Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Weight Room: Flams

The Flam is one of the most basic rudiments.

And I'm going to give you one of the most basic pieces of advice you'll ever get about playing it.

The way to good, clean flams is simply to keep the strokes separate (unless you're trying to play flat flams). And what I mean by 'separate' is to keep the main stroke high and the grace note low. There are numerous opinions on how much lower/softer the grace note should be from the main note, but a general rule of thumb is to keep as much separation as the music will allow.

Take two objects of similar weight, size and shape. Imagine two basketballs. If you drop them from a given height, they'll hit the ground at the about the same time and with about the same force. But if you drop one from a lower height, it will hit the ground slightly earlier and with slightly less force. As you increase the difference in height, you increase the difference in the arrival time and force.

So, logically, your sticks are two objects of similar weight, size and shape. If you "drop" them from the same height, they hit at the same time with the same volume (force). This is a flat flam (which we'll talk about another time). If you want to create a normal, concert/rudimental snare drum flam, you start the grace note stick very low, and the main note much higher (depending on the dynamic level, accents, etc.). Then, just let gravity take over and play the notes.

Especially when it comes to concert and rudimental snare drumming, don't underestimate the power of good ol' physics. Gravity pulls down, and sticks/heads bounce up. Your fingers and hands are just there to help and control (and, of course, do cool visual stuff, twirls and stick flips). So don't think that you have to do all the work. As one of my old instructors puts it, "Let the sticks do the work."

I hope this helps your flams. As always, stay relaxed, use your ears, and rely on good technique. Those things will get you everywhere you want to go.

Happy drumming!


  1. Love me a good flam. Couldn't have a flamadiddle without it!

    1. Indeed, the flam is the gateway to many an awesome pattern/fill/groove. Thanks, Nate!


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