Drums – Fills






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Fills shouldn’t be confused with Fill-ins.  Fill-ins occur during the Time-Keeping by adding extra quieter (ghost) notes between the regular Time-Keeping notes and Groove, and thus act as “Embellishment” of both.


However, Fills occur after a “Stop” in the Time-Keeping and Groove usually during a “Break” when nobody else in the band is playing, and thus acts a conversational “Dialogue” with the band.  Fills are usually louder than Fill-ins!


Just as Grooves & Fill-ins can, the Fill can create “Rhythmic-Energy Contours” (see Drums – Grooves).  Fills can either “Build-up” energy-intensity to signal a louder upcoming Section of the music or they can help “Release” energy-intensity to a mellower Section of the music.  In my charts I mark these, with a “F” or “Fill” over a long “<” Crescendo sign or a long “>” Diminuendo sign, respectively.  Sometimes I add “B” for “Buildup” to further clarify!



Video:  Around the Kit with 1/8-note Tigers


Video:  Around the Kit with 1/16-note Porcupines or Trotting Horses


Video:  Around the Kit with 1/16-note Alligators or Locomotions


Video:  Stop Time on 3, Till with “+ 4e+, 2-bar Phrase:  1st bar Fill-in, 2nd bar Fill


Video:  Slam-Foot and Flam-FF Fills




Steve Gadd Triplets:



Steve Gadd Triplets are R L F or L R F, but these can also be played F R L/F L R or even R F L/L F R.  They can be played with 1/8 or 1/16-note Triplets.  Instead of the cumbersome counting of 1/8-note Triplets as “1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, etc.,” I teach to count as “1 e a 2 e a, etc.” or sing “1 da na 2 da na, etc.” or evenly simpler as “1 da da 2 da da, etc.” and for 1/16-note Triplets counting as “1ee+aa 2ee+aa, etc.” or singing as “1 da na and da na, 2 da na and da na, etc.” or even simpler as “1 da da and da da 2 da da and da da, etc.”


Video:  1/8-note Triplets using Motions in Jazz, and where to put the crash getting back to Time


Video:  Sneaking up on the RF by playing R     F Shuffles, then Fill-in with LH


Video:  1/8-note Triplet in the 4th Bar, all-hands in “4” to get to “1” in time


Video:  Coming out of the Fill with Foot-Foot “a1” crashing on “1”


Video:  RLFRLF “3 e a 4 e a” Fill or Fill-in in Jazz


Video:  “3 e a 4 e a” as “R L F L R F,” crashing with the R on “1”


Video:  “4 e a” as “R L F” or “L R F,” crashing on “1” with either hand


Video:  “4 e a 1” as “R L F R” then “L R F L,” crashing on the “1”


Video:  “2 e a 3” as “R L  F R” then “4 e a 1” as “L R F L,” crashing on the last stroke, adding Hi-Hat Heel-Toe on 2 & 4 with splash on 1 & 3


Video:  Sextuplet RLRLFF


Video:  1/16-note Triplets (Sextuplet) “RLFRLR” for “1ee+aa . . .”




Motion Studies for Fills:



I teach my Motion studies using Linear Fills like R L R L F or R L R L F F or leading with the Feet as F R L R L or F F R L R L, respectively.  These Motion studies will really help you get around your drum set!  Keep each stroke evenly spaced and let them flow in a continuous circular motion to take advantage of the free energy of momentum.  If you move in a straight line you have to stop to move in another direction, but then you have to overcome the force of inertia – a body at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.  You don’t want to be that “outside force,” because this is a waste of energy you could use instead for speed, volume, and endurance!


Video:  4-drums RLRLF Motions, ending with a Flam on Snare or Flat Flam (Snare + Crash)


Video:  Even 4-drums Linear Fill RLRFF for FFRLRL Sextuplets


Video:  Sextuplets RLRLFF


Video:  Sextuplet RLRLFF Left-to-Right Motion


Video:  How to use RLRLF / FRLRL or RLRLFF / FFRLRL as a Fill


Video:  Use a whipping motion to restart the Fill to create kinetic energy and momentum


Video:  Play in circles to create centrifugal energy & momentum, not in lines that lose energy from inertia


Video:  FFRLRL Sextuplet “In-to-Out” Motion – be even and continuous in your motion


Video:  Be even and continuous in your motions


Video:  3-drums RLRF or RLRFF



Rudimental Fills:


See also Rudiments page


Video:  Pataflafla Fills


Video:  Drag Tap Fills




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