Difficulty LevelFor this free drum lesson I thought I’d take a look at a drum fill from the song Apocalypse Please by Muse, drummed by Dominic Howard. At first listen, the drum lick doesn’t sound that complicated but it’s when you start to work out the sticking and then try and play it up to speed that the true greatness of this drum fill starts to emerge.

This drum fill should help to prove to drummers just how useful, exciting and fun the drum rudiments can be when used in a musical context, so lets now take a look at just how and why…


Apocalypse Please” – Free Video Drum Fill Drum Lesson

View the video on YouTube HERE – Learn How To Play Drums Apocalypse Please Video Drum Lesson (Muse & Dominic Howard)


Apocalypse Please” – Drum Fill (0:25 Album Version)

Apocalypse Please Drum Fill Notation (Dominic Howard & Muse)

So this is the drum fill that gets repeated a few times throughout the song. It’s only two beats long (starting on beat 3 of bar 1) and is played through sixteenth note triplets. Six notes are counted in every beat of the bar.

Dominic Howard plays a flammed rudiment for the first three notes of beat 3. A flammed note followed by two more notes. He then moves up to the high tom and repeats the pattern. The last six notes of the bar are played as single strokes and move up and down the snare drum and tom toms.

The drum fill itself isn’t very complicated but sounds great. The tricky part is really playing the flams smoothly within a single stroke roll and there are many ways that a drummer can play this. Lets take a look at the way I would play it first.

I play this three note flam lick as a Left Hand Flam Triplet. I’m not sure on the exact name for this but I’ve heard Gavin Harrison call it this so that’s good enough for me 🙂

Essentially, a left hand flam is played followed by two single strokes. Because all the strokes (including the flams) are alternating sticking (RLRL) the lick is really easy to play fast.

Next, lets take a look at some alternative versions of the sticking so that you have a few options yourself…


Apocalypse Please” – Alternative Sticking

Apocalypse Please Alternative Sticking Drum Fill Notation (Dominic Howard & Muse)

You can try out each of these stickings in order to determine which works best for you but you might also like to learn each for their own sake. I certainly try to practice each of these stickings within my practice time as each offers a slightly different sound around the kit. Just take my word for it and give them all a go!

The first example shows the opposite sticking to my preferred method. This uses the Right Hand Flam Triplet, simply the opposite sticking to the Left Hand Flam Triplet. This sticking might not work all too well with this song though because it ends on the right hand and the right hand is need for the next section of the drum fill. It’s not impossible to use though.

Example 2 shows the sticking to an official Drum Rudiment, the Flam Accent. This sticking uses both the Right and Left Hand Flam Triplet and simply alternates between the two of them. This feels great once you get it going.

The last two examples show the Flammed Swiss Triplets where the hands essentially play doubles with a flam where the two doubles meet. This was a favourite with the great drummer Tony Williams! Either the right handed version (example 3) or the left handed version (example 4) can be used but Example 4 also ends on the right hand and so can be a little tricky getting out of into the next section.

I hope you found this lesson fun and useful and I’ll see you next time!


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