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Old 01-01-2010, 11:37 AM   #1
Det_Nosnip
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Advanced Fills & Embellishments

Welcome! I've been meaning to do a lesson about this for a long time but haven't had the time. A disclaimer before I begin: "advanced" is a very subjective term. The truth is that this concept is bludgeoningly easy when you break it down to its elemental forms; however, the possibilities are nearly endless. I classified this as "advanced" because it presupposes an understanding of basic rhythm theory and subdivisions and because it requires substantial dynamic control. In other words: I am assuming that you have some degree of control over what you are playing. The fill technique that I am going to discuss comes mostly from jazz but has seen application in rock, metal, pop, etc. For example, Martin Lopez, the (notso)recently departed drummer from Opeth, created quite a stir with licks like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PAXLK0BhzE
, and his replacement seems to have a similar style as well.

The disclaimer gave away what the entire concept is built around: dynamics. Dynamics deal with the relative "loudness" or "softness" of the strokes that you play...when talking about fills, this means playing a wide range of dynamics within a given lick. Whereas beginning drummers tend to conceptualize of fills melodically (snare, bass, tom1, tom1, tom2, crash), a better approach is to think of them as ACCENT PATTERNS (or phrases). Accent patterns can be orchestrated however that you wish; this is why fills such as these work just as well on a 3 piece as they do on a 20 piece.

There are two basic "laws" to fills:
1) Any rest can be filled by a ghost note
2) Any unaccented note can be diddled

Using these two principles, you can create endless variation from even the simplest of accent patterns. In addition, you can take just about any basic phrase and make it as simple or as complex as you want to. Here are a few examples.

Let's take a basic syncopated fill:



~~ 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Cr|------------X---|
T1|o--o------------|
T2|----o-o---------|
sd|----------------|
Ft|--------ooo-----|
bd|------------o---|

I can convert that into standard notation if anybody wants it, but the TAB format actually serves our purposes well because it outlines the 16th note grid.

Step 1 - find the accent pattern.

Ok, first thing you're going to want to do is to break that down and to find the accent pattern. When we're doing this, you're going to want to use basic alternate strokes (R, L, R, L, etc). All of the hits in the fill are going to be accents; everything else is going to be unaccented (ghost notes). The first accent is easy; it's right there on the 1!


^
rlrlrlrlrlrlrlrl
1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a


The next tom hit is on the "a" of 1. To save time+space, I'm going to convert the whole thing into an accent pattern.


^--^^-^-^^^-^---
rlrlrlrlrlrlrlrl


Play the original fill; then play the accent pattern on just one drum (usually snare drum, but heck you could do this on your knees!). Notice how they sound similar? That's because they are ACCENTING the same notes. The only difference is that the first fill was using melodic accents, whereas the second fill was using dynamic accents.

But wait...what if we do both? ...Exactly!

~~ 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Cr|------------X---|
T1|o--o------------|
T2|----o-o---------|
sd|-gg--g-g---g----|
Ft|--------ooo-----|
bd|------------o---|


Play the first fill, then play this one. Hear how they sound similar, but the second one is just a little bit "busier" sounding?

Let's go back to that accent pattern. We just demonstrated rule #1 - all rests were converted to ghost notes on the snare. How about we take a stab at rule #2?


~~ 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
sd|OddOOdOdOOOdOddd


By diddling the ghost notes, you get a sort of accented "roll" effect that is very useful in creating tension for solos or dramatic fills. It sounds impressive when done right, but can also be easy to abuse - keep it musical! Also, be sure to keep the dynamics as SOFT AS POSSIBLE on the diddles - this can be tough at first and takes practice. You want the accents to sing out as clearly as possible. In general, the softer you can get your ghost notes, the cleaner your fill is going to sound; conversely, you could go the Buddy Rich/John Bonham route and make the accents so HUGE that anything sounds quiet in comparison. This works especially well in recording, as the volume is set by an engineer anways.

For our finale today, we're going to wrap up all of our concepts and incorporate both rules into a final fill:


~~ 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Cr|------------X---|
T1|o--o------------|
T2|----o-o---------|
sd|-dd--d-d---d----|
Ft|--------ooo-----|
bd|------------o---|


Voila! Unfortunately, my camera isn't working so I can't record any videos yet, but I'll try to get some up in the future (or audio). For now: enjoy! For practice ideas, I *strongly* recommend picking up the book "Syncopation." Use the patterns at the end and practice:
1) accenting each note in the "melody" and filling in ghost notes for rests
2) accent each note in the melody; all other notes are diddles.

Last edited by Det_Nosnip; 01-01-2010 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:04 PM   #2
The Mites
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This concept is straight out of Joe Morello's Master Studies, so that's the book I would recommend.

It's nice that you put time and effort in to thoroughly explaining your lesson. Could you flesh out some more examples for us? Share some of your personal ideas.
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Old 01-02-2010, 11:38 PM   #3
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Yeah, good point. I had planned on it, but then by the time I got through explaining everything, the post had already grown huge!

Haven't used Master Studies TBH...I'll have to check it out and see what else he came up with.

The possible variations you can do with even a simple pattern like the one I used are endless. Altering orchestration is, of course, the next step; moving the accented notes around the kit.

~~ 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Cr|------------X---|
T1|o---------------|
T2|----o-----------|
sd|-ggO-g-gO--g----|
hh|------o---------|
Ft|---------oo-----|
bd|------------o---|
hf|-------x--------|



~~ 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Cr|------------X---|
T1|------o---------|
T2|---------o------|
sd|-ggO-g-gO--g----|
hh|O---O-----------|
Ft|----------o-----|
bd|o---o-------o---|
hf|-x---x----------|


etc. Again, all based upon the same accent pattern.
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Old 01-03-2010, 01:36 PM   #4
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Yeah, diddling ghost notes is something I have played with on and off for the past several years. This is good stuff, I incorporate stuff like this from time to time.
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:58 PM   #5
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A good way to jump right in to exactly this topic is just by practicing your roll rudiments. Fundimental building blocks of modern drumset playing.
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:04 AM   #6
Inkstar
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Great lesson! This is something I've been using in my playing for a while, but it came more naturally rather than consciously. It's great though, going through these exercises, because you see the thinking behind it, and how you can change the fill dramatically just by altering a few small things.

Thank you very much!
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:28 AM   #7
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Woah, Matty sighting!
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Old 04-18-2010, 02:39 PM   #8
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bump
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkstar View Post
Great lesson! This is something I've been using in my playing for a while, but it came more naturally rather than consciously. It's great though, going through these exercises, because you see the thinking behind it, and how you can change the fill dramatically just by altering a few small things.

Thank you very much!
No problem!
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Old 07-12-2010, 02:32 PM   #10
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I've been looking for a forum to ask around for some ideas and help being currently self taught and frustrated and this post alone has helped me so much. It's something I've always heard but never could quite comprehend what was happening due to jumping head first into playing by ear and a little bit of music reading.

You've helped me so much and I really appreciate it.

Last edited by auUaua; 07-12-2010 at 02:33 PM. Reason: small errors.
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Old 07-17-2010, 09:18 AM   #11
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No problem! Feel free to post here or in the main forum if you have any questions.
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