Falling Rocks

A Primer on One of Drumming’s Most Powerful Fills

by Rich Redmond

The term “falling rocks” refers to a very powerful fill concept made famous by legendary rockers like Carmine and Vinny Appice, John Bonham, Cozy Powell, and Tommy Aldridge, and it’s often used by contemporary metal, prog, and fusion drummers. The phrasing is dense and articulate, and it creates an overwhelming sound reminiscent of an avalanche.

Although these exercises can be played with a single pedal, they take on a more powerful character with a double pedal or two bass drums. Be sure to practice very methodically with a metronome and gradually speed up as you become more comfortable with each phrase. The quick bursts of two-note groupings in the feet should be played cleanly and at the same dynamic level. Four-note groups in the hands are voiced on the snare, rack tom, and floor tom. Exercises 4–8 create an over-the-bar feel because they comprise streams of six-note groupings (four with the hands and two with the feet). Be sure to keep track of how the overall accent pattern lands against the quarter note so you can maintain a steady pulse. Have fun!

Rich Redmond drums for country star Jason Aldean, is an award-winning clinician, and is an active session drummer in Nashville and Los Angeles. His recent book/DVD, FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids (coauthored with Michael Aubrecht), is available through Modern Drummer Publications.