Rock Drumming System

Learn How to Play Drum Fills and Breaks

So, now that you have all read up on how to play basic drum beats, let’s move on to something a little bit more technical – Drum Fills (also known as drum breaks). These are one of the most rewarding things a drummer can play. It gives them a chance to express themselves, and emphasize the song. Drum fills are played in all styles of music, rock, Latin, jazz, and punk. There is a lot to learn about drum fills, something that most beginner drummers do not learn until they have been playing for a while. So how do you perform a proper drum fill? Is it the same thing as a solo? These are all questions that beginner and advanced drummers still struggle with. So let’s learn how to play drum fills and drum breaks.

A drum fill can be very complex, or very simple. It does not need to be overly fast or technical to be named a drum fill. All it is is a space in time that you literally “fill” in with whatever you would like. It is a chance to change things up a bit, and adds some spice to the beat.   Drum fills are usually used for transitions into different parts of a song, (like a chorus or bridge). One big misunderstanding beginner and advanced drummers have is drum fills needing to be loud and fast. As soon as they get their chance to play a fill, they will play a loud roll on the toms followed by a loud crash. This is not the right way to go about things. Not only will you change the dynamics in a song, a lot of drummers will actually speed up the song, ruining the tempo.

To counter this, take a few moments before hand to get a feel for the song. If it is a slower song you may only want to play a small cymbal fill. If the song is a louder song, then you may want to build the volume and dynamics of the song with a crescendo effect fill. There is a lot to keep in mind when playing fills. Transitional fills (which are the most common) can go both ways, transitioning from soft verse to loud chorus, or loud chorus back to soft verse. A drummer’s job is to accent these changes with appropriate drum fills. This can be done easily by bringing up and lowering the dynamics of the drum beat.

Like I mentioned above, a drum fill is basically a section of time that you get to fill in with drum rolls and other hits. However, you do not need to play anything at all. This next example is a drum fill with very little to it at all. You will see only 2 bass drum hit with cymbals. You may think this is a bland fill, however it can be very effective. (Check the article on reading sheet music if you dont know how!) Try it out the next time you drum:

This next example is a bit heavier of a drum fill. There are triplets and 16th notes, played with you bass drum and cymbals. This example is meant to bring up the dynamics in a song and add speed and energy. Try this one in a heavy rock song:

Whatever the song style you are playing, express yourself the way you want. That is what sets you apart from all the other drummers out there! Make sure your fill fits the song that you are playing to. Remember that you do not need to wait for certain transitions to throw in fill. If you are daring, you can throw in a fill at any point of the song; just make sure it fits well! Check out the Drum Fill System for a complete list of lessons and instruction on drum fills and solos! Once you are done this section, try moving on to drum solos.

By:Dave Atkinson

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