How would you explain a drum fill to a non-drummer?

BeatlesFan

Senior Member
I'm not a drummer but I can understand what it is. But I'm trying to explain it to a friend, how would I explain it?
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Duga Duga Duga Duga
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Duga Duga Duga Duga
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Duga Duga Duga Duga
 

druid

Silver Member
A fill or drumfill is like an elaboration or breaking of an already existing rhythm or groove. If you were to explain a rhythm or beat as a repeating groove...the fill is the musical decoration which serves to give some spice and variety to holding down a basic groove.

that is it in a nutshell...however meanings can vary depending on style or even on region...for example with African drumming the groove itself is a continuous flow...almost a fill in and of itself....in jazz fills are also used to ornament however the "groove" is not static as it is often times in rock.

There are always exceptions to every rule but that might be a good way to start.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
A fill is a short, interjected melodic or lead statement. They're generally used to outline phrases and set up ensemble figures. They're usually improvised, but are often specific enough to be considered part of the standard arrangement for a song. Contrast them with the other jobs of the drummer, which include keeping time and playing ensemble figures.

If that doesn't make any sense to them, tell them it's when the drummer goes "booga-booga-booga."
 

zfzgg

Senior Member
A fill is when you stop playing your regular groove, and play something else for a couple of beats instead, usually you'll play something around the whole kit, where the regular groove probably just used the hats, kick and snare. Fills are commonly used to introduce a new section of music, i.e. you'll often play one at the very end of the verse leading into the chorus. Then show them an example.

All the other definitions here, whilst more precise, are probably way too complicated and are just going to confuse you and your friends (and me, actually :\ ) a lot more than is necessary.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
If you're not a drummer (or a full time drummer) and play another instrument, can you read music? Can you write out the time of the fill? Even if you don't know what lines of the staff drummers use for specific drums, you could write out a string of 16th's, 1/4 note triplets, or this, a rest, and then that. Maybe some scribbles and arrows about this being played on the snare drum, that being played on a high or low tom (or you could look up drummer notation). Whatever it is you're trying to convey. And if your drummer can't read, then at least he has something to look at, think about, count out and try to understand.

If neither of you understand time notation, then it's going to be tough. If you can't tap it out on your instrument (or play it for him on the drums) then how would you expect him to understand?
 

zfzgg

Senior Member
Actually, that's an interesting point.

Are you trying to explain what a fill in general is, or are you trying to explain how a specific fill goes?
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Actually, I think I misunderstood. I think he's trying to explain the concept of fills to a non-musician. Of course that is many muso's idea of drummers anyway ;-)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If you couldn't actually show him on a drumset, then:

From Wiki:

In popular music, a fill is a short musical passage, riff, or rhythmic sound which helps to sustain the listener's attention during a break between the phrases of a melody.

A short break in the groove--a lick that 'fills in the gaps' of the music and/or signals the end of a phrase. It's kind of like a mini-solo.
—Scott Schroedl, [2]
A fill may be played by rock or pop instruments such as the electric lead guitar or bass, organ, or drums, or by other instruments such as strings or horns. In blues or swing-style scat singing, a fill may even be sung. In a hip-hop group, a fill may consist of rhythmic turntable scratching performed by a DJ.

"Fills can vary as to style, length, and dynamics...[though] most fills are simple in structure and short in duration"[3] Each type of popular music such as funk, country, and metal has characteristic fill passages, such as short scalar licks, runs, or riffs. Musicians are expected to be able to select and perform stylistically appropriate fills from a collection of stock fills and phrases. "Although it is a small break in the pattern, the tempo is not changed at all, and in most instances the time-keeping pattern is resumed immediately after the fill...An important point to remember is that the flow of the music should not be sacrificed to the technicality of the fill."[3]
 

crdirtRider856

Silver Member
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Duga Duga Duga Duga
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Duga Duga Duga Duga
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Boom Chicka taka chicka
Duga Duga Duga Duga
See I would have to add a ba-DANG pshhhhhhhhh, followed by a subtle yet poignant KA-POW!!!! I ve tried showing certain fills to "non-drummers" but its a learned lingo... or something.

You could always play any song with drums in it to whoever is asking and when a fill is coming, say "This is a fill, listen to the drums and enjoy." Other than that I m kinda stumped now.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Unless of course we're talking jazz and then this logic is reversed. You dance to the fills. : I
I didn't say don't dance to the little fast notes, I just said they're really hard to dance to. But "as Frank would say" ... ignore ..... the ..... pedestrian ..... beat!
 

Muckster

Platinum Member
To explain a drum fill, simply point out to the non-drummer one of the most familliar drum fills of all time...Phil Collins' "In the Air tonite"

FLOOM, FLOOM........FLOOM, FLOOM.........FLOOM, FLOOM.........FLOOM, FLOOM........... FLOOM! FLOOM!
 
T

TFITTING942

Guest
To explain a drum fill, simply point out to the non-drummer one of the most familliar drum fills of all time...Phil Collins' "In the Air tonite"

FLOOM, FLOOM........FLOOM, FLOOM.........FLOOM, FLOOM.........FLOOM, FLOOM........... FLOOM! FLOOM!
HAHAHA never seen that transcription before. After each second floom there is a bass drum squish though.
 
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