Same fill problem

rjoyce

Member
I've found increasingly in my playing dispite learning several new fills and working them in to my practice I'm still playing the same old fills when jamming with another musician or my band. I have also found that I spent time getting comfortable phrasing in triplets and any thing I come up with on the spot is "stuck" coming out in triplets. Has anyone else had similar problems or ideas on how to implement more fills?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
That's a problem for everybody, at times. I think usually the solution to this is to do a lot more listening-- get some new things in your ear, that you want to sound like. Expanding and solidifying your understanding of rhythm is something most people can work on, too. Maybe get hold of an intermediate snare drum book-- that deals largely with rhythm and dynamics, rather than rudiments-- and play through it, to get some new things under your hands. There are also some books that just have written-out fills, which you can use as conditioners-- I wouldn't just treat them as a source of canned fills, though.
 

denisri

Silver Member
Many options to develop other fill...here is a few...
1. Play fill with one hand!
2. Change your practice drum set up.
3. use only HH
4 Use BD
5 use a snare drum book....trade 2 or 4 with time...use the snare lines for fills.

Denis
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Tough problem. How do you break free from yourself? The bottom line is you have to feel your fills differently. How do you do that? Like Todd said, listening to a different set of music is a great suggestion. For now, recognizing the issue is a great step forward. Solving a problem first requires recognizing the problem. I have a few suggestions for you to consider.

You could try to "outlaw" those fills in your head for a while. Don't allow yourself to play them. You know what they are, they are super comfortable and flow out easily, but no, you're not allowed to play them! If you can't think of a suitable replacement right away, take baby steps and just keep time right through the space. You have to re-program your fill tendencies. Imagine a fill that is completely opposite of what you would normally play as you play through a space, but don't play it yet, just imagine it. This will create a musical tension inside you that hopefully spawns other ideas. If you create enough "good" tension, something will have to flow out eventually. By restricting what you are "allowed" to play, this should stimulate some kind of rebellious thoughts that hopefully will spill over.

Another thing you can do is try playing your same fills, but re-orchestrate them. Meaning instead of starting on the high tom and descending (for instance), start on the middle tom, then go to your closed hi hat, than maybe back to the snare, just to change it up. Hopefully this should stimulate new ways to approach your fills.

Another suggestion: Delay where you start the fill by a beat, a half a beat, 3 beats...your choice. You can play your same stuff, but you will have to rethink it a bit to fit in a shorter space. This will force you to think of something a little different.

I recommend trying to think of something polar opposite of what you would normally do, just to move you away from your default line of thought. You need to use your imagination and try and feel it differently. If you can't feel it differently yet, omit the fill and just keep time for now, because you're not allowed to play your usual fills. When you actually feel something different, only then should you try playing it. Force yourself to come up with something different for now. You need to push yourself out of this rut. It's all in your ideas. Nearly all musical issues start in the head first. Change your ideas, change your playing.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Go back to the time when new ground was being discovered with the kit in modern pop & rock: the sixties & seventies. There's lots of experimentation going on. exciting but typically not over-the-top. Almost anything Hal Blaine played on is a great place to start... Grass Roots, Carpenters, Mamas & Papas, Association, etc. Jim Gordon's work was usually deliciously playful when it cvame to fills, sometimes almost to much, but also just right. His work on the Eric Clapton album is really nice. Even Ginger Baker's playing with Cream was pretty innocent in hindsight. And check out some of the stuff coming from the opposite coast, such as early Neil Diamond hits like Cherry Cherry, Solitary Man, etc.

It's not about the oldies, it's about what pro drummers did when they were looking for cool fills. Do old fills work in todays music? Of course! There's very little new in drumming apart from extreme double bass stuff.

Don't be afraid to embrace the tried and true stuff, if it worked for them, it'll probably work for you. If you're concerned about just stealing other people's stuff, then change up the fills and beats a little and make them 'yours'.

Bermuda
 

longgun

Gold Member
Tough problem. How do you break free from yourself? The bottom line is you have to feel your fills differently. How do you do that? Like Todd said, listening to a different set of music is a great suggestion. For now, recognizing the issue is a great step forward. Solving a problem first requires recognizing the problem. I have a few suggestions for you to consider.

You could try to "outlaw" those fills in your head for a while. Don't allow yourself to play them. You know what they are, they are super comfortable and flow out easily, but no, you're not allowed to play them! If you can't think of a suitable replacement right away, take baby steps and just keep time right through the space. You have to re-program your fill tendencies. Imagine a fill that is completely opposite of what you would normally play as you play through a space, but don't play it yet, just imagine it. This will create a musical tension inside you that hopefully spawns other ideas. If you create enough "good" tension, something will have to flow out eventually. By restricting what you are "allowed" to play, this should stimulate some kind of rebellious thoughts that hopefully will spill over.

Another thing you can do is try playing your same fills, but re-orchestrate them. Meaning instead of starting on the high tom and descending (for instance), start on the middle tom, then go to your closed hi hat, than maybe back to the snare, just to change it up. Hopefully this should stimulate new ways to approach your fills.

Another suggestion: Delay where you start the fill by a beat, a half a beat, 3 beats...your choice. You can play your same stuff, but you will have to rethink it a bit to fit in a shorter space. This will force you to think of something a little different.

I recommend trying to think of something polar opposite of what you would normally do, just to move you away from your default line of thought. You need to use your imagination and try and feel it differently. If you can't feel it differently yet, omit the fill and just keep time for now, because you're not allowed to play your usual fills. When you actually feel something different, only then should you try playing it. Force yourself to come up with something different for now. You need to push yourself out of this rut. It's all in your ideas. Nearly all musical issues start in the head first. Change your ideas, change your playing.
Some great advice Larry..................also, a few months ago, Drum magazine ran an article addressing this exact issue............may be worth a read.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Take out kit pieces so you cannot perform the same fills in the same way. Play that way for a while. Also, don't forget that you can make the "same old fill" sound way different by voicing it differently on the kit. Maybe instead of triplets down the toms, do them between the hats and snare, maybe alternate to the low tom. Experiment, and as already mentioned, listen to as much music as you can and pay attention. Listen to some things you wouldn't normally and see how they do it different from your favorite drummer or band.

And lastly, but most importantly, play with space in your fills. Don't "fill" the whole part where you want to put in a "fill". Space between notes can be just as powerful, if not more powerful than lots of notes when used inventively.
 

skod

Senior Member
And just remember: if doubles get you into trouble, more doubles will get you out... (;-)

Seriously, though, Dr_Watso is onto something very valuable there. Changing the arrangement of your kit can lead to some very cool new ideas. I know that when I went from the hat in the traditional snare-side location to putting it in the middle of the kit (with two toms to each side), I was able to completely redo my fill vocabulary. This was a radical change for me, but the exercise proved to be very worthwhile. One of the best things was that that made it essentially effortless to insert hat figures mid fill with either hand, a feel that I very much liked beforehand (but found difficult to pull off sometimes). I also played for a while with having the toms set up non-monotonically: with a small and large tom on each side of the center hat, as opposed to going small-to-large in order around the kit. I eventually went back to having a traditional tom order and non-traditional placement, but this sort of revoicing exercise can really open up some possibilities...
 

Brian

Gold Member
I've found increasingly in my playing dispite learning several new fills and working them in to my practice I'm still playing the same old fills when jamming with another musician or my band. I have also found that I spent time getting comfortable phrasing in triplets and any thing I come up with on the spot is "stuck" coming out in triplets. Has anyone else had similar problems or ideas on how to implement more fills?
I practiced the heck out of Technique Patterns by Gary Chaffee. hand/foot combos, 16th note triplets exercises. If you haven't worked out of that book, I would suggest it. (actually all of his materials are awesome, of course)
If you were to only work the 16th note and 16th note triplet exercises every day for 30 minutes, you'll eventually gain some of the coordination and independence to improvise much more freely, rather than play what's safe.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I think everyone would do this to a degree. One approach is just start one at some random point in the bar and then you're sorta forced to fill your way out of it.

Check out Virgil Donati, he's really cool for that kinda thing (though for him it's probably not random at all).
 

rjoyce

Member
Thanks everyone for all the replies, will definitely try listening and analyzing "new" drummers. Does any one have any specific books to dig into, I have been going through syncopation and picking random bars to use as fills when orchestrated around the kit. Any tips on practice this way or other books?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Another aspect of playing is not getting locked into doing a fill every 8 or 16 bars. Just play through the transition, and hit a crash on the "1"... Or not. You can apply a rule to when to do this, as it probably works better coming out of certain sections, but not others. So going into a chorus usually demands a fill or obvious transitional rhythm, but coming out of it back into a verse may be more refreshing and clean not doing anything, just play straight through.

Bermuda
 

rjoyce

Member
Another aspect of playing is not getting locked into doing a fill every 8 or 16 bars. Just play through the transition, and hit a crash on the "1"... Or not. You can apply a rule to when to do this, as it probably works better coming out of certain sections, but not others. So going into a chorus usually demands a fill or obvious transitional rhythm, but coming out of it back into a verse may be more refreshing and clean not doing anything, just play straight through.

Bermuda
I just tried This and this should be blatantly obvious, but Ive never realized the power of not filling in certain areas. It's amazing how not playing a fill can emphasize a transition more than anything.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Try recording yourself playing. Then play along with the recording. You'll hear what you normally do, and you can analyze it on the spot other things to do with the arrangement.
 

Piebe

Senior Member
Listen to some old records of the Jacksons 5, they have amazing fills that can be inspirational. Keep them simple and efficient when you feel they are always the same, this has helped me. I tend to want to show of during the fills, which results in the same old 16th patern that always sounds the same. Sometimes not playing the fills where they are expected can work too.
 
I think vocabulary has something to do with it. I mean, if you don't have a lot of words to speak, it's harder to communicate sometimes.

Maybe a little time learning some different phrases, or patterns will inspire some new fill ideas.

I don't have a lot if linear playing technique so I bought "Linear Drumming" by Mike Johnson...just to get a taste of it and see if that kind of playing creeps into mine. It takes time because of the muscle memory thing. It is challenging for me to put my foot into fills - its something I want to do so I try to do it.

I think it's ok to "be aware" while you are playing on the bandstand sometimes. You don't have to go on auto pilot all the time. Think when you are playing. Be aware. Simply DO NOT play those same fills - dont do it. That simple. Try something new, take a chance.

I like to listen to drummers and their ideas. If there is a fill I hear that I like, I try to learn it. You know what you like, try to mimic it. I like how Virgil Donati plays his fills - I can't play like him but I like his approach. I like Vinnie - and he has a million ideas - lots to try. But again, you have to have a certain amount of technique to pull some of this stuff off. Elevating your playing is not a bad thing.

There are lots of ways to play simple fills. You really don't have to do it the same way everytime. Put in notes, take out notes...change it up.
 

rjoyce

Member
Thanks for all the input. As an update I switched my kit setup from 2u 1d, to one up, one down with my rack beside the kick in a snare basket. This setup has forced me to change the style of fills I have been playing, and I went as a result have been using linear fills much more frequently in my playing. Also my vocabulary has improved from relying on patterns that were mainly descending rolls to less predictable fills. And on a side note my kit won't be going back anytime soon, I have found this kit to be very comfortable.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Thanks for all the input. As an update I switched my kit setup from 2u 1d, to one up, one down with my rack beside the kick in a snare basket. This setup has forced me to change the style of fills I have been playing, and I went as a result have been using linear fills much more frequently in my playing. Also my vocabulary has improved from relying on patterns that were mainly descending rolls to less predictable fills. And on a side note my kit won't be going back anytime soon, I have found this kit to be very comfortable.
Atta boy! After you've done that for a bit... Take out the high tom all together... Then start removing cymbals... Get as small as you can over time, you'll find your creativity will skyrocket as you're literally being forced into being creative. I've found that I can play almost any music with just a good ride, low tom, bass snare and hats. Coming from this and going to a standard 4 or 5 piece feels like absolute luxury, and I get all kinds of compliments on my "creativity around the kit", and "originality".
 

rjoyce

Member
After seeing the results of removing one Tom for just a short period of time, it is my plan over my next long weekend to strip the kit down to bass hats and snare and see what I can force myself to do. Thanks for the help Watso, I can see why your the doctor now. If anyone has similar problems I would for sure recommend this.
 

Piebe

Senior Member
I play a four piece for a couple of years now and i would never want to go back tot five or more.
 
Top