'Dreams' 32nd Note Grouping Fill

In this lesson I will be showing you a one bar fill built on an oddly grouped 32nd Note rhythm. The pattern is based on the Van Halen song Dreams and you can hear it half way through the guitar solo at around 2:53 in the video linked.

The fill is based on a semi quaver 33334 rhythm played at a tempo of 140bpm. This is the basis of the fill so it is important you understand how these type of rhythms work. If you haven't already have a read therough the page linked above. There are many other lessons on this subject for you to look over too.

Normally within subdivisions like this you would expect to see an accent or an orchestration to highlight the syncopated groupings. In this case however two 32nd notes are used. As this part is so quick, I am going to start by giving you the rhythm unorchestrated and with all note values halved. That should make it easier for you to get your head around what is happening before building up tempo. I have included sticking and phrase markings in the rhythm below:

A slowed down unorchestrated version of the rhythm.

Notice that you are playing the same little phrase four times followed by a different rhtyhm for the last section? Spend some time getting comfortable with the sticking and timing of this part then use the Two Minute Rule to start working on building up the tempo.

While we've got a nice slow version of the rhythm going, let's apply the orchestration. Each of those four repeated rhythms uses the same pattern which is two mid toms, a floor tom and a snare. The last block is just a mid tom followed by snares. In the pattern below I have shown the orchestration for the repeated grouping played once followed by a gap. This exercise will familiarize you with the movement without having to worry about the odd timing.

An exercise preparing for the full orchestration

To achieve the full orchestration you are going to turn the quarter note in the previous exercise into an eighth note then play it four times over. The full orchestration played at half speed is shown below.

An exercise preparing for the full orchestration

Again, spend some time making sure your timing and placement is accurate then use the two minute rule to start speeding up the part. It is important you do this as you will be learning the full speed version of these parts next and they are pretty fast!

Before diving into the full fill I will give the rhythm unorchestrated at full speed. This will be played exactly the same as the version above only twice as fast. I have included sticking and phrase markings to try and make the learning process a little easier.

The full speed rhythm for the fill

Then finally the full speed rhythm with the orchestration applied to create the full fill.

The full speed orchestrated fill


  1. Using the 2 minute rule, get the part up to a tempo of at least 140bpm.
  2. Apply the examples as fills in a Four or Eight bar structured piece.
  3. Experiment with switching around the orchestration to create some new fills.


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