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What Is This "Tonight" Drum Fill?


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Hi Paul,

I sent your post to my friend Mark, who is a drummer, and the following is what he wrote back.  Hope it helps!


What your friend heard are known as "fill ins" (or "fills") and "kicks." A fill is used to fill gaps in lyrics while the band is still playing or when it temporarily pauses (allowing the drummer a short solo), usually for a measure or two. In 4/4 time (sometimes called "common" time"), one measure equals four, one-count beats: 1-2-3-4. What the drummer usually does is fill in those spaces with a series of 16th notes: 1-e-n-a-2-e-n-a-3-e-n-a-4-e-n-a. Notice there are 16 phrases when you say it. Beat your foot four times, once for each number, and count one, two, three, four. Then do it again, but fill in between the numbers by saying what I wrote above. The drummer usually will use a different drum for each of the four sixteenth-notes and end on a crash cymbal when he finishes the fill in (4-e-n-a-crash!). This also can be accomplished with a combination  of eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and thirty-second notes, between the snare drum, the various tom-toms and bass drum. A "kick" merely adds emphasis to a musical phrase, as in: ba-da-bop! Here's a good example of fill-ins and kicks, both as rhythmical accompaniment and as solos. The drummer is Danny Seraphine of Chicago:
"Rolls" are a completely different thing. There are many different types, usually named after the number of strokes in the rudiment. The most common type of roll used for a rock fill (and kick) is the "five-stroke roll" (LL-RR-L).
I hope this doesn't confuse your friend.
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Are you kidding me? I've been obsessed with that exact Chicago video for a while. I even showed it to my 14 year old bassist son as an example of a perfect live performance (in my opinion). Terry Kath was one of the best.

Thank you and Mark for the information. I also found out about "Bucket of Fish", which seems to fit what I'm hearing:

I'm gonna hop on the kit and give all this a try!



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