What Is A Fill?

Some notes on what a fill is, how they are used and some recomended lessons for getting started.

A fill is a break in a groove pattern that can be used to add colour to a part or to identify changes within the piece. They can be built of rolls around the kit using various note values, rhythmic patterns using crashes and/or toms, changes in groove along with many other ideas you will learn in upcoming lessons.

On our fills menu in each level you will see various different categories. In level 1 we have a whole bunch of introductory lessons to teach you some simple fills, how to transition from groove to fill and ideas for fill placement. Level 0 focuses on the basics of constructing fills and fill placement. In every level there will be a 'fill concepts' section which are lessons that teach you new ideas for fill construction and placement. There will also be a 'rudiment based fills' section which teaches you how to use rudiments you have learned previously to create awesome new parts. Most levels will have lessons teaching you about playing fills in different time signatures which show unique things you can do within specific time signatures as well as ideas for applying different concepts. Different levels may have unique topics, such as accent fills, adding feet, syncopated fills and many others. These areas take a specific concept and explore what different things you can do with it.

Structure plays an important part in our fills lessons so it is important to read our Song Structure and Sectional Structure lessons before starting these lessons. In most fill concepts lessons you will be given the task 'apply these patterns to a phrased example'. This means use the new fill in an A B, A A A B or similar structure as the 'B' part.

Another area you will be spending a lot of time on here is fill length. Fills don't always fill up a whole bar, in fact they can take up any amount of space. We have provided examples of full bar fills (where the fill lasts 4 beats in 4/4), half bar fills (where the fill takes up 2 beats in a bar of 4/4), quarter bar fills (where the fill takes up 1 beat in a bar of 4/4) and three quarter bar fills (where the fill takes up 3 beats in a bar of 4/4). This element of playing fills is very important but very quickly becomes second nature.

The ultimate aim of our level 0 introductory fills lessons is to show the purpose of fills and to start introducing them into your playing, whilst doing that you will learn more about structure and why it is important.

I would recommend starting with our Fill Placement lesson then working through the other introductory fills lesson in any order. Once you are comfortable with the basic exercises given in this section move on to some fill concepts lessons and start applying new ideas to what you have covered here.

Good luck!