Last time we looked further at using single strokes with a range of examples and exercises designed to get us used to placing accents into the rolls along with playing the accents on either toms or cymbals. This time we’re going to tie up our brief look at singles with some easy ways to create fresh sounding, improvised fills. Taking what we looked at last time, we know that we can place the accents on any of the notes in a group of four sixteenths, which we can then orchestrate around the kit. Once we’re used to doing this, we can then start to think about these, not as single-beat phrases, but as fills placing the accents anywhere we like in the bar. If we look at the bar as a whole, there is massive scope for creating fills using this method, accenting any number of the sixteen notes in any combination.
Here we start off very simply, with a bar of single strokes played in 1sixteenth notes on snare drum, without any added accents.
Now add some accents into the mix. Here I’ve chosen to add five accents. The first step would be to continue to play on snare drum until the accents feel comfortable, and the difference between accented and unaccented notes is smooth.
Next try playing all of the right-hand accents on floor tom and left-handed on rack tom (reverse sticking if left handed). Again make sure that the unaccented notes sound smooth and even and noticeably quieter than the notes played on toms.
Now play the accents on the crash with the bass drum played at the same time to fatten up the sound.
A further idea then is to mix the ideas up further by playing all of the right- hand accents on toms and the left-handed ones on a crash.
Now reverse the hands’ roles, moving the right hand to the crash and the left hand to the toms.
Examples 7 & 8
Now, for the more advanced players, the next step is to play the unaccented snare notes as double strokes in 32nd notes, effectively doubling-up the unaccented strokes. Again make sure that you keep them smooth, even and at a lower volume than the accented notes. Firstly play the accents on toms, then move on to the cymbals.
Once you’ve mastered examples two to six using this particular accent pattern – and hopefully examples seven and eight – choose a different number of accents, placing them in different positions in the bar, and repeat the process of moving the accents around the kit. After doing this for a short time you should soon get to the point where you can easily place the accents anywhere within the bar and anywhere around the kit, which will help you improvise freely to create fresh sounding fills every time you play.