Welcome to the free drum lesson on one of the most important drum rudiments from the 40 drum rudiments, the flam. The flam is used in every style of music and is a hard rudiment to play with quality. In this video, Lionel Duperron teaches you how to master the flam and how to apply it to the drum set with a couple of drum beats and drum fills.
The flam has the purpose of producing a thicker and longer sounding note. It incorporates two single strokes played at different heights. The highest and loudest note is called primary note, and the lowest and softest one is called grace note. Because of the difference in heights, the primary note should hit the surface of the drum or practice pad slightly after the grace note, producing a thicker and longer sounding note. The grace note has no rhythmic value, because it can be played closed or open – depending on the type of sound you wish to achieve. The flam, alongside the single stroke roll and the double stroke roll are the fundamental patterns of the 40 drum rudiments. Therefore, we encourage you to devote some of your time to developing the single stroke roll and the double stroke roll as well.
The sheet music below has a very good flam exercise for practicing flam quality and consistency. It’s called hand-to-hand flams. The smaller notes are grace notes, which are always connected to the primary note through a tie. The grace notes should be consistent from hand-to-hand, as should the primary strokes. Playing a primary note with the right hand is called a right hand flam. A left hand flam is the exact opposite – primary note played with the left hand.
For developing great sounding flams, the grace notes have to be played as close as possible to the primary stroke, and with the drumstick positioned very close to the surface of the drum. You may end up playing the grace note at the exact same time as the primary note. This is called a “flat flam” or a “double stop”. Starting with the drumsticks at different heights should be enough to avoid this.
Exercise #1 is a rendition of the basic 8th note rock drum beat. Start by playing the bass drum on counts 1 and 3, the hi-hat on all the 8th notes, and the snare drum on counts 2 and 4. Once this feels natural to you, play the flams on counts 2 and 4 by moving the right hand from the hi-hat to the snare drum to play the primary stroke, as the left hand plays the grace note.
You can start to learn exercise #2 by adding two extra bass drum strokes on the “and” of counts 1 and 3 of the previous exercise. Once this comes naturally to you, add extra flams to the “and” of counts 2 and 4. For an added challenge, try playing the 8th note flams as hand-to-hand flams.
“Power flams” are very common in rock music. With this type of flam, both grace and primary notes are played at a high level of volume. For the next flam drum fills, Lionel Duperron uses power flams to spice the drum fills up a bit.
Exercise #3 is a 16th note drum fill. As you can see on the sheet music below, for the most part, this pattern is played with a 16th note single stroke roll going down the toms. The flam is inserted into this drum fill on count 4. Transitioning from the “ah” of count 3 on the floor tom to the flam on the snare drum on count 4 is the most challenging bit of this drum fill. Practice this exercise slowly at first, and don’t sacrifice flam quality for speed. Speed will come with control.
Exercise #4 is very similar to the previous one. The only thing that really changes here is what is played on count 2. Instead of a 16th note single stroke roll on the mid-tom, we have a quarter note flam on the snare drum. Transitioning from the single stroke rolls on the hi- and floor tom, to the flams on the snare drum, adds the same level of challenge as we discussed on the previous exercise. Use the tips we gave you there to guide you here as well.
Once you feel you have nothing more to take from this free drum lesson, feel free to check the free drum lesson on the flam tap next.