Strictly Technique

1,000 Ways to Practice a Single Page

Part 4: Orchestrated Flams on the Drumset

by Libor Hadrava

Last month we learned how to interpret a single page of rhythms using flams. In this lesson we’ll apply this concept to the drumset. We’ll practice a few common ways to orchestrate flams on the kit before diving into some more unique variations. These less-common ideas could change your perspective on flams, and practicing them will strengthen your coordination.

Here are the rhythm examples we’ll be reading throughout this lesson. Apply these interpretations to other single-voice rythmic literature.

Executing a flam between two separate surfaces can be more difficult than playing them on a single drum because of the difference in each surface’s rebound and the position of the instruments. To practice this, play constant 16th notes with the left hand on the snare while playing the corresponding rhythms from Exercise 1 as the main notes of a flam with the right hand on the floor tom. Play the low, unaccented strokes soft to moderately loud, and play the right-hand accents loud to very loud.

In Exercise 3, switch the roles of the hands to practice leading with the weaker side. Keep a steady 16th-note subdivision with the right hand on the snare while playing the written rhythm with the left hand on the rack tom.

Once comfortable with Exercises 2 and 3, try alternating the lead hand from measure to measure or beat to beat.

Next, move the main notes of the flams to the ride cymbal and hi-hat while adding the bass drum underneath. Let the kick support the main note of each flam.

In Exercise 4 the sticking alternates lead hands from measure to measure. However, be sure to practice using only a right- or left-hand lead before alternating.

Next, play the grace notes on the bass drum. Try moving your hands to the floor tom—the bass drum is closer in sound to the floor tom, so you’ll be able to better hear the flams. Once comfortable, move the hands back to the snare.

One of my favorite ways of orchestrating flams is by playing them with a double pedal. Focus on the beaters’ distance from the bass drum head in the same way that you focus on stick heights on the snare.

Exercise 7 demonstrates a groove that utilizes flams on double bass.

These exercises should serve as a basis for forming original flam orchestrations around the drumkit. Use these concepts to inspire new ideas that contribute to your own unique sound.


Libor Hadrava is the author of the book In-Depth Rhythm Studies: Advanced Metronome Functions. He also plays with Boston metal band Nascent and is an endorsing artist for Evans, Vater, Dream, Pearl, and Ultimate Ears. For more info, visit liborhadrava.com.