Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

Triplet Fill Concepts

Part 1: Three Over Four

by John Xepoleas

Welcome to the first of three lessons in our “Triplet Fill Concepts” series. In this part, I’m going to show you how to play some simple three-over-four ideas using accents over triplets.

Here’s the basic pattern. Notice that there are three accents evenly placed over the four quarter notes of the measure. This is what we mean by the term three over four. Practice the pattern until you’re comfortable, and be sure to use a metronome.

Now add a bass drum to the pattern on each quarter note. This helps give you a deeper understanding of how the triplet accents land with the beat.

Here’s the first version of the fill. To start, use an alternating (RLRL) sticking, and play the accents using the ride cymbal and bass drum.

Now let’s play one bar of swing time into one bar of the fill.

Next, play two bars of swing time into two bars of the fill. (Practice all of the fills in this lesson series in similar two- and four-bar time/fill formats.)

Now play the fill using an RLLL sticking.

Here’s that version played after a measure of time. Do the same thing in the four-bar format as well (two bars of time and then two bars of fill).

In this next example, use the RLLL sticking from the previous example, but maintain a swing ride pattern as you play the fill.

Practice that version coming out of one and two bars of time as well. Here’s the four-bar version. See you next time!


John Xepoleas has written two drum books, Style Studies for the Creative Drummer and Essential Drum Lessons With the Greats. He is also an active online educator. For more info, visit johnxdrums.com.