Three Ways to Develop a Creative Flow with Basic Rudiments

Improvising is a spontaneous compositional process. As drummers, we can rely on conceptual techniques like theme and variation to change and develop what we play in the moment. Presented in this article are different ways to build ideas based on flam rudiments. Many of these ideas are distilled from the playing of the modern jazz greats Ari Hoenig and Dan Weiss.

Combine Them
To start, let’s combine a flam tap with a flam paradiddle to create a longer musical motive.

Splice Them
Rudiments can also be spliced together. Example 2 is half of a pataflafla and half of a flam tap. The flam tap portion turns around the lead hand in measure 2.

Chop Them
You can also truncate or extend the rudiments to develop new phrases in odd meters or odd groupings. Example 3 contains flam taps in 7/8. The pattern can be analyzed as a measure of flam taps in 4/4 with the final tap omitted or as a measure of 3/4 with an extra flam tacked onto the end.

Additional Examples
Examples 4–8 show some additional possibilities.

Exploring flam rudiments in this manner will lead you to discover interesting new phrases to apply to your playing. One orchestration idea to try is splitting the hands between different instruments on the kit, such as the hi-hat and snare. That position will inspire new grooves that have an extra layer of perceived complexity. To you, the hands will flow together as one cohesive pattern, but your audience will hear them more as separate voices speaking independently of one another. Have fun!

Mike Alfieri has a bachelor’s degree in music education from the Crane School of Music and a master’s degree in jazz studies from SUNY Purchase. For more information, visit