How Many Notes Constitute A Fill?

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Ghostnote

Guest
What's everyone's opinion? Do you need at least a few notes in succession, or does something as simple as a flam on a snare drum qualify as a drum fill?
 

ConcertTom

Senior Member
Usually, if it's not part of the regular beat, it's a fill to me.

Exception is in certain types of music where there's subtle grace notes on the snare that are quiter than the back beat. That's what I would generally call the sauce.

In bop and post-bop jazz, the sauce can extend to the toms without being called a fill.

YMMV
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I think it's kind of funny; a drummer named Ghostnote is asking what constitutes a drum fill.

How about this. A drum fill is any change to a consistent drum pattern. Even including stopping that pattern.


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Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Anytime you intentionally mess up the groove is a fill ;)
Yeah, I like that......
Or, anytime you intentionally or unintentionally mess up the groove is a fill.

Last night I messed up a fill. So I played it again exactly the same way so it would sound like I meant to do it that way. I don't think anyone noticed.


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beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Depends on the song / type of music / gig..... I can open the hihat and use that as a fill or displace it one note and it could be very tasteful. In my metal band I can often fill 16th/32nd notes for 2 bars and it not sound out of place.


The best thing you can ask yourself is WHY you are filling. Don't just fill because its been 4, 16, or X amount of bars. Don't fill just because there is a change in the music. too many guys crash ever 4 bars and play fills at every verse, chorus, bridge etc... If they music requires it, THAT is when you play a fill.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
If you've playing the money beat, four-on-the-floor, and add in one extra kick note on the "and" of four in measure 32, you've done a fill.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I always thought a fill was as the name implies-breaking the groove with gap-that you "fill" with something different or add nothing. "Mind the gap".
 

Reggae_Mangle

Silver Member
A fill in my mind is used to fill up a space left by the other instruments. It won't sound good breaking up the vocals, for example, but at a transition point, where the other instruments lose "energy" the fill acts like a kind of hook that offers another point in the music for a listener to focus his attention on.
 
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Ghostnote

Guest
The reason I asked the question was that I have wondered for a long time why comping in jazz isn't really considered playing fills, even though at times there can be a lot going on, yet in groove based music, the slightest change tends to be considered a drum fill. Strange how the genre shapes people's takes on what they are playing to such a high degree.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
So much of what we play and how we sound is effected by how we perceive what we are doing.

I suggest everyone try to NOT perceive any part of their playing as a 'fill'...but always as 'playing the song'.
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
To me, a fill is a drummer's musically creative decision to enhance the music (if it would even benefit from any enhancing) even if it's just an extra single note or a flam tastefully placed and in context with the music. By context I mean that although you might be able to fit in a blast beat during a bossa nova, it would be a terrible decision :D

I would say that comping in jazz is considered more as spontaneous musical conversation with the other musicians. It's still effectively subtle filling as it's playing extra notes with and between the main jazz ride rhythm and further enhancing the swing and the music. Comping jazz drummers will also play specific fills aside from the comping. But much like ConcertTom said I would say that comping is more like the sauce.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
In jazz a fill is well defined concept. It is one note that is filled in as if you were playing a violin or trumpet. Think whole notes. You start playing when the note starts you stop playing when the note ends, in between you try to make it connected and smooth. Though there are many techniques and interpretations to this.
 

Big Stu

Member
The reason I asked the question was that I have wondered for a long time why comping in jazz isn't really considered playing fills, even though at times there can be a lot going on, yet in groove based music, the slightest change tends to be considered a drum fill. Strange how the genre shapes people's takes on what they are playing to such a high degree.
To me they are two different things. A fill is a short phrase, a bar maybe. It adds to the music by creating emphasis, dynamic tension, segues into a change (chorus/capo etc). It's generates attention.
Comping "compliments" the music and can go for the whole tune. It's supportive to the tune and other musicians, not to generate attention, it's more subtle.
 

MrTheOne

Member
Usually, if it's not part of the regular beat, it's a fill to me.

Exception is in certain types of music where there's subtle grace notes on the snare that are quiter than the back beat. That's what I would generally call the sauce.

In bop and post-bop jazz, the sauce can extend to the toms without being called a fill.

YMMV
I see it much that same way. There seems be a "grey are" that exists somewhere between fills and the groove/beat. Don't know if you'd agree with this, but I think Vinnie Colaiuta's playing on the song "The Hounds of Winter" by Sting is a good example of this. Lots of quick little splash cymbal and tom hits that aren't quite fills but aren't the groove either. They're more like "flavor" to me. Flavor, sauce, yeah.
 
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