacing more and more notes from your usual beat with decorative elements played on other members of the drum set.

In order not to mess up, however, you should rarely change the position when the bass drum is played. That is, in the case of a usual 4/4 beat, on the first and third counts of every beat.

How to Create Them?

The best place to start is with the rudiments. Whenever I learn a rudiment I always master it on the snare drum to begin with. This gives you the chance to familiarize yourself with the stick pattern and drill it into your head. Once this has been mastered I try to play the rudiment on different drums, mixing it up as I go along.

For example; if I were to play a single stroke roll I’d use the sticking: Right, Left, Right, Left. But if I wanted to turn the single stroke roll into a fill then I would play the first Right, Left on the snare drum, and then the second Right Left on a tom. This is a very basic drum fill, but the same principles apply for every other rudiment.

Concluding the fill with the crash cymbal is always a good way to get back into the song. The crash cymbal can act as a transition between certain periods. Remember that fills need to be structured to the timing of the music. If you are playing a beat in 4/4 then you must make sure that the fill follows the same rules. This goes for tempo as well.

Drum Solos – A Brief Touch

Every drummer loves to play a good solo! There is nothing more satisfying then driving a crowd wild with a nice piece of showmanship drumming. In short, all drum solos are, are extended drum fills. The main difference between drum solos and fills is that solos contain a lot more variation in dynamics and tempo.

When writing a drum solo it’s always good to have a basic idea of how you will structure the piece. Starting off with a repetitive drum fill, then slowly increasing the speed can be a good start. Adjusting the dynamics is also very effective. Save your fastest sounding fills till the end. When playing a drum solo you need to finish on a high.

Unlock Your Natural Ability To Play Creative Drum Fills

Learning how to develop new fills or creating unique patterns will no longer be a mystery to you. Drum Fill System is a step by step instruction program that covers various music genres like rock, jazz, reggae, metal, funk and more… If you are sick and tired of repetitive rudiments, you MUST check this out!

drums fill system

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