When you’re playing along with a song, the process is fairly simple: maintain an even beat, follow the notation, and simply don’t bring too much attention to yourself. But then you reach a transitional point in the song, perhaps verse-to-chorus transition, or maybe a modulation. It’s drum fill time, and all eyes are on you.
How do you make the most of these opportunities, and how can you “spice up” your drum fills? Are you tired of the same old fills? Keep reading for some tips on how to improve at the transition points in your music.
If you’d like to work with an expert drum teacher in Cleveland, OH, contact our music school today – we offer free 30 minute trial lessons to all interested students, and we would be happy to work with you.
What’s a Drum Fill?
Drum fills occur at transitional points in the music, as a song works from the verse to the chorus, away from a break strain, between key changes, or other points. Simply put, a fill departs from the groove of the music and presents a different rhythm for a few moments.
Change the Orchestration of a Fill
Fills are predominantly played with snares and toms, but there’s plenty of variation to be found there. If you usually play the downbeat of a fill with the snare, why not test out a downbeat on a tom? Or vice versa? You can even mix in a kick or some hi-hat cymbals to change things up – the important thing is that you should try these variations out before playing them in rehearsals or live shows. Also, make sure you maintain the same steadiness of rhythm when experimenting with orchestration.
Alter The Dynamics
Playing louder isn’t usually the answer for a drummer – you could cover up the vocals or other instruments. Furthermore, listeners can become desensitized if everything is loud.
For your fills, try piquing interest by playing quietly, or introduce a dramatic crescendo – again, this is up to your interpretation and experimentation, but it can be an easy way to add drama to your fills.
Groove and Non-Groove Fills
Sometimes it may be appropriate to depart from the song’s groove in your fill – and these moments can be interesting, fun, and they can set up the next section of the song. But at other points in the music, you may not want to kill the momentum by playing a non-groove fill. You can remove subdivision, use different instruments, or change the dynamics, but try playing your fills within the existing groove.
Think About Your Paradiddles
Firstly, try using a paradiddle (or other rudiments) in your drum fills if you haven’t already done so. Once you’ve worked them into your fills, try alternating left-right-left-left and right-left-right-right. Mix up the accents for additional variation.
For a more advanced concept, try playing paradiddles across multiple instruments – the snare, toms, crash cymbals, etc. You don’t even need to change the rhythm to make your fill significantly more interesting if you do this.
Add Grace Notes To Your Fill
Do you currently use flams in your drum fills? If not, give it a try. You can embellish your primary strokes and rudiments with grace notes to dramatically change the feel of the fill. As with your paradiddles, use flams across instruments for added texture.
Get Started With Drum Lessons Today
If you want to start exploring these concepts with a teacher who has considerable experience working with students and performing live, contact our music school for a free trial lesson today. Learning the drums can be hard, but you can’t fail with our skilled faculty. We look forward to hearing from you!