A drum fill is a brief phrase inserted into a drum track’s main groove. It often appears every eight or sixteen bars and energizes the transition between song sections or sub-sections. A common practice in electronic music production is to select a drum fill from a sample pack and place it at specific positions in the track arrangement. In the following tutorial, we’ll show you an alternative to creating a unique drum fill.

As usual, we prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW. It includes most of the elements of a full mix. Let’s listen to it.

This is a screenshot of my mix taken before creating and processing the drum fill.
~Full Mix – Without Drum Fill

Drum fills selection

As you can hear and see in the screenshot above, there is a small gap just before the sequence’s main drop. This is where we will work. We’ll begin by selecting drum fills from a sample library. You can use as many as you want for this technique, but three or four different ones should suffice. Then, once satisfied with the selected fills, we will layer them on different audio channels. Here is what each of the selected drum fills sound like.

This is a screenshot of my mix and 3 different drum fills that I chose to work on.
~Drum Fill 1 – Unprocessed
~Drum Fill 2 – Unprocessed
~Drum Fill 3 – Unprocessed

As indicated in SoundBridge’s browser and in the name of the files, the drum fills we chose have a specific original tempo. Our track’s tempo is set to 119 BPM, while one of the drum fills has a tempo of 122 BPM, for instance.

SoundBridge’s stretch tool can be used to sync a file’s tempo with the current track’s tempo. Just double-click on any audio block, which opens the audio editor, then type the original tempo of the file into the tab labeled “Stretch”.

This action will automatically sync the sample with the overall tempo of the track. You can also play around with the tempo value by dragging it up and down. For example, if the sample’s original tempo is 122 and you type a value of 300, you may get an interesting sound by overstretching the sample.

This is a clos-up of drum fill 1 audio editor and its stretch section.

Edit to make it a unique drum fill

Next, we will edit different parts from the three chosen drum fills and combine them to make something new and interesting. It’s recommended at this stage to experiment and listen to the edited result in the context of the entire track so that it fits it as much as possible before any processing.

Let’s hear how our selection sounds.

This is a a screenshot of drum fills channels after selecting the parts that will make the final sound.
~Final Drum Fill – Unprocessed

Moving on, it would be best to add all drum fill tracks into a new group track for easier control and processing. Then we will use standard tools like EQ, reverb, and compressors to make our drum fill blend in even better with the rest of the mix.

This is a screenshot of my mix and highlighted group channel of the drum group.
~Final Drum Fill – Processed

Lastly, let’s hear the processed drum fill in the context of the full mix.

~Full Mix – Final Processed Drum Fill

If you liked this article on drum processing, here is more on the same subject