Definition and background:
A short solo used in jazz music or music with jazz influences. The fill is typically unwritten ( ad lib) and is used as a background effect to add interest to passages in between phrases of the melody of the composition or when the melody is holding long notes. The fill is normally given to an instrument in rhythm section of the ensemble ( bass, drum, guitar, or piano), but other instruments can provide melodic fills. In general, a fill is anything that is performed in addition to the written composition to "fill " a silence. It can also underscore a rhythm played by other instruments, announce the entrance or punctuate the exit of a soloist or other passages of the composition, stimulate the other performers to make the performance more interesting. The fill can either maintain the character of the composition or provide a contrasting character. Characteristics of Fills Drum fill A drum fill will normally augment the normal swing rhythmic patterns with more aggressive or complex figures for the duration required by the fill. It is used to raise excitement in passages with the full ensemble or to provide a more interesting rhythms in moments between melodic phrases. The fill can also punctuate the entrance of a soloist or the entire ensemble.Piano or Guitar fill The piano or guitar fill will generally include more aggressive or complex rhythmic figures for the duration required by the fill and can add a more dense harmonic color. The piano or guitar fill can also provide a very subtle and simple melodic or harmonic figure to provide a possible contrast to a loud shout chorus or just to keep in character with the rest of the composition.Other fills Any instrument in an ensemble (including voice) can provide a fill when indicated in the composition. These are typically rhythmic or melodic figures to provide interest between phrases of the melody. (English) A jazz or rock term which instructs performers to improvise a scalar passage or riff to "fill in" the brief time between lyrical phrases, the lines of melody, or between two sections.
Short for drumfill. See drumfill.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary