A Fill for Every Season #2

Here we are with the second episode of this new series, something I’m sure will inspire you. With the first episode, I shared a drum fill played by Carlos Vega on “Oasis” by Dave Grusin. This time I’m glad to share a drum fill I developed by myself, which can be used in a great variety of styles. The lesson is divided into two parts: in the first, I introduce and demonstrate the fill, and in the second, I show you how to apply it in a groove context. At the end of this article, I suggest additional variations.

PART I

The idea is based on 8th-note triplets with sticking that mixes singles and diddles. The snare on the third beat gives the fill a half-time sensation. From a construction point, the first two beats are inspired by a Steve Gadd lick, with a difference for the last 8th note of the second beat played with the right hand, which “inverts” the sticking for the last two beats. The idea for the second part of the fill is straightforward, moving from the snare to the tom and floor tom, adding a diddle on the last beat.

We start playing the fill at a slow speed focusing on accuracy and consistency, and then we can apply it musically, playing three bars of groove and one of fill.

fill idea 8th note triplets

The following is a variation that can be easily played in a loop since the first note is played on the floor tom, creating a circle structure. In jazz and latin context, this is the version I prefer, allowing you to continue to play the ostinato between bass drum and hi-hat, while the first version is more funk/R&B oriented.

fill idea variation 8th note triplets

PART II

Once you have mastered the fill, we can apply it in a groove context, creating new drum beats. We start playing all the notes indicated with “R” and “L” on the hi-hat, with the snare drum backbeat on the third beat. As I demonstrate in the video below, this way of playing gives you an open approach to the drumset, incorporating toms and cymbals.

The second groove application consists of playing the “R” on the hi-hat and the “L” on the snare, accenting only the third beat. On the first note, we play the hi-hat in unison with the bass drum. That is a versatile drum beat suitable for a great variety of styles, from afro-cuban to funk and R&B. Make it yours!


In the end, try to play your variations. The possibilities are endless. You can, for example, replace the last note with the snare, turn the fill into a sextuplets subdivision or “cut away” the fourth beat and play the first three beats over the bars. Stay tuned for the next episode. Keep on drumming!


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