I understand the hiccup when it comes to learning how to play a flam accent; it’s that pesky rudiment that can trip up even the diligent drummer. I’ve been there, struggling to get that perfect sound, and I’m here to help you nail it.
By conquering the flam accent, you’ll unlock a new level of rhythmic flair that will enrich your drumming palette.
In essence, a flam accent is a three-note pattern where a flam is followed by two taps, a fundamental for adding complexity to your drumming.
Let’s start laying down those beats with clarity and confidence!
What is a Flam Accent?
A flam accent is a percussive pattern, beginning with a grace note followed closely by a primary stroke, then two additional taps, creating a triplet feel.
Understanding the Flam Accent
A flam accent consists of a triplet where the first note is a flam followed by two single strokes (tap tap). It’s essentially a pattern of three notes, and it is counted in triplet form as 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, and so forth, with the flam landing on the count. To better understand, we could notate the pattern as follows:
- Flam (both hands, with one striking slightly before the other)
- Tap (single stroke with the opposite hand of the primary flam note)
- Tap (another single stroke with the same hand that played the primary flam note)
How to play a Flam Accent?
To perform a flam accent, follow these steps:
Begin with the Flam: The flam is a combination of two notes, almost played simultaneously. The key is to have a grace note (a very quiet and quick note) played right before a primary note. The grace note should be played with one stick (usually the left for right-handed drummers) close to the drumhead, while the primary note should be played with more force and from a greater height.
Follow with Two Taps: After the flam, the hand that played the primary note of the flam will come up to play the first tap. Then the other hand follows with the second tap. These taps should be even and controlled, maintaining the rhythm and not overshadowing the flam.
Tips for Perfecting the Flam Accent
Avoid Flat Flams: A ‘flat flam’ occurs when the grace note and primary note land too closely together, resulting in a less articulate and often unwanted ‘pop’. This mistake usually happens when the grace note is played too loud or too high from the drum, causing it to coincide with the primary note.
Grace Note Precision: To avoid flat flams, focus on keeping your grace notes low and soft. They should almost whisper before the primary note strikes. This is the ‘secret sauce’ to clear, articulate flams.
Practice Slowly: Begin practicing flam accents at a slow tempo to ensure accuracy in the grace note and primary note placement. As muscle memory develops, you can gradually increase the speed.
Metronome Use: Employing a metronome can be extremely beneficial. It keeps you accountable for the timing of each part of the rudiment and can guide you to increase your speed without sacrificing clarity.
Dynamic Control: Work on playing the flam accents at various dynamic levels. This control is particularly useful when applying flam accents to musical contexts, as dynamics play a significant role in the music’s expression.
Rudimental Hygiene: Practice flam accents within a routine of other rudiments. This ‘rudimental hygiene’ keeps all aspects of your drumming technique in shape and ensures that the flam accents are not practiced in isolation but within the context of related patterns and strokes.
Learning how to play a flam accent properly can truly expand your rhythmic repertoire.
This essential drumming rudiment demands precision, control, and a touch of perseverance. It’s not merely about striking the drum; it’s the nuanced execution that allows the flam accent to enhance your musical expression.
Maintain low and soft grace notes, commit to regular practice, and you’ll find that knowing how to play a flam accent skillfully becomes an indispensable part of your percussion skillset.