The flam accent could be described as a single stroke roll played with flams in a triplet feel. You’re most likely to hear it in a jazz setting, but you can incorporate this drum rudiment into drum fills and solos in basically any style.
First, play a single stroke roll as triplets. Then replace the first note of each triplet with a flam.
Here’s what it sounds like:
You can use this tool to practice along at the tempo that’s best for you (it’s the one Drumeo members use when practicing with the 3000+ play-along tracks inside our members area).
The biggest challenge is getting your flams just right and keeping the roll smooth and consistent. Make sure the flams are tight and that there’s very little space between the grace note and the primary note.
Mind that gap: never play two notes at exactly the same time. That’s something else called a “flat flam” or a “double stop”.
Here are some tips to help your flam accents.
When you’re first learning how to play something, it’s fine to test it out without a metronome as you get used to the pattern. But you shouldn’t go click-free for long. The metronome will help you develop a better internal clock and show you exactly where the timing of your strokes is inconsistent (or where it’s right on the grid).
You can buy a physical metronome at a music store or download a metronome app online.
While it might be tempting to get up to speed as quickly as possible – especially if you’re feeling confident – make sure you’re really starting each flam with a soft grace note and that your technique is solid.
Be honest with yourself and don’t increase the tempo until you’ve really got it down. Don’t just say “it’s good enough”. Develop control first, and speed will come later.
Try setting your metronome to 60 BPM and slowly work your way up 5 BPM at a time.
If you’re a right-handed drummer, you probably default to starting flam accents with your right hand.
Even though this rudiment naturally alternates, practice starting the run with your left hand. This will help you get a more consistent sound out of both sticks and give you more confidence and control.
It’s easiest to correct your posture or grip immediately if you’re watching yourself in a mirror. Try to set up a practice pad and a snare stand in front of a full length mirror if you can.
You’ll be able to notice if you’re gripping your sticks too hard, or if your stick height doesn’t look right. Use your reflection as a window into how you’re doing. It’s like becoming your own drum teacher!
While playing in front of a mirror will help you fix issues on the fly, you might not realize during your practice when something is wrong. Sometimes we don’t notice issues while we’re in the middle of playing – especially if we’re concentrating hard.
Whether you’re propping your phone on your dresser or capturing it all with a camera and tripod, it’s helpful to watch your practice sessions and critique yourself from a ‘third party’ perspective.
Once you’re comfortable playing them on a practice pad or a single drum, try some flam accents around the drum set.
You can play the whole pattern on one drum or break it up between multiple surfaces. Try the following exercises to get started.
Any surface can be part of the pattern! You could also challenge yourself by breaking up the sticking between your hands and feet.
With enough solid practice, you should start feeling more confident in your playing. The flam accent is a useful and fun rudiment to add to solos and fills, and it’s great for adding flair to your drumming. It might even become your favorite rudiment.
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