How to play Swiss Army Triplet? Simple Approach

November 15, 2023

How to play Swiss Army triplets can be a head-scratcher when you’re first trying to get that flam just right — I’ve definitely been there, too.

You’ll get the hang of this classic rudiment and start adding some serious flair to your drumming toolkit.

Swiss Army triplets are a flam followed by two taps, a useful skill for enhancing rhythmic patterns on the drum set.

If you’re short on time: remember the sequence RRL or LLR, start slow, and keep the sticks bouncing.

Let’s start and march through this together!

How to Play Swiss Army Triplets

What is a Swiss Army Triplet?

In the world of drumming, the Swiss Army triplet holds a unique place. It’s a percussive triple-threat — a flam followed by two alternating taps, typically notated as RRL or LLR for right and left hands respectively. The flam — a softer note almost simultaneous with a louder primary stroke — sets the stage, while the subsequent taps drive the rhythm forward.

How to Count Swiss Army Triplets

Counting Swiss Army Triplets follows the same rhythmic foundation as your basic triplets—think of it like the steady pulse of a heart, “1-trip-let, 2-trip-let.” But with the Swiss Army Triplet, there’s an added layer, a little flam before each ‘1’ and ‘2’ to spice things up. 

Just like the trusty tool they’re named after, these triplets are about precision and timing. Keep that triplet count in your head, “1-trip-let, 2-trip-let,” and on every “1” and “2,” add that little flam as a garnish. It’s about locking into that triplet groove and then dressing it up with the Swiss Army’s unique flair.

How to Play Swiss Army Triplets

Playing Swiss Army Triplets involves coordination and finesse, as you’re essentially layering a basic rudiment with a flam. Here’s how you can break it down and practice:

  1. Isolate the Flam: Start by practicing a single flam to get the feeling of the primary note followed by a softer grace note. Right-handed flam would be a left grace note followed by a right primary note, and vice versa.

  2. Add the Tap: After the flam, add a tap with the same hand that played the primary note of the flam. This should feel like a bounce – flam, tap, with a rhythm of “down-up.”

  3. Introduce the Opposite Hand Tap: Immediately after the tap, use the opposite hand to play a single tap, creating the sequence of flam (right), tap (right), tap (left) for a right-handed Swiss Army Triplet.

  4. Repeat and Switch: Practice this pattern slowly and consistently. Once you’re comfortable, start the pattern with the opposite hand to ensure balance in your playing.

Mastering Swiss Army Triplets

To truly master Swiss Army Triplets, expand beyond the basics:

  • Dynamic Control: Practice playing the triplets at different dynamics. Start soft and gradually increase to loud, then back down again.

  • Speed Development: Gradually increase the tempo as you get comfortable. Use a metronome and increase in small increments to maintain clarity and control.

  • Varying Surfaces: Play the Swiss Army Triplets on different drums and cymbals to get used to how it feels on varying rebound surfaces.

  • Incorporate into Beats: Use the Swiss Army Triplet as a substitute for regular triplets in your beats. This can add a new flavor to standard rhythms.

  • Displacement: Displace the starting point of the triplet within a measure. Starting the triplet on the “let” of “trip-let” can create interesting syncopations.

  • Accents and Ghost Notes: Experiment with accenting different notes of the triplet or turning some taps into ghost notes for a more nuanced sound.

Wrap Up

Learning how to play Swiss Army Triplets can bring a dynamic and military precision to your drumming repertoire. 

With consistent practice of the steps and mastery techniques outlined, you’ll be able to infuse your drumming with the intricate sound of this rudiment. 

Remember, like the Swiss Army knife itself, versatility and precision are key. Keep practicing, and soon the Swiss Army Triplet will be an indispensable part of your rhythmic toolkit.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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