Flam Rudiment 101: Beginner's Guide to Playing Flams

Flam –the cleaner they are, the smoother they sound. It’s a rudiment where a drummer strikes a grace note just a split second before striking the primary note. At its core, a flam is a drumming technique that adds depth, texture, and dynamics to your playing. 

The beauty of flams lies in their versatility and the range of expressive possibilities they offer. Whether you're playing marching snare, drum set, or any other percussion instrument, flams can be used to add flavor to fills, create engaging grooves, or punctuate beats with a touch of flair. By mastering the flam rudiment, you'll unlock a new level of creativity and finesse in your play.

In this blog, I’ll be sharing different flam exercises and techniques on playing flams with a traditional grip. 

The Basic Structure of Flam 

A flam consists of two distinct notes played in quick succession: the grace note and the primary note. The grace note is a softer, lighter note that precedes the primary note, which is the stronger and emphasized beat. This combination creates a distinct flam sound, adding depth and character to your drumming. 

The grace note sets the stage for the primary note, acting as a subtle lead-in. It's typically played slightly softer and shorter in duration than the primary note. The primary note follows immediately after the grace note, providing the main accent and impact. The contrast between these two notes is what gives flams their unique sonic quality.

Flam Rudiments

Building Finger Control & Technique for Flams

Developing finger control is crucial for executing clean and precise flams. The ability to manipulate the dynamics and articulation of each finger independently allows you to create a seamless transition between the grace note and primary note, resulting in a well-defined and expressive flam sound. By honing your finger control, you'll gain the finesse and dexterity necessary to master this rudiment.

Here are the different 4 flam rudiments exercises that you can practice everyday that I think would help you the most:

  1. Flam Accent -  The flam accent combines flams with single strokes to create a dynamic and energetic rudiment. Start with a single grace note followed by a tap with the opposite hand. Accent the next primary note with the hand that played the grace note. Repeat the pattern, alternating hands.
    Flam Accent
  2. Flam Tap - The flam tap incorporates flams into a continuous flowing pattern. Begin with a grace note followed by a tap with the opposite hand. Immediately play another grace note with the first hand, followed by a tap with the opposite hand. Continue alternating hands, maintaining a steady and consistent rhythm. Flam Tap
  3. Flam Paradiddle - The flam paradiddle is a combination of flams and paradiddle sticking. Start with a grace note followed by a tap with the opposite hand, just like in a regular flam. Then, play a single stroke with the hand that just played the grace note. Repeat the pattern, alternating hands and incorporating the paradiddle sticking (R L R R or L R L L). Flam Paradiddle
  4. Flam Drag -  The flam drag combines flams with drag rudiments to create a unique and intricate pattern.Begin with a grace note followed by a tap with the opposite hand. Play a drag (alternating grace notes and taps) with the hand that played the grace note. Alternate hands and continue the pattern, maintaining a consistent rhythm. Flam Drag

Like I always say, start slowly and gradually increase your speed as you gain control and accuracy. To enhance your understanding and execution of flam rudiments, it's recommended to practice with a metronome and gradually increase the tempo over time. Additionally, incorporating these rudiments into drumming patterns and improvisations will help you apply them creatively in musical contexts.

Playing A Flam With Traditional Grip 

When it comes to improving finger control for flams with traditional grip, there are several tips that can help, especially if you're not accustomed to this grip style. Firstly, ensure that your grip is relaxed and comfortable, avoiding excessive tension in your hand, fingers, and forearm. Gradually get accustomed to the unique finger positioning required for traditional grip by practicing finger exercises specifically designed to strengthen and refine finger control. 

Focus on exercises that target individual finger independence and coordination. Start with slow and deliberate movements, emphasizing accuracy and control over speed. As you develop more familiarity and dexterity, gradually increase the speed of the exercises.

Remember to be patient, consistent, and dedicated in your practice. Over time, with focused effort, your finger control will improve, and you'll become more proficient in executing flams with traditional grip.

Tips For Maintaining Accuracy & Control With Traditional Grip

Maintaining accuracy and control with traditional grip is essential for drummers seeking to execute flams with precision and finesse. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced drummer transitioning to traditional grip, mastering this technique requires focused attention and deliberate practice. 

Here are 3 important tips that I can give you to maintain accuracy & control especially as you play a flam with a traditional grip: 

  1. Relax Your Grip - like I shared above, the key is to release tension to allow fluidity as you play. 
  2. Finger Control & Independence - practice exercises that focus on isolating and strengthening each finger's movement. 
  3. Stick Placement & Balance - The stick should rest diagonally across your palm, with the tip extending past your fingers. This positioning provides better control and leverage, allowing you to execute flams with greater precision.

How To Play A Flam Rudiment Fast?  

Playing a flam rudiment can be an exhilarating and satisfying experience. It can be challenging yet rewarding to achieve the desired accuracy and control between the grace note and primary note. Especially when you get to create that clean and precise flams. 

Flam is a crucial rudiment. It’s played in different genres, can expand your skill as a drummer, and develop technical musicality. It’s not really about how you can play it fast but how clean you can play a flam. Slow and steady does it. Practice these different exercises and take note of the tips I wrote above to improve your play. 

If you are looking to level up your traditional grip, I have a mastercourse offering here that can help you in the simplest way master this grip.