01 Feb, 2016

How Do You Land Your Fills?


A great way to increase your repertoire of drum fills is to transcribe your favourite drummers and try voicing their fills in different ways around the kit. One of my favourite bands of all time is Earth, Wind & Fire and I spent a good amount of time when I was younger copying their drummers in this way.

I noticed their drummers Maurice White, Ralph Johnson and Fred White would often "land" their fills on semi-open hi-hats, rather than a crash cymbal. This way they would reduce cymbal spillage, giving the fill a definite end with a tight sound. I love doing this, and it's perfect for soul, funk and R&B drumming.

You can hear Fred White use this technique on on The Emotions' hit "Best Of My Love" from the album Rejoice. Here The Emotions have teamed up with Earth, Wind & Fire to create pop perfection. Fred White keeps pretty much to a 4-bar loop for the whole song except the bridge, and this loop is finished off with a classic soul fill landing on the hats on beat 1 (Figure 1).

Figure 1

You can hear Gene Chrisman playing the same fill 8 seconds into Aretha Franklin's "Respect" only he lands on the crash cymbal (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Notice the different impact this has to the overall sound. Use the three variations (#a-c) on different grooves and see what effect it has. Also try landing on the hats after different fills to see how it changes the feeling of what you play. It's really exciting to see how small changes can effect your personal sound.

Can you think of any great examples of drummers "landing" their fills in different ways? I'd love for you to let me know by commenting below or getting in touch on Facebook and Twitter. Try making a practice video of you playing the "Best of My Love" fill and upload it to the Drumadiddle Facebook page with the hashtag #OffTheRecord. Until next time keep it funky!