One Bar Eighth Note Syncopated 233 Fills

Constructing fills using simple syncopation within an eighth note pattern.

In this lesson you will be using a very simple syncopated idea to construct one bar eighth note fills. All of these fills will follow the same basic rhythmic idea but I will present a few different orchestrations and ideas, allowing many different fills to be constructed from this one basic concept.

Through the bar you will be emphasizing, or accenting, a '233' style rhythm where these numbers refer to groups of eighth notes. This rhythm is very common and you will come across it in many different forms throughout your playing. This rhythm is shown in the bars below.

On the left you have straight eight notes with three accents placed within the bar. The lines above the top are 'phrase markings' and are often used when the grouping of notes doesn't fall as you'd expect it to within a bar, which is a key feature of syncopation. In this case the first and sed second groupings cover three eighth notes and the last grouping just two. To the right is the rhythm the accents create.

The basic syncopated rhythm for these fills.

Before moving onto some orchestrations, make sure you understand what is happening with this basic rhythm. All of the examples below are based on this but not always in ways you might expect.

Straight Rolls

The most simple orchestration idea for this rhythm is to move it around different drums as we have done in many rudiment orchestrations. A few examples of this are shown below.

Orchestrating around the kit. Orchestrating around the kit. Orchestrating around the kit. Orchestrating around the kit.

Snares And Cymbals

A very commong version of these fills is to play snares and crashes on the accents then fill in the remaining eighth notes with bass drums. This highlights the rhythm of the '233' pattern whilst maintaining a constant eight note feel. Variations within this pattern are limited but you can play around with using different combinations of cymbals. China cymbals work particularly well here.

Using snares and crashes. Using snares and crashes. Using snares and crashes.

Reverse The Previous Orchestration

Another common idea is to take the idea used above and flip it around. So you will play the '233' rhythm on the kick and fill the remaining eighths with a snare and crash. This can add to the syncopation as the notes that should be accented end up actually being a little bit weaker. Again, orchestrations are limited but experiment with using as many different cymbal combinations are you can think of to find the sounds that work for you.

Using snares and crashes. Using snares and crashes. Using snares and crashes.

Kick And Crashes

This orchestration will be similar to the two above but now you will play the '233' rhythm on a bass drum and cymbal then fill in the eighths with snares.

Using kicks and cymbals. Using kicks and cymbals. Using kicks and cymbals.

Moving The Left Hand In The Previous Orchestration

Finally I'll show you a slightly more difficult construction idea. This time you will be taking the orchestration concept shown above but the left hand is going to move around the kit within the rhythm. This isn't quite as hard as it sounds but creates some cool sounding patterns. This idea can really be applied to any of the orchestration ideas above, even those where snares are played with crashes.

Moving the left hand. Moving the left hand. Moving the left hand.


  • Learn all examples upto a tempo of at least 120bpm.
  • Experiment with different ideas within each construction idea and try combining different versions within the bar.
  • Add each example into one of the structures we have covered previously.