Many of the basic drum rudiments can be combined. If you analyze a paradiddle, you’ll see that it’s really just two single strokes and a double. With that in mind, I’ve decided to blend two of my favorite sounds on the drums: the buzz stroke and the flam. These “blams” can be played in many different ways, which is what we’ll explore in this article.
When you work on the blam, focus on creating a thick sound by applying a bit more pressure to the buzz stroke. Try to make the buzz sustain until you play the next grace note. Work on the right-hand blam first, then the left, and finally play alternating strokes.
Now play alternating blams in faster note groupings. Begin with quarter-note triplets, and then try 8th notes. You can also practice shifting from one measure to the next continuously. Just be sure to practice each example slowly at first.
Let’s take a flam accent and add buzzes to the notes following the flams. This gives you a blam accent.
Now let’s invert the blams. Start by making the grace note of the flam the buzz stroke. Sustain the buzzed grace note through the main note of the flam.
You can also apply the blam to the flam tap to create a blam tap.
Now let’s vary the attack of the grace note of the flam, so that it becomes a short “dead stroke.” To do this, apply pressure to push the stick into the drumhead. The buzz of the main stroke should keep going while the grace note is pushed into the head. The cool thing about this variation is that the dead stroke raises the pitch of the drum, which allows for some interesting tonal possibilities, especially on the toms. Here are some variations to practice using dead strokes for the grace notes.
Here are a couple of two-bar ideas where I’m using the dead-stroke blam between the toms. Obviously there are countless ways of applying this idea around the drums. Have fun, and good luck!
Canadian drummer Ted Warren teaches at Mohawk College and the University of Guelph. He also leads his own quartet, Ted’s Warren Commission.