The Drums – Developing Simple Fills

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 68,825
    Expert drummer Wes Crawford breaks down advanced drum fills on the drum set.

    Wes Crawford

    Wes began his professional music career after graduating with a B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Tech. Soon thereafter, he began performing drumset with the extraordinary Jazz/R&B singer Jane L. Powell, a musical association that lasted eleven years and continues as a managerial relationship. The group toured throughout North America and the Caribbean performing at festivals, universities, resorts, nightclubs, and cruise ships. They opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, The Crusaders, Joan Jett, Ernie Watts, and Paula Poundstone, and occasionally performed alongside artists such as Tony Bennett, O.C. Smith, and Dorothy Moore. The 1,300 colleges and universities comprising the National Association for Campus Activities voted the group Entertainer of the Year in 1990, their highest honor, and Jazz Artist of the Year for 1990-1992. During these years of touring, Wes also recorded two albums with Ms. Powell as well as for several outside artists. Wes also conducted electronic percussion seminars at VA Tech and at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted. In 1992, Wes settled with his family in the Washington, DC area as an independent artist on drumset and percussion where he currently performs and records with acts such as Shahin & Sepehr (Higher Octave/Narada world music recording artists), Cocktail Nuts (aka “C-NUTS”- Jazz versions of rock classics, on Wildchild/Mapleshade Records), mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman (including a clinic at PASIC 2000 and a featured performance at Baltimore Drum Day 2000), Squeeze Bayou (1998 winners of the “Best Non-Louisiana-Based Cajun Band Recording” awarded by the Cajun French Music Association), and Night Life (high-energy show band). Wes has also regularly performed and/or recorded with Aisha Kahlil (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Eva Cassidy, Catalyst Events’ “Beatswork!,” Zydeco Crayz, Mary Ann Borelli, “Oh Susannah!”, Sugar Jones, and Armadillo recording artist Daryl Davis. His other noteworthy performances and recordings include those with the David Bach Consort (2nd place winner in the 1998 BET unsigned band video contest), Hennesy Jazz Search regional winner Jerry Gordon, and performances with Milestone recording artist Ron Holloway. Wes considers education to be an important link to the future of the percussive arts and teaches drumset privately and at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. He also performs in public school assemblies with Mosaic, which provided the musical instruction and curriculum for the 2000 Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Wes serves as the Director of the annual Drumset And Percussion Camp of the Goucher Summer Arts Institute and as Vice-President of the MD/DE chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 2000, Wes started MusicAndGames4U.com, a site to feature his interactive educational media such as his popular “Drumset Play-Along DVD.” His latest “A Rhythmic Murder Mystery” interactive DVD features a solo electronic drumset concert, which he also performs live. Wes holds Associate Artist relationships with Maryland Drum Company and with Trueline Drumsticks, and he occasionally works as Music Consultant for the not-for-profit Sustainable Environments for Health + Shelter.

    Wes Crawford: Hello! I am Wes Crawford and now we are going to look at some more advanced fills utilizing what weve learned so far. So, the way I am going to do this, I am going to give examples, Ill tell what I am going to do, Ill play one measure of a beat and then do the fill. So, right now we are going to do one measure fills and then I will go back to the beat to show how you get back. So, one of the problems drummers have to confront is how do you get out of your fill and back to your beat very smoothly. So, this is important to notice too.

    First, I am going to show you an example of a fill using quarter notes then eighth notes, then sixteenth notes. So, we are going to show how the different subdivisions can sound, each for one measure. Here comes quarter notes.

    1 2 3 4Next, well do eighth notes and Ill move those in a different way around the drum set.

    As you see on my fill I went 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 2 3 4. Notice we are playing eighth notes on the hi hat so you can keep counting eighth notes.

    1 and 2 and 3 and 4 andNow, well try sixteenth notes.

    Noticed that time I went 1 2 3 4, 1.

    .

    e and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 4.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 1 2 3 4So, when I am counting the numbers the 1, 2, 3 and 4 are constant, 1 2 3 4, 1.

    .

    e and a.

    . 2.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 3.

    .

    e.

    . and a.

    . 4.

    .

    e.

    . and 1 so, all stays constant.

    Now, lets look at some of the different stickings or the order that we hit our hands and see how things can vary with those.

    We have been doing single stroke so far so I move around for single strokes one more time.

    See I changed the speed that I was hitting but I use single strokes, I always alternate it, lets try double strokes.

    Same thing, I used double strokes, but I changed the speed of them in the middle.

    Lets try paradiddles and well do them at sixteenths and well move from one tom to another but keep the left-hand on the snare, just as a further example.

    See, a much more complex pattern, sonic pattern developed just because we did this more complex sticking.

    Well now do three-stroke patterns and at the end well change it up just a little bit to make it fit right. You always have to make these fit right.

    See, we played them at sixteenth notes, if we had 16 sixteenth notes in the fill and we had a three-stroke pattern, three goes into 16 five times, so weve played that pattern five times with one remainder. So, I hit one extra snare drum hit as a sixteenth node at the end. These are the kinds of calculations you must make as you do fills.

    Rests are also very important. So, lets do some silence, so far every fill I have done has been constant notes and that can be too much. We want to create more interesting rhythms and more drama sometimes with rests. Ill give you a few examples.

    These are just a few examples, there are millions of combinations now that we have different stickings, now we can use rest to create all kinds of rhythms and you can even use dynamics, loudness and softness, and well talk about that later.