Warren Cann's Drum Column (Part 10)
Drum Fill-Ins introduced
This month our Electro-drum consultant Warren Cann of Ultravox finishes basic off-beat variations and moves on to the important topic of Fill-Ins.
This rhythm takes the essential elements of pattern 53 in my last column (E&MM Sept '83) and it reverses them. It's worthwhile trying this with all of the variations - change them around, turn them back to front, change the orders of them and you'll often be surprised with the effects that you come up with. It uses the snare drum on the off-beat again. It might seem like a similar effect, but you really must experiment and rely on your own judgement which is best to use in a fast up-tempo passage - choosing snare drum on the on-beat or the off-beat. Sometimes it's only a matter of taste and one is really just as good as the other.
I think it is now time I covered some basic fills (or fill-ins, as some people call them). For starters, there's a very basic disco beat to try out: 4's on the bass drum and 2 and 4's on the snare drum, plus 8's on the hi-hat. It'll start off with one measure on the straight beat and then the fill-in will come at the end of the second measure. After that it's used at the end of every two measures.
It's usual when you do a fill-in that you end on the down beat and again it's usual to end on a cymbal crash to punctuate the fill-in. This can change according to circumstances - sometimes for the sake of the song you might be better not hitting your cymbal at the end of your roll or fill-in, it's totally up to you to consider the context of how the fill is being used.
Sometimes you might want to start the fill with a crash and then end with one. It really just depends, because there are thousands and thousands of fill-ins, and part of the fun of doing them is trying to make up your own. There are 'standard' ones - that makes it sound very mechanical - but you find certain fills work very well for you and you tend to sometimes use them to punctuate chord changes or other parts of the song.
You also have to find the balance between a punctuation or an underlining. In some cases it won't be desirable to have a huge exclamation point, because then that's overdoing it. Again, it's a matter of balance and this is something that you only learn from experience. As you formulate your own taste you also develop your own style.
As I progress with these examples, they will become more involved and more intricate, but for Fill-In No. 1, I will start off with a very simple roll on the snare drum, ending with the crash on the down beat:
For the second fill-in I'm starting at a basic level and working my way up. This one is not a fill that you want to repeat as often as I have done because it becomes almost more of a beat then anything else. It is just a slight variation going 'bupp, bupp, bupp', leading up into the downbeat like a little 'build' rather than a roll - a small build-up leading to a crash.
I have combined parts of the first two and made it a little more complicated. This is actually the basic principle of taking fill-ins - you get little bits from others and by juggling them in certain combinations you arrive at something more interesting or different from the building-blocks that you used in the first place:
Next we will look at 'roll' fills. Enjoy your drumming!
Feature by Warren Cann