Free Drum Lesson: Intermediate Lesson 2 – Sixteenth Drum Fills and Licks

This lesson will be looking at drum fills based around Sixteenth notes. These drum fills are more advanced than the ones found in the Basic Drum Fills lesson. If you are not familiar or have difficulty playing the fills from the Basic Drum Fills lesson then I recommend you spend some time going over these first.

All the initial fills have the hands written beneath them (R for right hand, L for left hand) and the counting over the top. Remember that the suggested sticking (the hands used to perform the fill) are merely that; suggestions. It is up to you to experiment with different hand combinations.

These fills should be learnt off by heart (if possible) so that when used you aren’t having to think about it so much. This allows you thinking time to be considering the more important questions, i.e. what fill to play and where to place it.

Once each fill has been mastered it is up to you to perform them with varying drum beats and this is explained fully at the end of the lesson.

Three Sixteenth Note Rhythmic Groups

Within a group of four Sixteenth notes there exist four variations of three Sixteenth notes in a row.

For example, the first three of the four Sixteenth notes could be played and the last Sixteenth note rested. The first Sixteenth note could be rested and the last three played and so on.

The following examples show all four permutations of three Sixteenth note groupings. The first bar on the left shows how it would be written using Sixteenth notes and Sixteenth note rests only. The second bar shows how these rhythmic groups are usually written using a combination of Sixteenth and Eighth notes/rests.

I recommend that you try the suggested sticking first as this is the most efficient way of moving the figures around the drums without losing the downbeat. All “e” and “a” notes are played with the left hand allowing the hands to flow from upbeat rhythms back to the downbeat more easily. The right hand is always free to play the downbeat.

First, Second and Third Sixteenth Note Rhythmic Figure

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

In order to play this rhythmic figure correctly the last Sixteenth note on the “a” of each beat needs to be rested (skipped).

Second, Third and Fourth Sixteenth Note Rhythmic Figure

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

The first Sixteenth note is rested which means the left hand starts this figure. Be careful you don’t lose a sense of where each beat falls.

First, Third and Fourth Sixteenth Note Rhythmic Figure

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

This is a very popular rhythmic figure with the “e” (second note) rested. Using the suggested sticking means the right hand is free for the next downbeat.

First, Second and Fourth Sixteenth Note Rhythmic Figure

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Be careful that the two upbeat Sixteenth notes (e and a) are not stretched and pulled out of position.

Rhythmic Figures In Context As Drum Fills

This next section will be showing you how to play these rhythmic figures as drum fills.

A simple drum beat has been written leading into each drum fill but eventually you will want to use your own drum grooves instead of the basic beat shown.

Each example is written as two bars, the first bar shows the fill on the snare drum while the second bar shows an example of how you might move the figure around the drum kit.

Try mastering the figure on the snare drum first before attempting to move the fill around the drums. There is a real risk, especially with some of the more complicated rhythms, that the rhythmic figure will be distorted when you try and move your hands around the drums.

Rhythmic Figures In Context As Drum Fills Starting On Beat 4

These four are written starting on Beat 4 of the bar and so last just one beat of the bar.

Drum Fill 1

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 2

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 3

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 4

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Rhythmic Figures In Context As Drum Fills Starting On Beat 3

These four are written starting on Beat 3 of the bar and so last just two beats of the bar.

Drum Fill 1

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 2

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 3

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 4

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Mixing Things Up

This next section shows some of the many possible ways that the four rhythmic figures can be put together into interesting combinations.

There simply isn’t room in this lesson to write out all the different combinations, or indeed, write out drum fills lasting more than two beats. It’s up to you to try different combinations and to lengthen the number of beats the fill lasts.

Again, the first bar shows the rhythmic figure written on the snare and the second how it could be orchestrated around the drums.

Drum Fill 1

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 2

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 3

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 4

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 5

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 6

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 7

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Fill 8

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Practice Suggestion

In order to learn how to use these drum fills properly you need to be able perform them with different drum beats. It’s no good being to play a drum fill on its own if you then can’t play it with various drum beats.

I suggest that you take each of the drum beats from the Basic Drum Beat or Intermediate Drum Beat lesson found on this site and carefully play each beat with each of the drum fills written here. Yes I know, that’s A LOT of variations but then you should want to play lots of variations; it’s no good being a one trick pony or, in this case, a one groove drummer!

To start off with you want to practice playing the whole bar of the chosen drum beat once and then on the repeat of the bar insert the chosen drum fill onto the end. Simply play this two bar groove around and around without stopping until it is comfortable and effortless. You can then speed it up if desired.

As an example of what I mean I have taken Drum Fill 8 and placed it with Drum Beat 8 (Eighth Notes on the Hi-Hat) from the Intermediate Drum Beat lesson and shown you it below.

Drum Beat & Fill Suggestion 1

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Note that the drum beat has two bass drum notes on the “e” and “a” of Beat 2, as the drum fill doesn’t start until beat 3 these bass drum notes are still played in the second bar. The drum fill simply replaces beats 3 and 4 of the groove and nothing before it.

Drum Beat & Fill Suggestion 2

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

This time I’m using Drum Beat 13 (Quarter notes on the Hi-Hat) from the Intermediate Drum Beats lesson and Drum Fill 6.

Drum Beat & Fill Suggestion 3

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Drum Beat 14 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat ostinato) and Drum Fill 3.

Drum Beat & Fill Suggestion 4

Sixteenth Note Drum Fills And Licks

Finally, this is Drum Beat 16 (Eighth notes) from the Intermediate Drum Beats lesson and Drum Fill 2.

Conclusion

The next step is to play each drum fill at the end of four bars of drum beat and then eight bars and so on. The idea being that you are then able to “drop” drum fills into drum beats after any amount of time, or more importantly, when the music requires it.

Some of these drum fills are tricky to play due to the way they move around the downbeat. You will find that learning these four rhythmic figures is going to enable you to hear upbeat Sixteenth notes much easier and as a consequence help you not to lose the pulse or downbeat of the bar when performing.

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