What is a Flam on Drums?

What is a flam on drums? Snare drum.

I’d like to keep this post short and to the point, but seeing as I tend to get distracted as I write, I’ll probably not be able to do that. My apologies in advance.

So, the question is, “What is a flam on drums?”

That’s a great question, and I’ll answer that and more in this post.

A flam consists of two notes: a grace note, and a primary note. What this means is you play a light stroke with one hand (the grace note) just before you play a full stroke with the other hand. This method imparts a ‘thicker’ or ‘fuller’ sound to the note.

Flams are great for adding additional dynamics to your playing, whether it be during fills or simply to change things up during a routine beat.

They are quite easy to begin implementing in your playing, and they are included in some of the forty international drum rudiments.

An example would be the flam accent, flam tap, flamacue, and flam paradiddle to name a few.

If you would like to learn more about the rudiments that include flams (ten of them), head over to the Percussive Arts Society website and check them out. You can find a link here: Percussive Arts Society International Drum Rudiments

I’ll add some audio clips below so you can listen to what a flam sounds like on some of the different drums.

Snare drum: 120 bpm

Snare drum and toms: 120 bpm

Typically, a flam is played by keeping the hand that is going to play the first note (the grace note) lower than the other hand, and then ‘drop’ them both at the same time so the grace note hits just before the primary or louder note.

What’s cool about a flam is that you can make the first or second note land on the beat. You can also ‘straddle’ the beat with the grace note coming just before the beat and the primary note just after. There are a lot of possibilities music-wise with flams.

A word of caution, however. If playing in a drumline or a group setting, everyone should agree on how the flam should be played so the group is unified in sound.

If you are familiar with the famous song Smells Like Teen Spirit from Nirvana then you’ve heard flams. Dave Grohl plays flams on the snare during the iconic opening of the song.

Check it out.

I hope that answers the question, “What is a flam on drums?”

If you have any input or any questions please feel free to share. And with that being said keep being awesome. I’ll see you next time.

What to do next?

If you are brand new to music, music production, or are interested in learning to play the drums, you can check out my article: What is a DAW? – What Does DAW stand for?

You might also want to check out this article: Acoustic Vs. Electronic Drums – Which One is Right for You?

If you are looking at buying your first drum set or any other musical instrument for that matter, take a look at Zzounds. They have a variety of acoustic drum sets and electronic drum sets for purchase.

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Andrew has been a life long lover of music. Although starting his musical journey on the guitar, (we won't talk about his skills on that particular instrument) he found his true passion was for drumming and making music to share with others. He also enjoys writing blog posts about off the wall subjects that are very much real—such as Bigfoot, UFOs, and what's up with European mayonnaise. Why is it sweet???
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