Flat Flam Fills

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine

Flat Flam Fills


Multiple Strokes

Flam rudiments are well known for the way they work the wrists and hands and for the ‘multiple strokes’ they can produce in each hand during the one execution. For example, a paradiddle has a maximum number of multiple strokes in a row in one hand of two RLRR LRLL. If we turn this into a flam paradiddle we get the following – LRLRR RLRLL. It’s a little hard to see from the text but if you examine the right hand, you’ll see that from the first double stroke, including the flam grace note and the next right hand, you’ll end up playing four strokes in a row with that hand. The best way to hear this is to play the flam paradiddle on a practice pad and move one hand to your leg. You’ll hear what I mean. It’s a work out!


Flatten It Out

The concept of Flat Flams simply changes the way the flam is executed. Instead of deliber- ately playing the flam as a separated stroke, here you bring both hands down exactly at the same time. On one playing surface this will feel interesting and not desirably so. So, flat flams are usually reserved for two different playing surfaces and are much more applicable in this way. Our exercises are related to two groupings (Four notes and Three notes), based on the sec- ond part of a Reverse Paradiddle (RRLR LLRL) and will be performed with the ride cymbal (bass drum played also) and the snare drum.


Running In Reverse

Figure A show us the second half of the reverse paradiddle with flams. You can see this is heavily biased to the left hand. This is because the right hand will be moving to the ride cymbal for the accents. You can also see the same idea but in groupings of three (triplets – Figure B). Turning the flams into ‘flat flams’ can be seen in Figures C and D. For these examples I’ve moved the right hand accent to the floor tom for visual purposes and you can clearly see how the two hands play together at these points.

From here comes the fun part. Figure E shows the fill in its basic form as intended with all left hand strokes on the snare drum and the right hand accent on the ride cymbal with a bass drum. Figure F starts to utilise the rhythmic figure in different parts of the bar. Here already, you can hear a cool idea starting to form. Play some grooves and use this as a fill to start with! Figure G shows how you can start to expand the idea – particularly the second bar, which doesn’t allow for any gaps or breaks. It’s a real work out to get this happen- ing accurately in the left hand. But this really gets the creative juices going because from here, you can already start to conceptualise other rhythmic phrases and ideas.


Other Subdivisions

Figure H shows the flat flam idea over triplets, which is basically designed to replicate the sound of a flam accent rudiment. In a way, this is easier than the original lick because the most you’ll play is a double stroke in each of your hands. So, you may find you can get this happening faster than the other ideas to begin with. If you play groupings of three over groupings of four (i.e. moving the triplets into 16th notes) you get Figure I. This is a familiar sound to many drummers and a very, very useable one. Lastly (Figure J, I’ve done one application of the two core stickings over four bars and randomly experimented with where I placed the accents. You’ll find that once you have the stickings happening, you’ll be able to improvise new phrases on the spot. There are many combinations. I hope you get something out of this concept. I certainly did when I finally worked on it!