The Flam and the Three Stroke Ruff

flam variationsI can never emphasize enough the importance of rudiments in the toolbox of any decent drummer. Rudiments are different stroke patterns played with the hands.

The difference lies between the order, the accentuation and the repetition of different strokes. According to PAS’s reference (Percussive Arts Society), there are 40 basic rudiments that you can learn.

Rudiments are really like bricks at a construction, and in order to be able to build a stable building you need really massive and reliable bricks.

1. The Flam And Its Variations

The flam is the most basic rudiment which involves the playing of a ghost note. A ghost note is a note with a very subtle accentuation, a rather silent hit on the drums. A flam is the combination of a ghost note and a usual note. In order to play a flam smoothly, you should put your hands one next to the other, with one of your hands lying higher than the other.

The lower hand will play the ghost note immediately before the higher hand plays the regular note. In the next step, you should raise the hand which played the ghost note higher than the other, so the roles change. Repeating this at a higher tempo will result in an interesting roll that is similar to the double stroke roll, having an interesting swing thanks to the varied accentuation.

The flam has almost the highest range of variations. Some of the “spiced up” flams include the flam tap, the flamacue, the flam paradiddle or the quite oddly named pataflafla.

2. The Three Stroke Ruff… or the Drag?

When it comes to the three stroke ruff, there is a tiny confusion regarding the name of the rudiment. The rudiment we are going to talk about has been known as the “ruff” for ages, yet in recent publications it is usually referred to as the drag. Yes, what you might have known as the drag previously has also changed its name; it is now known as the “drag tap”.

The basic three stroke ruff is similar to the flam in the way it is delivered, so the position of your hands should be the same as in the case of the flam. The difference is between the ghost notes: when playing a three stroke ruff you have to play a double stroke ghost note before the regular note. That is, you let your lower hand bounce back and play another ghost note after delivering the first one.

The three stroke ruff is also the basis for a few other rudiments, including the double drag tap or the rudiment named “Lesson 25”.

3. Experimenting Around

Before “leveling up” one thing you have to make sure is that your notes are played evenly: that is, your ghost notes have their volume and your regular notes have their own volume, a little (or a lot) higher than the drumming ghost notes. Once you can steadily provide the evenness needed to provide a smooth repetition of these rudiments, you can move on and try new things. A very useful exercise is to make your volume range narrower.

That is, if you have previously been playing everything on a scale of one to ten, you can now try to play it on a scale of one to six or even on to four. Practiced persistently, this exercise can make your hands more confident, giving you a more precise volume handling: smaller volume differences are harder to tell apart and also harder to learn and practice.

   

   

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