CONSIDER THIS VERY BOLD STATEMENT . . .
WITH ONLY A FEW EXCEPTIONS . . .95% OF ALL 'FILLS' being played on ANY RECORDINGS will be based
on these 6 NOTE-VALUE concepts. Total comprehension of this material will translate into
INSTANT RECOGNITION. As we HEAR various combinations of these NOTE VALUE fills being played on the
popular recordings we enjoy every day, we'll instinctively know and recognize those NOTE-VALUES by sound
and/or sight. Ultimately, our listening skills develop, while at the same time we'll be sharpening
our reading and writing skills too. 32ND-NOTES = 16 + 16 (per measure)
Optional, for later study . . .
How many of these ROLL-TYPES (above) are you currently using
as you jam?
- 32ND TRIPLETS = 24 + 24 (per measure)
THE NUMBERS ARE IMPORTANT . . .
Look at the numbers, off to the right of each value.
Visualize the meanings of those number patterns?
It's a MATH thing . . . See and remember the numbers as you practice. Learn to think of the
fills as numbers, rather than by their names. The numbers will always be the same, though the names
tend to change as we use these SAME numeric fills with various (BASIC DANCE BEAT) tempo extremes.
These fills will work with ANY beat. They will 'feel' nearly the same ANY time we use them, and the numbers will always be relative though the note-value names may change.
Look especially at the roll you may already know best,
the 16th (single stroke) roll.
Notice the numbers are 8 + 8.
What does this mean? It means that each repetition of the roll will contain
8 notes per half measure, or 16 notes to a whole measure of 4/4.
NOTE: Half-measure 'fills' are the easiest to learn. Once the
half-measure fills have been mastered . . . it becomes VERY EASY to
extend ANY fill to ANY length by doubling, tripling or quadrupling the
original idea. No mistakes! EVER!
THE CLASSIC NOTE-VALUE FILLS:
We're starting at the beginning here, but it 'may' be good to
jump down and study the 16th-note (8+8) fill first, since you may already know that
one. It's the most over-used fill in modern pop styles. Nearly every
drummer learns it first.
The sound and video files are VERY IMPORTANT! Listen to each midi file
several times while visualizing the math or numerical concept of
each NOTE-VALUE, fill type!
NOTE-VALUE FILL TYPE #1
If we want to play Quarter Triplets . . . we'll need
to play 3 + 3 notes, VERY SLOWLY. . . while maintaining a constant
tempo on the bass drum (right foot.) The bass MUST remain steady as we execute
this fill . . .
Quarter triplets are so slow, they can easily played
with one hand by anyone, (no matter what level.) The
really HARD part is keeping the bass steady as we evenly spread 3
notes across the SAME time-frame where 4, 6, 8, 12, 16 or 24 notes
may be played in the later rolls.
I think they sound better when played as two simultaneous notes with
both the right and left hands. I've written them that way here. YOU decide. The rhythm pattern
is the important thing. It doesn't matter if we use one-hand or both.
Listen, then mimic the sound . . .
Now try adding 4th (quarter) triplets to the 8th rock beat.
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the QUARTER TRIPLET FILL WITH THE 8TH ROCK BEAT.
I like to play simultaneous 4th triplets on both the hi-tom and
the snare, though it isn't totally necessary. Play them anywhere you wish,
with either (or both) hands.
NOTE-VALUE FILL TYPE #2
These are easy . . . You can do these with one hand or both! Again,
it's your choice.
We are ALREADY playing 8th-notes on the hi-hat . . . as we are
playing the 8th rock beat. Start with the fill, go into the beat, then
cycle it a few times without stopping.
NOTICE THAT THIS ROLL IS BASED ON 4+4 NOTES though the
notes are spaced into the SAME TIME FRAME as when we played
3+3 (quarter triplets) earlier.
LISTEN TO EACH OF THE SOUND-FILES SEVERAL TIMES!
MEMORIZE THESE DIFFERENCES IN SOUND.
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the 8TH-NOTE FILL WITH THE 8TH ROCK BEAT.
NOTE-VALUE FILL TYPE #3
8TH NOTE TRIPLETS:
You'll probably need both hands on this one . . .
Practice this repeatedly.
tempo must remain at EXACTLY the same tempo for EACH of these NOTE-VALUE fills.
If the tempo of your BEAT changes . . . so will the speed
of ALL these fills. The bass-drum tempo will bind everything together.
Here is a half-measure 8th triplet fill. You may return directly to the beat
after one rep of the fill or you may play two or more reps as shown in the example
immediately following this one.
Focus on that bass drum . . . keep it steady . . .
repeat the roll until it flows well . . . then
go INTO the beat . . .
Cycle back and forth between the beat and roll
until it's easy to do. KEEP THAT BASS TEMPO STEADY.
We're spreading these six notes over the SAME
time-frame where 3 + 3 and 4 + 4 were placed
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the 8TH TRIPLET FILL WITH THE 8TH ROCK BEAT.
NOTE-VALUE FILL TYPE #4
16TH-NOTE, SINGLES DOUBLES OR PARADIDDLES . . .
Play a steady stream of 8 + 8. You'll be playing a BASS
DRUM (right foot) on the first of every 8 notes.
Or, 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 indefinitely.
THE BASS DRUM IS CRUCIAL HERE. DON'T LEAVE IT
OUT. Repeat, repeat, repeat . . . playing the bass along with
the 1st note in every group.
Once you have the roll flowing . . . BREAK OUT OF THE ROLL
and go into a Basic 8th Rock beat . . . without changing the
tempo (speed) of the bass.
NOTE: The Paradiddle (RLRR LRLL) stroke pattern may be used above if you choose.
Hear it. Then experiment with variations
all around the drum set.
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the 16TH PARADIDDLE FILL WITH THE 8TH ROCK BEAT.
The bass should ALWAYS remain constant!
(I know I'm sounding like a broken record . . . but it's SO important!)
You'll come out of the roll . . . and return to the hi-hat (and the beat)
on any bass drum note. Continue to cycle from the roll (fill) into the beat
and back until it feels easy and natural.
LATER . . .
You may extend the fill as long as you like. Your
fill may be of any length! Play it on ANY drum or combination of drums.
JUST KEEP THE BASS DRUM CONSTANT ALL THE TIME. THE KEY
ELEMENT IS THE BASS.
We may play ANY of these fills . . . ANYWHERE in a song that we
choose . . . and our fills (or fill combinations) may be ANY LENGTH we choose. We'll always
know to resume the beat on a bass drum note. The timing is consistently maintained
as right-foot learns to HOLD the count.
NOTE-VALUE FILL TYPE #5
We are all ONLY human! The tempo of our beat must be
REASONABLY SLOW here or we may not be able to keep up.
Limit this fill to slower tempos for awhile, until the super-human
ability develops. It'll come
with enough practice! Most students will need 4 to 5 hours of
eventual practice on this one, before maximum speed will result. :>)
(Play 'R L R L R L', for each group of six notes.)
Listen. Then, build this
to SUPER human speeds.
Imagine cramming 12 + 12 notes into the SAME time-frame
where we just played 6 + 6 (8th triplets) above. If you can do it while
maintaining that constant bass tempo . . . you'll be playing
It's a VERY impressive fill or roll! It'll turn heads
every time it's used . . . even in moderate tempos. But
that kind of speed will require considerable practice.
Some of you may have your work cut-out for you here,
but . . . I'll promise this one thing:
devoted to this roll will improve COORDINATION AND SPEED
by a factor of 3".
Yes! I'm saying you will
become 3 times the drummer you are now . . . with one hour of
dull, boring practice on this 12 + 12 (16th triplet) roll!
Watch a great
HBO movie as you repeat this 12 + 12 (16th triplet roll), endlessly. It
will pay-off BIG . . . and you'll also have a super excuse for enjoying
a good movie.
(double groups of 6 / only one bass)
LISTEN TO IT . . . I've set the tempo to
about half-speed here. You'll eventually want to develop all these fills to about
double this tempo.
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the 16TH TRIPLET FILL WITH THE 8TH ROCK BEAT.
NOTE-VALUE FILL TYPE #6
32ND PRESS ROLL:
You'll need sticks for this . . . preferably on a
real snare drum. This fill is usually MUCH easier to learn than the 16th triplet
fill . . . because we'll use a 'trick' to create the illusion of speed.
By learning to 'crush' our notes . . . we'll actually be playing twice
as many notes in the same relative time frame by cheating or 'crushing' . . .
in order to get two notes for one . . .
Here we'll simply play the 8 + 8 roll . . . but we'll
'crush' every note. Thus creating two notes for every
stroke. We end up with 16 + 16 by using the 'crush'
or 'press' trick, making the sticks growl on the drum head.
TO CRUSH A NOTE . . . grip the stick very tightly
with the thumb and 1st finger. No other fingers should
be touching the sticks . . .
LAY the stick into the head and force it to 'growl',
producing a 'brrr' sound. It's a trick! Squeeze the
stick tightly between the thumb and finger as you strike
the head. Make it growl!
Now do it with each hand . . . building speed, placing
a bass on the first of every 8 strokes . . . just like the
8 + 8 roll . . . but now we are 'growling' EVERY stroke.
This is called a 32nd press or crush roll.
It's very useful as a fill with 8th rock or ANY beat.
NOTE: Since we're actually playing 32 notes in the above fill,
music notation writers tend to make their job easier by writing
and tying one note to another. The three crossbars and ties on the half-notes above
are indicating that we'll actually play a 32nd note press or 'crush' roll for the
entire length of the measure. Writers may use many conventions to describe
this same roll . . . (ie; 2 half-notes with three slashes, 1 whole-note with 3 slashes, etc., etc.)
NOTE: I had to cheat a little to achieve a semi 'crush' sound here . . . My midi
file maker simply can't do a respectable 'crush'.
Next, drop it into a beat . . . keep cycling from the roll to the beat
and back, until you can play it smoothly.
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the (CRUSHED) 32ND FILL WITH THE 8TH ROCK BEAT.
DISCLAIMER: Again, I must apologize for the above midi sound file. It doesn't
sound at all like a 'crush' roll should sound. The application I use to
make these midi files simply can't manage a 'crushed' sound. What you are hearing
is much too 'open'. A crush roll should sound more like you might hear just as a
firing squad is about to execute the prisoner in the movies. Use your imagination
a little, here. Play 8 notes per bass . . . and 'growl' or 'crush' each stroke.
The video I added later, is closer to what we want.
NOW, FOR SOME COOL TIPS AND TRICKS
The rolls will ALWAYS 'feel' the same! Only the BASS DRUM will
change as we adapt these fills to the other basic dance beat
categories . . .
- Try these same rolls with 16th 4/4 . . .
They're the same, but the bass notes will match the
bass notes in the beat. You'll only play half as many
bass notes in your rolls here.
- Try these same rolls with Swing and Shuffle. It's exactly
the same as with 8th rock . . . Start your fills on any
bass . . . and return to the hat on any bass. Extend the rolls
to any length, play them to any drum or combination
of drums. as you wish. Play slow tempos ONLY,
- Try these same rolls with Quarter rock 4/4 . . .
Now you'll either want to double the number of bass
notes in each fill (to match the beat), which may be VERY hard to do . . .
Or . . . you can simply play the rolls as you learned them . . .
it'll mean that the bass drum will be cut to HALF of its '4th rock'
The NOTE-VALUE NAMES of the fills tend to change too . . . as we play these
fills with tempo extremes. That's why the NUMBERS (3+3, 4 +4, etc., etc.)
help simplify the entire process . . .
THE FANCY RIBBON . . .
MIX AND MATCH ENDLESSLY . . .
There is almost no end to the ways you can combine
all these roll types to produce ENDLESS VARIETY as you
play your fills.
STICK WITH 8TH ROCK 4/4, UNTIL YOU HAVE ALL THESE
FILLS ADAPTED TO YOUR STYLE. Then, try them with virtually
ANY beat on virtually ANY song!
THE 'SECRET' TO ALL THIS DESERVES REPEATING, ONE MORE TIME.
KEEP THAT BASS TEMPO ROCK-SOLID-STEADY AT ALL TIMES!
Make your rolls and fills fit the tempo of the beat . . . (not the other
WHAT ABOUT RUDIMENTS?
(CLICK HERE to see 'more in-depth rudimental info' and the twenty-six N.A.R.D. rudiments.)
Supposedly, (at least, in theory), the rudiments train
(or teach) the hands and feet to execute the rhythmic 'ideas' of the mind.
I tend to agree and disagree at the same time. Though
the rudiments are extremely important, they are also very dry, boring, complex and often
At the moment, there are nearly 400 documented rudiments
on various roll-charts around the World. 95% of those rudiments
are made up of THE BASIC 6 ROLLS you've learned in this lesson. Common-sense dictates that
almost all student-anxiety and confusion concerning rudiments may be simplified and
solved by mastering these SIX NOTE-VALUE fills and rolls, first.
By conquering that steady bass flow,
while playing THESE SIX NOTE-VALUE fills . . . you'll discover that
MOST (but not all) OF THE RUDIMENTS WILL COME NATURAL.
AFTER ALL . . . the rudiments
are nothing more than these SAME NOTE-VALUES . . . combined
in various, assorted ways.
Use your imagination as you jam with recordings. LISTEN to the fills and
rolls the recorded drummers are playing. Analyze, identify and imitate what you are
hearing! Then, invent and create your OWN ideas within the same time frames.
DO NOT BE AFRAID to inject your own imagination and creativity into the music
that you play. That's exactly what the recorded drummers are doing!
BUT, be certain you have completely memorized THESE ESSENTIAL NOTE-VALUE fill and roll options,
so that you'll be working with a FULL PALETTE of rhythmic color, at all times . . .
These fills, once memorized, will add variety to your imagination tool-box.
PARTING THOUGHT . . . If we 'crush' the 16th triplet, (fill #5 , above), we'll theoretically achieve
24 + 24 or 48 notes to the measure. This will increase our basic note-value roll/fill types to a total of seven. It is written as a 32nd triplet when used within the basic 8TH ROCK, SWING OR SHUFFLE 4/4 DANCE BEAT structures.
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Copyright Bill Powelson 1994 all rights reserved.