Monday, April 01, 2024

Beats to fills

Here's a connecter idea, using some rock beats written normally, a la Funky Primer, but playing them as cymbal accents with fills, as in this rock fill drill— hitting accents on the cymbal/bass drum, and filling in 8th notes on the snare and toms. 

That latter thing has been a regular part of my teaching for several years, usually starting with the 8th note accent pages in Syncopation. Those pages are a little dull though. This way will be better because a) the rhythms are more interesting, and b) it will give students some ideas about where to take an ordinary written-out rock beat. 

It's quite simple. For example, with beat number 4 from p. 13 of Funky Primer: 

You hit the bass drum/cymbal notes as crashes, supported with the bass drum, and hit the rest of the 8th notes on... some drums. Snare or toms, TBD later: 

With beat number 8: 

You would play: 

As exercises, you'd play those fill measures some different ways: 
  1. Right hand only 
  2. Left hand only
  3. Both hands in unison- two cymbals, two drums (or flams on one drum)
  4. Right hand on cymbal / left hand on drums
  5. Right hand on cymbal / both hands on drums
And the drum part could be played:
  1. On the snare drum.
  2. Moving around the drums in a set pattern you make up. 
  3. Moving around the drums freely.. 

Here's how you could play those in a two measure phrase— one measure of the written beat, one measure accents/fills:

Students get way too hung up on what cymbal or drum they should hit— in the second measure you can take the snare line to mean any drum, and the cymbal part to mean any cymbal. Keep it simple until you can play it, then get creative. You can follow sticking systems 1-5 above at first, then wing it. 

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