Strictly Technique

Consecutive Flams

Part 3: Inverted Motion

by Bill Bachman

In the third installment of this series, we’re going to modify the exercise by removing one tap from the transitions. Instead of using a flam accent to shift from one hand to the next, we’ll use an inverted flam tap.

The inverted flam tap requires the Moeller whipping motion in order to transition from a low tap to a high accent. This is normally done by the wrist with an upstroke, but at faster tempos there’s too little time, so we’ll need to replace the wrist motion with an arm motion in order to whip the stick in a hurry. It gets even trickier when we have multiple accents, where we’ll need to whip into a series of free strokes. Using the new transitions, we’ll cover the variations of the exercise, first with the accented flams spaced out and then with the accented flams adjacent.

The first variation (Example 1) has a tap between the accents. The biggest challenge is getting the stick up high to attack the first accent. Since the same hand plays a low tap immediately before the accent, there’s very little time to lift the stick (at most tempos). This is where the Moeller whip stroke comes in to replace the wrist motion. In what I call the Moeller upstroke or whip prep stroke, the forearm pumps up and down quickly in order to achieve the stick height necessary for the accent. It may feel a bit herky-jerky, but the upper arm and shoulders must engage to quickly throw the forearm up and immediately back down. The little bit of work done by the upper body is what allows the hand to stay completely relaxed as the stick gets whipped to the “up” position to play the next accent.

In most applications, the Moeller whip stroke is used for isolated accents in a “whip and stop” or “whip and flop” motion, but in these exercises it’s more of a “whip and dribble” action. When there are two or more accents, it’s crucial to whip into a free stroke that rebounds all the way back up to the same height for the next accent.

From there, be sure that the last accent is played as a concise downstroke. Try to stop the drumstick pointing toward the head, as that will be the key to initiating a stream of grace notes and/or taps at a low stick height. The low taps should be played as a smooth and even flow of 16th notes using plenty of finger control.

As with all of the exercises in the series, it’s a good idea to separate the hands and isolate each section of the exercise. Put your practice pad on a couch cushion (or any quieter surface), and then play the accents to either side on the couch, with the low taps on the pad. When the exercise is played perfectly, you should hear a consistent stream of low 16th notes being played on the pad.

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A great variation for this exercise is to play a flammed diddle (also known as a cheese) on the accent. Be sure to accent both beats of the diddle and play them precisely—don’t crush them.

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Now take out the taps between the flams so that they’re adjacent. All of the rules from before apply, but there are new challenges in flam consistency and in maintaining the strength of the accents throughout the series of flams. Since the accents are strung together, some finger control will be necessary to aid the wrists so that the accents don’t decrescendo.

If the first flam in a series is played accurately, generally the rest will follow suit. So it’s key to coordinate the initial accent with the series of low taps. The last accent must be played with a downstroke for the maximum accent/tap differential. Be sure to use a metronome, tap your foot, and count quarter notes out loud throughout the exercises.

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