Strictly Technique

Pataflafla Hemiolas

Straight and Alternating Versions Over Half-Note Triplets

by Bill Bachman

This month we’re going to add the pataflafla (a rudiment consisting of two adjacent flams) to some two-accent hemiola patterns to give us a rhythmic and rudimental challenge. In its most basic form, a hemiola is a pattern based on the three-against-two polyrhythm that creates a new pulse over the original tempo.

For these exercises we’ll use an accent pattern based on the half-note triplet. A half-note triplet is three half notes taking the place of two, so in the exercises there will be three half-note triplets played within a bar of 4/4 time. An easy way to uncover this rhythm is to play a bar of 8th-note triplets in 4/4 and accent every fourth note. If you then add a second accent adjacent to the first, you’ll have the accent pattern that we’re going to manipulate with flams. We will then shift these accent patterns to each of the four possible positions within a bar of 4/4 time.

The pataflafla consists of two adjacent accented flams. It’s one of the more challenging rudiments, since each hand plays a different part and requires a different technical approach. (Check out my lesson in the May 2015 issue for more on the technical requirements of the pataflafla.) As the pataflafla moves into the different rhythmic positions, the technical demands to play the flams will change. To negotiate the accented flams in these exercises at a medium tempo and up, you’ll need to use all four methods of approaching accent/tap patterns, including the four basic strokes (full, down, tap, and up), the no-chop flop-and-drop, the Moeller whip-and-flop, and the Moeller whip-and-stop.

When there’s time before the accent to prepare, via an upstroke, and there’s time to stop the stick low to the drum afterward with no stress, the four basic strokes should be used. When there’s time to prep for an accent, via the upstroke, but no time to stop the stick low after the accent for the following tap, the no-chop flop-and-drop technique should be used. When there’s no time to prep for an accent using an upstroke via the wrist, the Moeller arm whip should be used to set up for the accent. If there’s time to stop the stick after the whipped accent, use the Moeller whip-and-stop technique; if not, use the Moeller whip-and-flop. (For more on all of these methods, check out my book Stick Technique.)

When you play these exercises, it’s very important to understand the relation of the quarter-note pulse to the accent patterns. Don’t detach from the pulse and hope that you land on the next beat 1. To ensure that you’re keeping the pulse accurately, practice these exercises along with a metronome or your favorite recordings, tap your foot, and count quarter notes out loud.

Here’s the first version, which features the regular pataflafla and a check pattern consisting of flam accents.


For a rudimental challenge, try adding flam drags, cheeses (flam diddles), and flam fives (five-stroke rolls with a flam at the beginning) to the check pattern and on the second flam of each pataflafla. Note that sometimes you’ll need to leave out the flam on beat 1 of the check pattern if you’re coming off a diddle. You’ll also have to leave out the diddle at the end of the flam-five variation in order to change hands.

Now let’s try the second version, which contains alternating pataflaflas. You’ll notice that, instead of doing each variation once and repeating the whole exercise with the left hand leading, now each pattern will be played with right- and left-hand lead before you move on to the next variation.


Finally, add flam drags, cheeses, and flam fives to the exercise. Have fun!

Bill Bachman is an international drum clinician, the author of Stick Technique (Modern Drummer Publications), and the founder of For more information, including how to sign up for online lessons, visit