Just because a fill is overused doesn’t mean it’s bad – it’s probably popular because it’s effective!
If you’re like most drummers, you probably have your go-to fills or patterns that you naturally play without thinking. If you aren’t sure, record a few of your practice sessions and you might start to pick up on your habits and identify your go-to vocabulary.
There’s nothing wrong with playing ‘overused’ licks! But if you want to make your drumming as interesting as possible – and play something unique that fits the song perfectly – here are some of the most common fills and how to branch out from some of them.
Beginners know this one well: it’s four on the snare followed by four on each tom. What if you used the same sticking but moved it around in a different way? Experiment with different orchestrations, groupings, and patterns. If you always play groups of four on each drum, try groups of two instead.
It usually starts on the count of 3 and it sounds exactly like the rhythm of saying the two names. How about adding a drag on the snare right before going into it?
This one works really well, but like any lick, it’ll get stagnant if you do it all the time (here’s looking at you, drummers who love trash can endings). Change it up by keeping more of the accents on the snare and only sparsely moving to the toms. Practice going into the six stroke roll from the five stroke roll or seven stroke roll. You’ll find some new patterns and sounds by combining rudiments.
A herta is two notes of one value, followed by two notes of double that value, played as single stroke rolls. It’s popular for a reason!
Flams and double strokes make this a fun one at tempo. The name is an onomatopoeia – it sounds like ‘blush-da’.
If these fills fit the music, that’s great – but imagine if all songs used the same fills. What are we hammering to death and how can we get out of that rut and keep innovating? How can we push ourselves to get better?
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