It’s time for drum practice with Tracy D! Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate drummer, grab your sticks and get ready to learn these 15 drum fills…
As you continue your drum lessons and refine your grooves, you will also want to work on your fills. Drum fills are are the glue and the flash that signal the transitions of sections in a tune (and they’re a departure from the groove). As their name implies, they fill the space in the music between transitions. They can also set a certain mood and create an excellent tension-release dynamic.
Drum fills can help you spice up your songs. They can be as simple or as complex as you please, but they should always be in the style of the tune. Sometimes, the simplest fills convey the most feeling. Here, I will explain a bit about drum fills in different categories.
For the following patterns, play three measures of time/groove before playing the fills. Make sure you can transition back into the groove. Some of the fills have doubles in the bass, so they’re good to get your foot in gear.
If you’re still new to drumming, these drum fills will help you get used to fills. Try to keep your strokes evenly spaced. Play your kick on the quarter beat through the fills.
Exercise 1: A full-bar fill that takes you around the kit with two 8th notes on each drum.
Exercise 2: Half-bar fill with one 8th note on each drum.
Exercise 3: This one is tricky because of the sparseness of the fill. Here, you have to be sure that you give beat four its full value; your tendency (as a beginner) may be to rush through that space.
Once you feel comfortable playing these drum fills, reverse the order of the notes, make the fills longer or shorter, and experiment with orchestration (voices).
After some practice, you will gain facility and confidence in your playing. Be sure to use your metronome; this will keep you honest.
Looking for more easy drum fills? Try these 16th-note drum fills for beginners.
Here are a few sweet little 16th-note fills that you may enjoy. Once you feel comfortable with these, change up your voices and stickings.
Exercise 1: You will use some mixed stickings and play some doubles on your toms. This mix gives you plenty of time to get back to the snare. Playing the kick on the quarter beat gives a nice six over four phrasing.
Exercise 2: In this exercise you will learn to sweep laterally, and the doubles on the kick help throw you back to the snare. This fill is fun to play (when you get used to it). Be sure that you hit with precision and that your bass notes are solid and evenly spaced. This is also an example of a linear fill, which we will discuss below.
Exercise 3: Sweep in a vertical fashion before terminating in a run around the kit. Play the kick on the quarter beat.
These cool drum fills are fun, and they will strengthen your core if you use proper posture. The sweeping motions will provide a different way to get the rebound to work for you as you move from drum to drum. Start out slowly to establish accuracy.
Once you have mastered the beginner drum fills, give these advanced drum fills a try. Depending on your level, it will take some work. Be patient with yourself and stick with it.
Exercise 1: This fill has the first two beats in phrases of four within a tuplet feel, and allows a release by resolving back to six on the last two beats. For an effect that I call “fill cleaner,” accent the last note of each beat as an exercise of its own – paying particular attention to the feel of your subordinate hand throwing that beat to your foot — then remove the accent. You should find that your fills sound and feel more balanced.
Exercise 2: Play the 32nd notes as singles or doubles. The space between the end of beat three and the beginning of beat four is a bigger move for your core as you turn from the floor tom to the hats. Your speed on this move will dictate your tempo for the exercise.
Exercise 3: This fill uses paradiddles for beats one and two, and allows for either single or double stroke stickings in the last two beats.
These drum fills are two bars of fun, and they’re great for building tension.
Exercise 1: A fun run around the kit (play the kick on the quarters of the 2nd measure). Start out slowly to build accuracy, and then challenge yourself to increase the tempo.
Exercise 2: Incorporates more of the bass.
Exercise 3: this triplet-based fill ends with a common rock feel.
Metal drum fills don’t necessarily have to be note-dense to be effective. Experiment with orchestration on these.
Use these exercises as ideas to experiment with voices and stickings. Try playing some of the notes on the rims, ride-bells, etc.
Play with your metronome! Set up subdivisions (8ths, 16ths, 32nds, tuplets) to ensure accurate note placement. Start out at a slow speed, and bump it up as you gain facility.
Once you’ve got these down, try creating your own drum fills.
Have fun! Repetition (done right) will build speed and precision that will only enhance your playing.