Hello, Modern Drummer readers and friends! My name is Briggs Akers, and I am a drummer and teacher at kidsdrumminglessons.com. I give free lessons to kids who are just starting out on the drums. In this post I will be showing how you can become more creative with your drumming no matter at any level.
We have all done it. We hear an awesome drum fill and learn it note for note. We practice it, and as soon as we can, we show it off to all of our friends. After all the praise (we don’t deserve) someone asks, “Did you make that up”? Enter disappointment and shame. That’s when you have to fess up and tell them, “No, I heard it from someone else.”
Well, let’s stop the embarrassing situations and get the credit we deserve. Isaac Newton said of his genius, “If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In other words, don’t start from scratch, but rather use what others have learned and expand upon that.
For drummers, the key is to look at any fill or groove and simply ask: What if? What if I added a diddle? What if I reversed the sticking? What if I added a kick? What if I moved the accents? In the video below, we take a look at the linear drum pattern RK RLK RLK (K = kick drum). I was made aware of this from Jerome Flood II in his 2008 Guitar Center Drum-Off performance. It is a killer lick! Let’s ask the question, “What if I diddled the first kick”? The result is thunderous linear fill. That was easy, right?
Let’s try something a little more complex. Here’s a linear pattern I learned from Juan “Carlito” Mendoza, the 2012 Guitar Center Drum-Off winner. The pattern is KRL RLL. In this case, I reversed the sticking so KRL becomes KLR, and I scrambled the RLL into LLR. Now let’s add some accents on the first left and the last right. The new pattern is KLR LLR. It gives the fill a choppy feel, as if it’s fighting against the pulse of the groove. This is just the tip of the iceberg. This concept can be applied to anything and the “what ifs” are endless.
So what drum giants’ shoulders are you going to stand on to progress your drumming? Leave a comment, and let me know what ways you use to make a famous fill or groove your own.