Definition And Components
The flam is one of the three basic drum strokes, alongside the single stroke and the double stroke. It consists of two single strokes played at different heights to produce a thicker and longer-sounding note. The higher and louder note is the primary note, while the lower and softer one is the grace note.
The primary note should strike the drum slightly after the grace note, due to the difference in their heights. This timing difference gives the flam its characteristic sound.
Step-by-Step Guide to Playing Flams
Keep your drumstick low when preparing to execute a grace note. Avoid playing “flat flams” where both notes are played in unison.
Practice hand-to-hand flams, where you alternate the primary note between hands. The grace note is always connected to the primary note through a tie.
Consistency and Quality
Focus on keeping your sticks down for grace notes and maintain a close interval between the grace and primary notes. Listen for inconsistencies in volume and stroke distance.
Applying Flams in Drumming
Basic Drum Beats
- Start with a basic 8th-note rock beat, then integrate flams on the snare drum. For instance, replace the unison figure between the hi-hat and snare with a right-hand flam on the snare.
- Advanced Patterns- Add complexity by incorporating 8th note flams and experimenting with different patterns, such as hand-to-hand flams.
- Power Flams- In rock and funk music, playing loud grace and primary strokes is common, creating a “power flam” effect.
Flam Drum Fills
First Flam Drum Fill
Practice a 16th note single stroke roll on the toms, culminating in a left-hand flam on the snare. Pay attention to the transition between the floor tom and the snare.
Incorporate flams into a single-stroke roll drum fill, alternating between toms and flams. Focus on the transition and don’t sacrifice quality for speed.
History and Further Learning
- Flams have been integral to drumming across various music styles and periods. Their versatility allows them to be mixed into various rudiments for creative patterns.
- Once comfortable with basic flams, explore more advanced techniques like flam taps and flam accents.
Tips for Practicing
- Start slowly and focus on consistency.
- Listen closely to each stroke to ensure quality.
- Gradually increase speed as you gain control and confidence.
This guide provides a foundation for mastering flams on the snare drum, emphasizing technique, practice, and application in various drumming contexts.