Rock Drum Fills
How to Compose and Use Them

Composing Rock Drum Fills

Have you always wanted to astound your friends (and yourself) with completely amazing fills, but when your big chance comes, your mind goes blank? Or when you finally do manage to think of something to play, it never fits into the time that you have to play it? Here are some hints for creating and playing rock drum fills. Remember, a "fill" is just THAT--a way to fill a certain number of counts instead of playing the regular beat on those counts.

Practice at first using a 4-count fill (one full measure if you are playing in 4/4 time). If you divide each count into 4 equal parts and play on every part of each count, your fill would look like this:(Click on the player to hear the fill)

Now, set your metronome for the tempo that you desire for the regular beat that you are using. Then practice counting evenly to 4 between each metronome beat, making sure that each"one" comes exactly when the metronome clicks. This is how you make the fill end at the right time so that you can begin the regular beat on the first count of the next measure.

Once you can keep this fill steady, you are ready to begin creating your own rock drum fills. All you have to do is leave out any of the four parts of each beat--which parts to leave out is up to you. You can also use the toms for any part of the fill that you wish. Here are two examples.

When a part of a count is silent (those funny-looking signs are "rests"--they mean don't play"), skip that stick. This way you will always end your fill on the left stick and your right stick will be ready to play the cymbal on the first count of the next measure. Remember--even if you don't play, you have to silently THINK that part of the beat. Now try creating fills of your own. It may be helpful at first to write out your drum-fills and then practice them with the metronome.

Using Fills

Even if you can play the fastest and steadiest fills in the universe, you will be of little value as a drummer unless you understand something about the role of the drummer in a band.

The duties of a drummer go far beyond the obvious "keeping the beat". For one thing, a good drummer also acts as a kind of "director" for the band by introducing the different sections of a song. For example, fills are used between the introduction and the verse, between the verse and the bridge, and between the bridge and the chorus. These fills can be of different lengths--4 counts, 2 counts, or even 1 count. A fill to introduce the chorus might last a full measure while we might choose a 2-count fill between the verse and the bridge. 1-count fills can be used almost anytime to add color or emphasis.

You can use full measure fills to make 1 or 2-count fills. Just choose one or two counts of a fill and make them the last count(s) of the measure and play the regular beat for the first 2 or 3 counts of the measure.

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