Difference Between a Drum Fill and Drum Break

Jayson

Well-known member
I mean, I don't want to call one the other - when it's not the case. What is the difference?
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
It seems like - in that case - you can't really say one is the other. I mean, the same stuff could be used both ways.
I never thought about it before but when you that when you asked the question I came up with the same answer as morrisman. Also I wonder if a drum break is a little longer than a fill, like maybe a short solo
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
It seems like - in that case - you can't really say one is the other. I mean, the same stuff could be used both ways.
The terms are somewhat interchangeable, in that both feature the drums in an allotted space. I would agree that a "break" implies a section where the drums are solo. That might be a fill, an actual solo, or simply playing the beat through the open space (a la Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" where the break is just the beat.) A "fill" tends to be over the music, typically at the end of a phrase in order to set-up a transition to the next phrase. If the band drops out during that fill, it could be considered a break, but is still typically called a fill.

Bermuda
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I think it needs to also bring in a new section of song. If the music stops, there is a big drum thing, then it goes back into the same part it is still a fill. If the music stops, there is a big drum thing, then goes into something different it is a break. It can be in the form of a fill, solo, accents, whatever. It has to break up the musical sections.

This is just my own interpretation. There is no actual, historical evidence backing up anything I just said.

Tons of fills throughout, the drum break is at 2:20.

 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Break is somewhat loaded. Like take a break, put the brakes on, etc.

Some people use it as a term for a cue. Though this isn't universal, other cultures refer to them as Pick-ups. In Brazil they refer to them I believe as "paradinas", literally "get on the bus".

Its also confusing because the same pattern may not be considered functional out of context, but will occur in other contexts simply as a motif in a solo or something. Yet other times, functional cues and pickups will be used for practice only, and omitted in recordings and performances.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
A "break" is a change from the regular tune or a stop gap, and a "fill" is often used to fill in transitions -so a fill can occur at a break (though a break can be a stop LOL). It's sounds like some three stooges skit.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
The terms are somewhat interchangeable, in that both feature the drums in an allotted space. I would agree that a "break" implies a section where the drums are solo. That might be a fill, an actual solo, or simply playing the beat through the open space (a la Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" where the break is just the beat.) A "fill" tends to be over the music, typically at the end of a phrase in order to set-up a transition to the next phrase. If the band drops out during that fill, it could be considered a break, but is still typically called a fill.

Bermuda
this is what I teach...a fill is short, and is a set up or resolution of a phrase; a drum break is where the drums take on all of the responsibility of the song - rhythmic, melodic, harmonic - over a longer period of time; something simple like the Floyd reference is rhythmic; the Slayer reference is rhythmic and melodic (the run around the toms)...
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
Interesting question, since I can read everykind of explanation.
what I learnt, and terms I use - even as a French guy :
A fill : is a pattern to make a transition, from one section to another.
An accent : it would be just a cymbal accent - typically on the first beat, but can be other way
A break : the drum beat stops for few measure.
A drum chorus, like a short solo within the song, maybe one measure, the other instruments stop. "The End" in abbey road would be more than a chorus, a solo.
A solo is ... a solo,... long then.
Again, I'm not fully sure, but, to me a drum break, isn't a drum fill, though French musicians don't use the term "Fill", they use the term break instead - they also use rim-shot to say cross-stick...
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
funny how the description changes from region to region, and generation to generation...

I always hear non drummers refer to fills as "drum rolls" - because we roll around the toms, and an actual drum roll as a buzz roll
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
funny how the description changes from region to region, and generation to generation...

I always hear non drummers refer to fills as "drum rolls" - because we roll around the toms, and an actual drum roll as a buzz roll
You're right : we also use drum roll (roulement en français) for what is indeed a Fill. but I only hear guitarist or singers use that term :D !
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
Interesting question, since I can read every kind of explanation.
what I learnt, and terms I use - even as a French guy :
A fill : is a pattern to make a transition, from one section to another.
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
But a fill is often played without a transition of any kind. In the middle of a verse or chorus, or guitar solo, etc.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I think fills have been discussed else where. A fill historically was a way to play longer notes like whole notes usually with more of a legato technique like buzz rolls, or with more sustained instruments like a ride. There is a another closely related term, called a lick which is kind of like glissando, where notes are tied together.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
But a fill is often played without a transition of any kind. In the middle of a verse or chorus, or guitar solo, etc.
You’re right ! If this is Keith Moon Style, the fill may be a transition from one sentence or one word to another :-D !
 
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hawksmoor

Senior Member
I've always associated drum breaks with the likes of Rock Steady, Funky Drummer, ie, breaks that have been sampled in hip-hop. Maybe it's a UK thing. For instance, a break can be at the beginning of song as in Impeach The President by The Honey Drippers or God Made Me Funky by The Headhunters. If a band member called for a drum break, I'd carry on playing the groove and maybe elaborate the bass-drum pattern. I certainly wouldn't play a solo around the kit.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I think fills have been discussed else where. A fill historically was a way to play longer notes like whole notes usually with more of a legato technique like buzz rolls, or with more sustained instruments like a ride. There is a another closely related term, called a lick which is kind of like glissando, where notes are tied together.
Just to follow up on this idea, a fill can also be used functionally like a break. Often times songs start and end with whole note buzz rolls for example. People tend to associate breaks with precise staccato accents that can be heard over a large group, but the timbale abanico's(translated fan role), are double stroke rolls that end with and accents, are IMO legato, and sound like one continuous note.
 
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