The function of drum fills 2017-12-03 13:33:44 I hope this is an appropriate place for this topic. I'm new here, but I'd like to talk a little bit about the function of drum fills.This is a topic to which I am particularly sensitive.I have a mental illness which puts me on the autism spectrum. I have schizoaffective disorder, which is an illness that combines the symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. My illness alters the way in which I perceive every aspect of reality, that is why it puts me on the autism spectrum. This is particularly relevant to my perception of music and to the topic at hand because my illness alters my perception of time.I do not have a normal understanding or perception of time. I am not able to be aware of systems of time management such as clocks or calendars in the way that a normal person might. My understanding of the passage of time is not based on the numbers displayed on a clock, but it is not so difficult to imagine what my perception of time is like.My perception of time is based on the physical events that take place within my sphere of perception. I do not mark morning with a number AM, I mark morning with the change in my state of consciousness from sleep to wake. I do not know the number for the time at which it is appropriate to eat lunch, I just know that my girlfriend has returned from work.This sort of perception of time independent of time keeping mechanisms and based entirely on the qualia you experience as changes take place in the physical world which surrounds you is the sort of time perception that most people experience when they listen to a piece of music.A musician controls their audience's perception of the passage of time. This is essential even to arhythmic music. If you are playing music of any kind, you are changing your audience's perception of the passage of time.Controlling that perception is one of the specific functions of rhythm, tempo and the interactions thereof. With each passing subdivision, you are indicating to your audience that a minute segment of time has passed.This makes the rhythmic instruments or elements of a piece of music particularly powerful. Whatever that rhythmic element may be, a guitar, a bass, or a drum kit, the instrument or instruments that play the role of keeping the time on which all other rhythms are based has a great deal of control over the audience's perception of the passage of time, something which most people consider to be immutable and intrinsic to their reality.If you have a drum kit playing a rhythm in your song, your audience will take cues from that kit as to the passage of time. This is unavoidable. People have been taught to do so from childhood and they are not about to change that for you. If you have a drum kit playing a rhythm it will define the time to some extent even if it is wildly out of time with everything else. That said I'm not invalidating the creative choice of using the drum kit in alternate ways. There's nothing wrong with arhythmic drumming or any other ideas you might come up with. But you must understand that if you have drums and they play a rhythm, that rhythm will have an effect on your audience's perception of time which you can use to your advantage.Now I can talk about the function of fills. If subdivisions mark the passage of time on the most micro level, then the most macro level of a unit of time which can be marked by a drum kit is done so with a fill. We are not aware of the passage of time because of continuous similarity, we become aware of the passage of time when something significantly different happens in the world around us. When the transient of the snare hits, we pass time. When a passage of a song ends we pass time.If you do not have fills, but instead transition directly from one beat to another, you have not significantly marked the passage of time from one unit of music to the next. Depending on the beats that you choose, your audience may not even notice that you have changed what the drums are doing. Your audience may not take the cue from the drums that you have chosen to pass time from one segment of your song to another.This is not to say that you must have fills in your music. It is a perfectly valid choice not to have any fills, or not to place a fill in a particular place. But you must understand that if you do not have a fill, or any fills, you are not indicating to your audience that time is passing on the instrument that is most crucial to their understanding of the passage of time and this will have an effect on the way that people perceive your music.If you are trying to stretch each moment of your song into interminable lengths, it is valid not to include any fills in your drumming. If you want the effect of a moment in time dragging on and on you can leave out the fill in that part.But if you want your music to move forward in time, you must have fills.