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Placement of fills...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by rollyolly, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. rollyolly


    Nov 10, 2011
    I've been thinking about this a lot lately since I'm new to playing with others. When jamming with a drummer, is it generally best to place fills at the same time as a drum fill? It seems like this would be the best time, otherwise there could potentially be too many fills in one "bar" of music, making it sound to busy and disorganized?

    Also, is there a general consensus among musicians as to which parts of a song are a good place for fills?

    I know this can vary wildly depending on type of music. Right now I'm playing some jazz/funk/soul stuff that generally has two sections, then starts over from the top. Would it be best to place fills at the end, to put an emphasis on returning to the top?

  2. My general rule of thumb is 'less is more'. I usually find the ends of phrase cycles to be good spots to add a little embellishment. I also like to keep the fundamental parts very solid and consistent which helps make even small embellishments stand out.

    There are also ways to add subtle variation within the fundamental phrases so that they still sound consistent, but not static. It's all about paying attention to what is going on at the time and staying out of the way of the singer or whomever is taking a solo or feature at the time but also picking up on rhythmic and melodic statemtents.

    Connect with your drummer, listen to everyone, stay out of the way when anyone is singing or soloing and pick your moments - mark the cycles - and try (above all) to be solid and consistent throughout the entire song. Don't let your fills trip you up.
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Who else is doing fills? You mentioned the drummer, how about the lead electric, what about the keyboard.

    Nothing worse than taking off on a fill, or run, half a beat after someone else has started their run. All that has to be worked out in rehearsals.

    Ditto, to less is more until you know what everyone else is going to be doing. Root on one, a steady beat, call attention to the chord change and do not step on toes.

    As to the placement - the song dictates where. It's a feel thing.
  4. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    Very good replies ... thanks ... I like to use simple fills to create natural motion that lead the others into chord changes, choruses, etc ...
  5. repoman


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    This may sound rather simplistic but wouldn't anything other than the "root on one" be considered a fill?
    ...and if not than what would be considered a fill?
  6. well you got a bass line that has a set rhythm and a certain melodic voicing that is consistent throughout many bars and when you change that for a quick period of time as an effect ie to emphasize something (like the end of a phrase) thats what id call a fill.
    not to be confused with variation
  7. My rule of thumb is to definitely not overplay when the singer is singing or the lead guitarist is playing a solo. My job there is to support. I limit my fills to transitions like verse to chorus, verse to bridge, etc. Every song is different, but I generally like to keep my fills simple yet dynamic, if that makes any sense.
  8. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    imho a musical performance is a conversation, a dialog, a mutual exchange of ideas, that requires cooperation with everyone in the ensemble. So presuming you're already all adhering to the Do The Right Thing maxim -- which tends to dictate the role of each instrument based on context and genre...that should be your primary goal -- the placement of fills simply depends on how well you're communicating with your bandmates.

    You could place your fills in the same spot as the drummer...if you're communicating well and it makes musical sense to deviate from the groove synchronously

    You could place your fills in a totally different spot from the drummer (eg, Call & Response, or filling in one another's holes)...if you're communicating well and it makes musical sense to deviate from the groove asynchronously

    Simultaneity does not have to equal Cacaphony
    Nor does Phrase Hocketing
    ...it just depends on whether or not you're all sensetive to the collective musical results.