When you create a four-fill beat, the possibilities are endless. Many beginning drummers, however, tend to rely on the same pattern every time they play a one-measure solo. One of the first fills most drummers learn on a five-piece kit moves from snare drum down through all three toms as follows:
This pattern may be overdone, but with a few slight alterations, it can be brought back to life and can restore a drummer’s pride. Each of the drum fills below include constant 16th notes, played on the four drums in a standard five-piece drum kit.
Your hands should alternate: start with the right hand (right stick, left stick, right stick, left stick, etc.)
The following notation guide shows you what to play and when:
Choose a basic rock beat to play for one or three measures between each one-measure fill. Here is one possibility:
1-2. Start with the original pattern, and then reverse it
3-4. Reduce the number of strokes on each drum, and change the order
5-6. Reverse direction
(Move the opposite way around the kit during the fill.)
7-8. Strike each surface three times for the first three beats
9-10. Strike each surface five or six times, until you run out of notes
11-12. Accent each beat with a tom and play the rest of the 16ths on the snare
(Then, use buzz strokes on the snare drum.)
13-14. Accent syncopated rhythms on toms, while you play the rest of the 16th’s on snare
15-16. Use any pattern, and move around all of the drums with alternating 16th notes
(Just keep your hands moving, and keep counting!)
Create your own variations using cymbals, rims, double strokes, and anything else you can imagine!
Want to hear what these drum fills sound like? Listen to the audio file here:
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Kendra M. teaches drum lessons in Federal Way, WA. She has performed with professional orchestras across the United States and earned her Doctorate of Music from the University of Arizona. She is interested in the percussion music of cultures across the globe, and she has spent time studying drums abroad in Trinidad and Ghana. Learn more about Kendra here!
Photo by James Burrell