linear patternsWe all hear our favorite musicians and, quite frankly, want to play just like them. If your favorite drummers utilize a technique which seems basic, striking one note at a time, then they are using what is known as linear drumming.

Let’s say you have been playing for years, utilizing various techniques to add groove to your playing, yet your fills still lack. The simplest of drumming techniques can make the greatest of differences.

Steps On Creating Your Own Linear Drum Fills

Too many drummers focus on being as flashy and extravagant as possible, striking multiple notes at once to try and impress the listener, when in fact that exact quality can take away from a piece.


The first step to creating your own linear drum fills is to observe. Listen to songs which utilize linear techniques, such as Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover or the Dave Matthews Band Crash into Me. In both songs, linear techniques are implemented within the fills.

As a musician, observation can be your greatest tool to improving your playing no matter what your desires may be. Keep your ear open to fills of some of your favorite tunes. Try to discern whether or not the drummers are using a linear pattern by striking one note at a time.

Creating Simple Patterns

The next step to creating your own drum fills is to create different, simple patterns. When creating these patterns, keep in mind that no two limbs may strike at the same time. If you are adding bass to your snare to give it a little kick, you are not using linear drumming.

Linear drum fills are all about groove. You don’t want to make your playing choppy and complexly incompressible because it will sacrifice the groove.

Breaking Fills

An easier way to create a linear drum fill is to take a fill you already know, and break it down. Each fill has a pattern. Fills aren’t random notes hit by flailing limbs. Each fill has a purpose and a direction, whether that is ascending, descending, or both.

Take your favorite fill, or even the simplest fill you know, and break the fill down into separate notes while maintaining the same pattern. This may sound easy, and for the most part it is, but it will get harder.

Playing The Fill

Start off playing the fill note by separated note until you get a feel for it. If you try to play the fill up to speed right away, you will undoubtedly frustrate yourself, as muscle memory will take its course and you will wind up playing a choppy version of your beloved fill.

Once you can play the broken down fill it a moderate pace, decide whether you want to speed it up or not. Remember, linear drum fills are all about groove. If you can play the fill at the speed of light it will do absolutely nothing to add to the overall fluidity of your piece.

After you create a few linear fills, you will be able to add them to your drum improvisations as they will become almost second nature.

As you can see, linear drum fills can be made out of any of the previous drum fills that you already know. The most important thing is to remember that no two notes may be struck at the same time. I cannot stress this fact enough simply because this is what makes linear drumming linear.

Like we always say; keep practicing, keep creating, and have fun!



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