BY JOE SMYTH | FROM THE SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM!
Sometimes I’m grooving along, and I want to play a fill but not break up or interrupt the groove. I’d like to show you some fills I use to keep the eighth-note feel going and keep the backbeats on 2 and 4. All examples are preceded by three measures of groove.
Ex. 1 is the basic starting point of this concept. The bass drum and snare drum pattern continue the groove, while the toms “fill” over the top. I continue playing both backbeats (beats 2 and 4) during the fill with my left hand.
Ex. 2 incorporates a third tom. I start the fill with the left hand playing tom 1, the right hand playing the snare backbeat on beat 2. On beat 3, playing toms 2 and 4 with a double right-hand sticking allows the backbeat on beat 4 to be played with the left hand.
In Ex. 3-7, the fill begins with the right hand on tom 1. Play the first backbeat (beat 2) with the right hand, and the second backbeat (beat 4) with the left hand. Doing this allows you to crash with the right hand or get back to the hi-hat on the repeat.
In Ex. 3 and Ex. 4, I double the & of beat 1 on tom 1 to build a busier fill, while keeping the bass drum and snare drum grooving. In Ex. 5-7, I also double the tom notes on beat 3.
Finally, Ex. 8 shows an even more complex fill using this same concept. Both backbeats are played with the left hand. Be careful not to flam the tom and kick on beat 1. Try grooving through your own fills and add them to your groove toolbox.
JOE SMYTH is a founding member of the award-winning Sawyer Brown band, touring the world for the past 37 years. He also teaches drums and percussion at Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.