Spice Up Your Fills: Applying the Augmentation Concept

Spice Up Your Fills: Applying the Augmentation Concept

This blog and free drum lesson shows you a way to spice up your fills by applying the augmentation concept.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, you know, the whole thing about getting more out of stuff you already know? Well, it’s true! There’s so much juice you can squeeze out of things you already have in your toolbox (yes, I’ve just mixed metaphors).

If you’re not convinced by this idea, think of the licks that you already know, and how long it’s taken you to make them truly yours. They’ve been filtered through your “style filter” and personality, having practiced and played them countless times. Now think how easy it would be to change one aspect of this stuff and make it totally fresh; sounds great, right? The best part is that it will still sound like you, as you’re not reinventing the wheel.

The concept we’re going to apply here is augmentation; it’s easy to understand and apply. As the name suggests, it refers to adding something extra in order to, in this context, beef it up. So, we’re going to take a couple of linear ideas that I like, and augment them by doubling up a bass drum note. This will make them sound more “impressive”, but more importantly to help expand our phrasing.

Note that the examples in this article are a couple of phrases in my toolbox. Incorporate this idea into your own phrases, that’s the whole point here. That said, do feel free to learn the examples in the PDF, of course!

Now, allow me to be old and boring for a second here but, remember, never play something just for the sake of it. Be purposeful and make wise choices; both audiences and band mates will thank you for it.

So! Go ahead, use this free drum lesson and spice up your fills applying the augmentation concept. Download the PDF below.

If you liked this article, my new book, Concepts: A Guide to Essential Processes for the Modern Drummer is all about this. If you’re interested, please check it out and get yourself a copy HERE!

Thank you,

Nick x

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SPICE UP YOUR FILLS WITH AUGMENTATION PDF

Developing Phrasing Ideas Part 2

Developing Phrasing Ideas Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of this free drum lesson about developing phrasing ideas using doubles on the bass drum over double strokes.

Like the exercises in Part 1, these are based on the concept of permutation, which gives us lots of practical mileage as it’s very multifunctional. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, you can read more about it in my new book Concepts or dive deep into it with David Garibaldi’s Future Sounds.

Getting stuck in you will 

  • Create fun and interesting grooves and licks
  • Gain a deeper understanding of hand / foot interplay
  • Develop increased control of hand and foot technique, time, and general co-ordination

Let’s do this

We’ll start where we left off by mixing things up, and combine patterns together to further explore possibilities. Check out Examples 1 and 2 to give you an idea, then come up with your own.

In Examples 3 and 4 we’ll use a 32nd note rate to play the same ideas, and explore the phrasing ideas developed in the context of a groove. This will help us achieve a Steve Gadd-like vibe or, depending how you choose to orchestrate your ideas, Gospel style chops.

As usual pay attention to your time, technique, and co-ordination. Remember to start slowly (perhaps 70BPM), to get the full benefit.

If you’ve enjoyed this free drum lesson, please share with other drummers!

Thank you,

Nick x

Don’t forget

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Receive £5 off your first lesson when you subscribe to my Newsletter (see the footer of the home page).

Head over to the lovely folks at Bell Percussion for all your drum gear needs and wants!

DEVELOPING PHRASING IDEAS PT.2 PDF

Developing Phrasing Ideas Part 1

Developing Phrasing Ideas Part 1

In this free drum lesson, I discuss developing phrasing ideas using “double” bass drum strokes over double strokes.

It’s a while since I last posted, so I wanted to share with you something I’ve been playing about with, which has been loads of fun (download the free PDF below).

The exercises below are based on the concept of permutation, which I’m a big fan of as I find it very multifunctional. As a result, we can squeeze lots of juice out of a simple idea in using it. If you’re not familiar with the permutation, read about it in my new book Concepts or dive deep into it with David Garibaldi’s Future Sounds.

By working through these exercises, I hope you not only come up with fun and interesting grooves and licks, but in the process, gain a deeper understanding of hand / foot interplay. Similarly, by practicing these, you’ll develop increased control of hand and foot technique, as well as your time, and general co-ordination; things I’ve benefited from in doing these.

Let’s do this

The exercise is simple; I’ve taken 16th note double strokes, and replaced two note values with bass drums, which I’ve then permuted by a 16th note at a time.

It goes without saying that you should pay attention to your time, technique, and co-ordination, starting slowly (perhaps 70BPM), to get the full benefit. Yet, spend time with each exercise to be aware of the rhythms you generate with the snare drum, bass drum, and the interplay of both.

Play these on the snare drums first, and then start exploring the exercise around the kit.

Next month, I’ll post Part II.

If you’ve enjoyed this free drum lesson, please share with other drummers!

Thank you,

Nick x

Don’t forget

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter for more content.

Receive £5 off your first lesson when you subscribe to my Newsletter (see the footer of the home page).

Head over to the lovely folks at Bell Percussion for all your drum gear needs and wants!

DEVELOPING PHRASING IDEAS PT.1 PDF

My Drumming Roots

My Drumming Roots

In this article, we explore how to find your drumming roots.

I decided to get introspective and go about finding my drumming roots are to trace my lineage; my drumming family tree, if you will. Now, of course, I know who my favourite drummers are! But I wanted to look deeply into my earliest influences would shed a light into how these had an impact on my perception of rhythm, phrasing and groove.

In order to do this, I had chat with the person responsible for introducing me to music that influenced and inspired me at the earliest stages of my life; my mum. And, before we get going, it’s worth mentioning that I was born in 1983, which will help contextualise everything below.

MY DRUMMING ROOTS: 1980s & EARLY 1990s

During this period mum introduced me to some great artists and bands of a variety of different genres. Among these were Queen, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Phil Collins, John Denver, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, and KC & The Sunshine Band.

Hal Blaine (Elvis Presley)

It wasn’t actually until researching this article that I realised the impact that he’s in my life and where he fit in my drumming roots. Hal, who was part of the famous Wrecking Crew collective of session musicians in the 60s, played on most of the records that mum exposed me to. In retrospect, the take-away lesson from Hal was that, no matter who he was playing with, he played what the song and artist required of him.

Ringo Starr (The Beatles)

The Beatles were my first favourite band; they probably still are – everything about them was catchy, and sounded great. Reflecting back on it, Ringo taught me that the drums could not only drive a song, but could also be catchy and a hook. In this context, a grooves don’t always have to have a solid back beat on 2 and 4. He taught me to appreciate the drums as a musically expressive instrument more than just a time keeper.

Roger Taylor (Queen)

At the time, my knowledge of Queen extended only to the Greatest Hits records that were out at the time. Roger Taylor’s massive drum tones, feel, and songwriter approach to his parts were integral to the songs. In addition to this, how he chose to accent the back beat with slightly opened hi hats, like on Somebody To Love made a big impact on me.

Ralph Jones (Bill Haley & His Comets)

Listening to Bill Hayley’s music, there was an innocence to it particular to the 50’s with a rebellious streak that packed a punch. At the time rock ’n’ roll grooves were still being played swung over straight eighth guitar riffs, such as Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On and Jailhouse Rock. And yet, what captivated me about Jones was his snare sound on those records, and his feel, and those killer snare rolls. His playing also taught me about using the bass drums as a means to accent notes rather than just provide a steady pulse.

MY DRUMMING ROOTS: MID 1990s

With my drumming roots firmly planted, by the mid 1990s I was bit more aware of the world, myself as a person and already playing guitar for a couple of years. I was on my own journey of musical discovery. Important bands that I started discovering, in no particular order, were Dire Straits, Faith No More, Criminal, Megadeth, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Metallica and Cannibal Corpse, but the earliest ones from this period were as follows.

Dave Grohl (Nirvana)

My first instrument was actually the guitar, so the focus of my musical foundations was more global than instrument-specific. I viewed songs as the sum of their parts with every component being as valuable as the other. With Nirvana writing such elegantly simple songs, Dave Grohl showed me that drum tracks needed to have energy; playing with intent and power. That keeping it simple is sometimes the best policy.

Lars Ulrich (Metallica)

As for both my drumming roots and music development, Metallica are still one of those bands that I hold dear in my heart. I’m a huge fan of all their studio albums except, really, for Reload and St. Anger… With that in mind, Lars’ drum sounds, feel, grooves and fills made a huge impact on me. They complimented James Hetfield’s riffs flawlessly. Looking at the song-writing credits on their albums, Ulrich was right next to Hetfield, teaching me about partnerships and working with other musicians to draw the best out of a song. Yet more specifically, on a style level, Lars taught me all about landing on 1 but crashing on 2 with the snare. Signature stuff, and so effective!

Billy Cobham

Ok, so I was a bit of a late starter as a drummer, but as a kid, my cousin introduced me to Billy Cobham’s 1973 album Spectrum. This has got to give me some credibility as a drummer, I hope! The drums on that album were fast, furious, yet had a tribal feel about them. Their tone was open and natural, and the music was syncopated. But, beyond this, the album introduced me to odd time signatures early on. And because of this, and the fact that this stuff was never explained to me as a kid, odd time signatures were never about odd time signatures, but about feel and how music could flow in different ways.

Matt Cameron (Soundgarden)

Before Wikipedia was a CD version of the internet called Microsoft Encarta. On the ’95 edition, which we had, if you searched for “Rock music” or “Electric guitar”, you’d get some audio samples from a couple bands. One of these was Soundgarden’s track Nothing To Say” from 1988’s Screaming Life / Fopp. The sample was only 30 seconds long or so… But that slow, brooding groove, the grace notes, off-kilter accents over the dark riffs and soaring vocals became a big part of my drumming roots.

Conclusion

Finding my drumming roots has been a great exercise, and a fun one at that! It’s let me revisit great memories, and given me a better understanding of myself as a drummer. I would totally encourage you to do the same if you haven’t. If you’re interested in listening to the albums that I refer to above see the list below then check ‘em out on Spotify, Apple Music or preferred music streaming service.

Albums

The Beatles Help (1964), Rubber Soul (1965), Anthology 2 (1996), Beatles For Sale (1964), Live At The BBC (1994) – Drums: Ringo Starr

Phil Collins … But Seriously (1989) – Drums: Phil Collins

Dire Straits On Every Street (1991) – Drums: Jeff Porcaro, Manu Katché

Pearl Jam Ten (1991) – Drums: Dave Krusen, Vs. (1993) – Drums: Dave Abbruzzese

Nirvana Nevermind (1991) – Drums: Dave Grohl, Bleach (1989) – Drums: Chad Channing, Dale Grover

Soundgarden Screaming Life / Fopp (1990), Superunknown (1994) – Drums: Matt Cameron

Billy Cobham Spectrum (1973) – Drums: Billy Cobham

Megadeth Countdown To Extinction (1991), Youthanasia (1994) – Drums: Nick Menza

Queen Greatest Hits I (1981), Greatest Hits II (1991) – Drums: Roger Taylor

Metallica Master Of Puppets (1986), Metallica (1991) – Drums: Lars Ulrich

Bill Haley & His Comets Greatest Hits (N/A) – Drums: Ralph Jones

Criminal Victimzed (1994) – Drums: J.J. Vallejo

Drum Lesson: Get More Out Of Your Triplets Part 3

Drum Lesson: Get More Out Of Your Triplets Part 3

Core Skills
Timing: You should aim to explore the accuracy of your strokes, ensuring that the rhythms are clear and performed cleanly.

Motion: Be aware of your movements! Moving these rhythms around the drum set might involve motions that you’re not used to, so take the time to understand this. Smooth motions will have a positive impact on your timing!

Fluidity and creativity: By exploring different ways of applying these triplets, you will open up new possibilities to incorporate into your fills and grooves. Mix your creative output with these triplets with eighth or sixteenth note phrases to loosen your fluidity, and spice things up.

Each example in these articles are just that: examples. Exercise your creative muscle further by coming up with your own versions. The same applies with the orchestration of each example; orchestrate as you like!

How To Practice These

  • Practice each example slowly, and build speed when you’ve achieved fluid quality
  • Start first on the snare drum until you’re comfortable, then orchestrate as you please
  • Turn each idea into a 4-bar phrase.
  • Also try playing 4 bars of a groove, and 4 bars of the ideas
  • Play simple time, and try using shuffle grooves
  • Create your own rhythmic variations of each example
  • Focus, and explore this in detail

DOWNLOAD THE PDF

Drum Lesson: Get More Out Of Your Triplets Part 2

Drum Lesson: Get More Out Of Your Triplets Part 2

Core Skills

Timing: You should aim to explore the accuracy of your strokes, ensuring that the rhythms are clear and performed cleanly.

Motion: Be aware of your movements! Moving these rhythms around the drum set might involve motions that you’re not used to, so take the time to understand this. Smooth motions will have a positive impact on your timing!

Fluidity and creativity: By exploring different ways of applying these triplets, you will open up new possibilities to incorporate into your fills and grooves. Mix your creative output with these triplets with eighth or sixteenth note phrases to loosen your fluidity, and spice things up.

Each example in these articles are just that: examples. Exercise your creative muscle further by coming up with your own versions. The same applies with the orchestration of each example; orchestrate as you like!

How To Practice These

  • Practice each example slowly, and build speed when you’ve achieved fluid quality

  • Start first on the snare drum until you’re comfortable, then orchestrate as you please

  • Turn each idea into a 4-bar phrase.

  • Also try playing 4 bars of a groove, and 4 bars of the ideas

  • Play simple time, and try using shuffle grooves

  • Create your own rhythmic variations of each example

  • Focus, and explore this in detail

DOWNLOAD THE PDF