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  #1  
Old 11-10-2012, 11:13 AM
kuren84 kuren84 is offline
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Default Stuck in a drum fill rut

Hi all i just wanted to share with you a thought. I was drumming yesterday and found myself doing the same fills over and over. I started to wonder at what point did i stop varying my fills. I can play lots of fills but never seem to use them. I was then wondering if it was because the sort of music i play doesn't call for them and then i was wondering if i should of bothered with them in the first place. So do any of you guys and gals find this and is there a way/exercise to mix up your fills.
Thanks
Kevin
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:19 AM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Try to play melodically

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Old 11-10-2012, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

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Originally Posted by kuren84 View Post
I can play lots of fills but never seem to use them.
In which case, you're probably making musical decisions that are appropriate to the music you're playing. That's called musicality. Unless the music demands constant reinvention, such as in Jazz (and even then players fall back on trademark licks when on autopilot), I don't see what the problem is.

I always take a mathematical approach when trying to figure out fills for a new/unfamiliar pattern. I work backwards from the last beat, looking at all the permutations available and make a note (mental and literal) of the ones that appeal, then practice them until they're second nature. You've probably done all that though.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:08 PM
MKdrumsSupport MKdrumsSupport is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

I think it's more a matter of ease. The human brain works like a pattern recognition machine, and you can think of it like the most commonly used patterns are being most easily activated. You can train this only by consciously using new fills when playing as often as possible, and with time you'll learn to integrate them while improvising. It's really just a matter of practicing.
Of course I also want to refer to a pretty cool app which might be of help for you to get new ideas https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...tz.mkdrumsFree :)
But I mean, in the end, one way of practiving might be to start some tune, preferably start with a low bpm one, and then improvise like 3 bars groove followed by one bar fill-in and try to play each time a (completely) different fill then before. It takes some conscious effort, but it's probably a pretty effective way.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:32 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Are you looking at fills playing with a band or just when practicing?

Two totally different beasts.

If just for practice, I'd follow whats already been mentioned as in breaking things down, making notes where applicable and practicing at a slow BPM rate to build the muscle memory before picking up the pace so it becomes second nature. I'd also play along to drumless tracks you know, and make the conscious effort to play all the fills in a different way than on the original recording. For me, this approach made me listen to what was going on in the music more, rather than just switching off and playing the song.

For a band, it has to be for the music. I've gone from playing in a Progressive Rock band, with all the usual odd-time signature bells & whistles to a Surf Rock band; 4/4 all the way. At rehearsals I have tried to mix it up and throw in some 'different' fills, but I have realised that what fits are single stroke rolls, the odd flam and, one occasion only, doubles on the toms. Anything else, even triplets, just doesn't work within the music. Yes I am playing the same fill for around 85% of the set, but it works, and the audience are just as happy.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:35 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Many drummers are recognizable because of their drum fills, and they tend to use them in a varied style of music too, although they use more than just one drum fill, obviously, but most of their fills are instantly recognizable.

Having said that, it's human nature that you play the same fills over and over, you've learned and played them so much, they're part of your metabolism, when you play a fill, they come out naturally, the only way to come out of this rut, is to be conscious of it and work towards creating new fills.

But depending on the style of music you play, you'll find out that the grooves and fills are very similar from one song to another, drumming wise, the "changes" being felt by the other instruments/vocals.
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:23 PM
kuren84 kuren84 is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Thanks everyone some great points and i will take time to read them all carefully and consider them all. Thank you all.
Kevin
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  #8  
Old 11-10-2012, 06:27 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

I recommend internalizing the table of time so that every subdivision is at your disposal

this will induce creativity

you will even be able to take that one fill.... subdivide it many different ways and get more milage out of a sticking combination that feels natural to you without sounding like you are repeating the same phrase
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:49 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Good advice so far - If worst comes to worst, I saw a John Entwhistle interview where he smilingly said that Keith just played one fill over and over, so it's not the end of the world ...

If what you do works with the vocals, lyrics and mood it doesn't much matter if you play zero fills, let alone the same ones. How many fills did Phil Rudd and Meg White play in their entire careers? Maybe three by Phil in self indulgent moments?

Some fill ideas off the top of my head:

- goosing up the bass accents
- play a little tune
- different places to the end of the 4/8/16
- Ringo / Moon Q/A with vocals
- rather than replace the groove, add to it (like shifting your hands from cymbal/snare to toms)
- no fills - keep it smooth
- crash at the start of a fill or within the fill
- double crash at the end of fill
- end with a flam instead of a crash
- finish the fill early and slip back into the groove just before the one (this helps keep things smooth)
- leave a space to allow another instrument to be part of the fill
- playing over the bar line
- Afrrrica mon
- what would Purdie/Charlie/Gadd/Ringo/Bonzo/ do?

In the end, no fill is better than a dodgy one, unless you're in a band where everyone is improvising and pushing to the limit.
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:21 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

I play a lot of pop punk and you hear a lot of the same fills in various songs, I find it hard to break out of playing the same linear fills all the time, maybe you could try incorporating the bass drum or cymbals more, or A COWBELL
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
I recommend internalizing the table of time so that every subdivision is at your disposal

this will induce creativity

you will even be able to take that one fill.... subdivide it many different ways and get more milage out of a sticking combination that feels natural to you without sounding like you are repeating the same phrase
I think this is how I look at it too. Since I always know where each part of the beat is, I can basically do anything I want within the space I'm going to fill. One of my favorite things to do is actually leave some of that space and just put interesting stuff in there. A fill doesn't have to be a roll, and it can even just be something like displacing a part of the beat you were just playing.

Have fun. Try to avoid having a "quiver" of fills that you do. Instead, play what the music tells you might sound neat and appropriate.
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2012, 10:16 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

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Originally Posted by gaz farrimond View Post
Are you looking at fills playing with a band or just when practicing?

Two totally different beasts......

For a band, it has to be for the music.
Agreed. It's easy to play the same fills when you are alone practicing. I've crystallized my fill philosophy to 2 guidelines. If I'm covering a tune, I have to do all the necessary fills, if any. That's easy, I'm replicating their stuff. If we are doing originals, or remakes our way, I totally base my fills on the other players. I just listen to them and if I feel it I play it, otherwise I am keeping the groove simmering. Nothing pre planned as far as fills go whatsoever. I can tell when fills are pre planned because they stick out instead of melt in. Fills should be spontaneous and based on what is going on.

My main band's guitarist leads me on a merry chase sometimes, it's always pretty high level stuff with him, so there is no pre planning of fills, the only thing you can do is listen hard and react quick. Just last night he stuck a portion of The Beatle's "Baby You Can Drive My Car" (which I never played with him prior, he just assumes I know everything) right in the middle of "Mustang Sally"....For a few seconds I was like what song is he doing?

I think going into a song with an agenda to pull off a certain fill is a bad way to approach the song. Playing accents, defining the song structure, whatever that may entail, marking chord changes with a simple crash...I don't consider them fills. That's where I concentrate my focus, on the structure, the chord changes, accents, and keeping it smooth and flowing. Fills are pretty much the last thing on my list of priorities, as they tend to disrupt the flow, at least in my world of groove based music. The richness of the beat and the support of the others deserves the lions share of the focus, fills are maybe 2% of what I play.

I like the guys that try so hard to do "cool" fills during the song, disrupting the groove, then at the endings, when it would really sound good for them to cut loose, they just putz out. Lol. Wrong priorities. Fills don't define the drummer, I'll never agree with that statement, it's a drummers feel that defines the drummer.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Fills don't define the drummer, it's a drummers feel that defines the drummer.
I think you've got yourself a new signature!
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:44 PM
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Manningluck Manningluck is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

I get this problem a lot too. I have excellent advanced rudimentary skills and very smooth hands but when it comes to drum fills or solos, I am a total beginner. It's embarrassing and annoying. Most of my interesting fills are by way of an accident. The worst is when I learn an incredible groove and need some complimentary fills, I will throw out what sounds like a rabid monkey locked in the drum section at guitar center.

I'm of no help but I wanted to join in hearing what others have to say about this.

One thing I think that is over looked is playing with the click. You've got to start slow. Like someone else said muscle memory is what you're up against, not necessarily brain comprehension of fills (or groove for that matter). You can audibly speak fills all day but until you train and combat your muscle memory, they won't settle in. ALWAYS start slow and ALWAYS challenge it to a faster click speed.

That's just my thoughts on the matter. Thinking too mathematically, for me, leads to over linear sounding fills. Not my cup of tea but to each their own.
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:03 AM
Longfuse Longfuse is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

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Originally Posted by Manningluck View Post
Thinking too mathematically, for me, leads to over linear sounding fills. Not my cup of tea but to each their own.
It's just a tool: a way of exploring possibilities by looking at all the mathematical permutations/variations within each beat. At the end of the day, you get to decide whether any of it is musical (and also how you use the permutations that you like).

This approach introduces you to new ideas and gets you out of ruts. If you have an intuitive feel for music, and are creative, you'll use it musically.
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

I know where you are with this and my rule to combat it is less is more. Throw in a really simple one.
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Old 11-11-2012, 02:28 AM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
lls should be spontaneous and based on what is going on.
... if you're playing blues or other forms with room for improv.

In original pop and rock, well-composed fills can make all the difference to the success of a song ... which brings us back to your hooks thread.
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  #18  
Old 11-11-2012, 05:10 AM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

some of my favorite fills include a hi hat bark between snare and tom hits. I am working on a couple but its more just sorting out the timing as you are usually playing faster than the beat in these fills.
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Old 11-11-2012, 02:51 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Here's one way I like to approach this topic to assist in expanding on new ideas.

Take a snare drum solo and make them the fills integrated within the time.

Here's an old sample I did for a student to get an idea of this. Heck, I don't even own the Sonor drums any longer in this clip.

May or may not help, I don't know: http://youtu.be/AZ_U-Y2cTJ4

Last edited by dmacc; 11-12-2012 at 01:15 PM. Reason: Changed URL
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuren84 View Post
Hi all i just wanted to share with you a thought. I was drumming yesterday and found myself doing the same fills over and over. I started to wonder at what point did i stop varying my fills. I can play lots of fills but never seem to use them. I was then wondering if it was because the sort of music i play doesn't call for them and then i was wondering if i should of bothered with them in the first place. So do any of you guys and gals find this and is there a way/exercise to mix up your fills.
Thanks
Kevin
Don't know whether this would work for you....it changed my drumming miraculously.

When I was struggling (not just with fills but with acoustic setup to, having moved across from E Drums to A for live gigs) I moved away from three toms to a two tom setup. One rack and on floor tom.

It's not only 'tightened' up my drumming, perhaps because it's a better setup with better access to my cymbals (I am very cymbals oriented), but it's also sped up my transfer from rack to floor tom and back.

Critically though, whilst I felt I would struggle with fills, the fills I'm playing now are infinitely more interesting and varied than they were....it's FORCED me onto floor tom more when previously I think I was perhaps falling into a bit of laziness and focusing on rack toms.

It's a strange thing really...even the rest of the band have commented that my drumming seems to have taken a leap forward since the change (ps. they were complimentary before the change to be fair to them !!).

Try it...you might be surprised.

Please ignore me if I'm talking crap

:-)
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  #21  
Old 11-12-2012, 03:02 PM
kuren84 kuren84 is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Thanks for all your responses. I had a gig over the weekend and really thought about the fills i was doing and have come to the conclusion that the fills were apropraite for the music. Any thing more would have been over the top and ruined the songs. I will continue to analyse my fills and try and mix it up abit more when suitable.

Thanks again
Kevin
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:11 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Kevin do you record your gigs and listen back?

If not I highly recommend it. What you feel and hear on the bandstand, if you've never recorded yourself, will likely differ from what you experience on your recording. You need to record yourself and listen back when you aren't playing so you have your full attention to listen to what's really happening. That drum fill that makes you think...rut...just may work like a charm, and it's your own "stinkin thinkin" that is making you feel rut.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:29 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Something Jim Riley told me stuck with me: It's okay to play a fill repeatedly, IF it fits the music. In other words, don't think it's lame to repeat a fill if it works for the song. It's easy to get caught in the trap of thinking you need to come up with some variation to make your fills all a little different from one another. But in the end, nobody is going to care that you repeated that fill multiple times if the song feels good and the fill works.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:58 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

You can learn to associate the feeling of familiarity with a switch away from muscle memory response patterns.

Pavlov gave us just about all we need.

Throw in some cognitive behavor modification techniques tuned to the individual and you can create a pattern of playing where you can control your crossing the line between your subjective levels of familiarity.

I admit it feels a bit like walking a tight rope..played havoc with my timing...but you can get comfortable and smooth with it.

But remember...sometimes repition is the best spice...right along side silence.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:38 AM
djmemjy djmemjy is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

I'm by no means an expert but I think fills are the best moment to express your musicality (as has been said by other members).

I'm by no means a pro, but for me, I work at internalising the subdivisions which occur in the count and I spend a lot of time constantly working to expand my vocabulary. By vocabulary I mean different sticking combinations, rudiments, flams/unisons between different voices etc... These form the 'words' of a fill for me. Using my feel of the possible subdivisions available, I create 'sentences' with my known vocabulary of drumming 'words' and that is how I deliver my drum fills.

As an avid listener to all types of music, as well as the music I am playing at that moment; I attempt to choose the sentences / fills which I feel suit the music the most.
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  #26  
Old 11-13-2012, 01:10 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

It's important to keep things simple. Kick, hat, snare all the way. Something as simple as a flam on beat 4 is a fill. As soon as you keep that in mind your options explode.
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  #27  
Old 04-18-2013, 11:55 AM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Quote:
Originally Posted by MKdrumsSupport View Post
I think it's more a matter of ease. The human brain works like a pattern recognition machine, and you can think of it like the most commonly used patterns are being most easily activated. You can train this only by consciously using new fills when playing as often as possible, and with time you'll learn to integrate them while improvising. It's really just a matter of practicing.
Of course I also want to refer to a pretty cool app which might be of help for you to get new ideas https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...tz.mkdrumsFree :)
But I mean, in the end, one way of practiving might be to start some tune, preferably start with a low bpm one, and then improvise like 3 bars groove followed by one bar fill-in and try to play each time a (completely) different fill then before. It takes some conscious effort, but it's probably a pretty effective way.
Spot on, MK,spot on !
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  #28  
Old 04-18-2013, 01:29 PM
kuren84 kuren84 is offline
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

I have been away from the forum for a little while i come back and bang loads of posts. Thank you all for the comments, thoughts and advice. I have defiantly decided that my hands need a lot of work. I'm going to start working more on ghost notes and just feathering the snare so to speak in some fills as well as trying to gain more control. I will obviously be striving to improve and be a better drummer with a wide variety of fills for all occasions.

Thanks to you all again
Kevin
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuren84 View Post
I have been away from the forum for a little while i come back and bang loads of posts. Thank you all for the comments, thoughts and advice. I have defiantly decided that my hands need a lot of work. I'm going to start working more on ghost notes and just feathering the snare so to speak in some fills as well as trying to gain more control. I will obviously be striving to improve and be a better drummer with a wide variety of fills for all occasions.

Thanks to you all again
Kevin
Yep, and thats another thing - Dynamics.

You can simply change your "inner mixer" (dynamics) and have a wide variety of your same go-to fills. Like you said, start ghost noting or accenting the snare or other pieces and you will hear quite a difference. In fact, you can take the easiest (probably most common) fill by doing 8th or 16th notes around the toms... now start accenting and ghosting notes and it can sound so much better.

In addition, incorporate the bass drum. Try some linear fills. So many combinations.
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  #30  
Old 04-20-2013, 03:11 AM
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Default Re: Stuck in a drum fill rut

When I've found myself in a rut - as Larry said, usually from practicing with no gigs - I have found it good to stop playing drums for a few days. I'll play guitar or piano instead. I usually find I'll surprise myself when I got back to the kit. It seems I'll come up with something new and it is quite spontaneous.

Anyone else ever try this (or notice it)?
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