Learn To Play The Flam Drum Rudiment!

The flam is a very popular drum rudiment that can be found in virtually every style of music. The flam has the purpose of producing a thicker and longer sounding note. This note is very hard to play with quality and is achieved by performing two single strokes at different heights.

The highest and loudest note is called the primary note, while the lowest and softest one is called the grace note. Because of the difference in heights, the primary note hits the surface of the drum slightly after the grace note. It's this offset that's responsible for producing that thicker and longer sounding note. It's worth mentioning that although it's possible to notate grace notes they have no rhythmic value. We encourage you to learn how to play the single stroke roll and the double stroke roll before going through this lesson.

To play great sounding flams the grace notes should be played as close as possible to the primary stroke and to the surface of the drum. To achieve this you have to make sure the drumstick is positioned close to the surface just before you play the grace note. Playing the grace note at the exact same time as the primary note is called a "flat flam" or a "double stop".

The exercise in the sheet music below is great for practicing flam quality and consistency. The smaller notes are the grace notes and the bigger ones are the primary strokes. The first and third flams are called left hand flams, while the second and forth ones are right hand flams. As you practice this exercise, focus on getting consistent sounding grace notes and primary strokes as you move from hand to hand.


Exercise #1 is an 8th note drum beat featuring two flams. Start by playing the hi-hat on all the 8th notes and the snare drum on counts 2 and 4. Then, move the leading hand from the hi-hat to the snare drum to play the primary stroke of the flams on counts 2 and 4, as the left hand plays the grace notes. Add the bass drum on counts 1 and 3 once you have the hands mastered.

Flam #1

Exercise #2 is an 8th note drum beat. Take the previous drum beat and add an extra flam to the "and" of counts 2 and 4. Once this comes naturally to you, play two extra bass drum strokes on the "and" of counts 1 and 3. Try playing the flams as hand-to-hand flams for an added challenge.

Flam #2

Exercise #3 features a 16th note single stroke roll that ends in a flam on count 4. Transitioning from the "ah" of count 3 on the floor tom to the flam on the snare drum is the most challenging bit of this exercise. Practice this pattern slowly at first. Don't sacrifice flam quality for speed - speed will come with control.

Flam #3

Exercise #4 is very similar to the previous one. The main difference can be found in count 2 - there's a flam played on the snare drum instead of a 16th note single stroke roll on the mid-tom. Transitioning from the single stroke rolls to the flams on the snare drum, adds the same level of challenge seen on the previous exercise. Use the tips we gave you there to help you perform this drum fill with greater ease and quality.

Flam #4

Once you're able to play the flam and the exercises herein accurately, you can keep challenging yourself by learning how to play new drum rudiments. We encourage you to check the free drum lessons on the flam tap and the flam accent next.