Flam Trouble

Dirk

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Newbie learning flams. Sound and feel are coming along pleasantly on the pad and much of the time on the heads...but, and this is particularly apparent on (but not limited to) the hi tom: Whether it’s an lR or a rL it feels and sounds like the second stroke makes head contact at the wrong time, wrong phase on the head. It feels (and the sound is defective too) like jumping on a trampoline, in phase with the membrane, everything is working, and then on one jump the timing is out of phase and you don’t get catapulted very high...it’s just a dud. The timing is off. It feels like crap.

Is it simply “just keep practicing young (not) man and it will come”? I’m working on it/sticking per this guy/video starting at two minutes:

TIA for any assistance,

John
 

RIDDIM

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Without seeing/hearing you play, it's hard to offer constructive input.

That said, it might help to exaggerate your movements a bit, with the accents at the 12:00 position and the grace notes maybe an inch off the pad. Then do this at all dynamic levels and with a metronome. Record yourself. Does it sound even? Do you have just a tiny bit of space between the hits? Haskell Harr Book 1 has photos that might be useful, I think.

There's a section in which he discusses flams. https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=haskell+harr+book+1+++how+to+play+flams+photos&fr=yhs-iba-syn&type=asbw_8923_CHW_US_tid22067&hspart=iba&hsimp=yhs-syn&imgurl=https://d29ci68ykuu27r.cloudfront.net/items/8276513/look_insides/large_file/file_8_page_1.png#id=3&iurl=https://d29ci68ykuu27r.cloudfront.net/items/8276513/look_insides/large_file/file_8_page_1.png&action=click

You might not be able to maintain this much separation at fast tempos, but you'll hopefully better understand what it's supposed to sound and feel like.

For starters, you might slow things down until you can execute things correctly. It's all about control. When you can execute cleanly at a given tempo, up the tempo.

BTW, do this on a pillow as well as a pad.

This might be worth a listen too:
. It'll give you an idea of how they should sound.
 
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toddbishop

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Newbie learning flams. Sound and feel are coming along pleasantly on the pad and much of the time on the heads...but, and this is particularly apparent on (but not limited to) the hi tom: Whether it’s an lR or a rL it feels and sounds like the second stroke makes head contact at the wrong time, wrong phase on the head. It feels (and the sound is defective too) like jumping on a trampoline, in phase with the membrane, everything is working, and then on one jump the timing is out of phase and you don’t get catapulted very high...it’s just a dud. The timing is off. It feels like crap.

This is normally something you do in person with a teacher, but if you post some video I can comment on what you're doing. Don't rely on stick bounce to play flams.

Is it simply “just keep practicing young (not) man and it will come”? I’m working on it/sticking per this guy/video starting at two minutes:

That's a terrible video. What he says is not wrong, his form is terrible. Playing the grace note 8" off the drum is acceptable in rock & roll, but it's bad form. The little note is played close to the head-- lift it as little as possible, or not at all. The point of flam position is that your hands are already at the right height to play the notes, so you don't lift them some more before playing the downward part of the stroke.

Videos produced by the Vic Firth company are usually good.
 

Pat A Flafla

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Alternating flams are basically opposing downstrokes and upstrokes, while consecutive flams are full strokes in one hand while the other plays taps. If your flams are consistently flat, either your tap/upstroke is starting too high, or you're prepping up with those strokes from a low resting point instead of simply letting gravity take that low stick down from its low spot.

For better alternating flams, isolate the quality stroke development of each hand separately by working a basic accent/tap exercise, focusing on maintaining a very low "control stroke" stop at the tap level, and not prepping upward before the upstroke.

TL;DR: Don't lift the low stick up. Make sure it's dropping from 3" or less (IMO, preferably much less), and that that's where the previous stroke leaves that stick.

There are always exceptions. Sometimes I like to play a fat, huge, back-scratching flam for effect. That's a totally different thing, though even then my left starts at least 8-10" lower than my right.
 

ARGuy

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In almost every beginning band book they introduce flams way too soon, IMO. "Flams are easy; you just play both hands at the same time!" Flams played correctly are NOT easy and when you don't know how to explain and teach them they end up looking like that first video.
Lots of great advice so far!
 

Pat A Flafla

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In almost every beginning band book they introduce flams way too soon, IMO. "Flams are easy; you just play both hands at the same time!" Flams played correctly are NOT easy and when you don't know how to explain and teach them they end up looking like that first video.
Lots of great advice so far!
Yes, after DS/US/FS/T, I tend to prefer focusing short supply beginner practice time on developing quality bounces. Three Camps before Downfall!
 

Dirk

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All: Thanks for the help. I'll work on it based on the advice and videos you provided. As soon as I figure out how to post a video from my phone , I will! It looks like I can only insert still photographs

What is FS/T?

Three camps before downfall??

Thanks again,
 
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ARGuy

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Three Camps and Downfall of Paris. I'm assuming that he's referring to a couple of rudimental drum solos that many have learned back in the day.

DS/US/FS/T? I have no idea what that is either.
Three Camps uses rolls but no flams, whereas Downfall uses a lot of flams as well.
DS = down stroke, US = up stroke, FS = full stroke and T = tap. These are the key to making flams sound and look the way they are supposed to.
 

Seb77

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particularly apparent on (but not limited to) the hi tom: Whether it’s an lR or a rL it feels and sounds like the second stroke makes head contact at the wrong time, wrong phase on the head. It feels (and the sound is defective too) like jumping on a trampoline, in phase with the membrane, everything is working, and then on one jump the timing is out of phase and you don’t get catapulted very high...it’s just a dud. The timing is off. It feels like crap.
I think this is just physics. On toms, especially tuned lower, the vibration is slower than on snare, plus you have more fundamental tone. I don't play a lot of flams on toms, maybe for that reason - I guess I might also catch this out of phase moment you describe so aptly.
Maybe you find the perfect timing for a flam on a given tom with a given pitch, but there is a certain randomness to this.

This will be the same with any fast figures btw. If you like playing these on toms, maybe tune a bit higher. Not sure if the same pitch on a larger drum will make things easier. however, check out Tony WIliams: on the big yellow kit he used 13" and 14" rack toms tuned almost as tight a snare batter heads, great for falms and rolls.
 

Pat A Flafla

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FWIW, I've found that the lower the tuning, the more open the flam needs to be, and vice versa. Flams on cranked DCI snarelines are practically flat now. They can be because the batter head frequency is so high. I find myself having to consciously open up my flams when I play on my old school marching snare at medium tension, even though that's how I initially leaned to play flams ( learned on a med tension Acro).
 

Dirk

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I think this is just physics. On toms, especially tuned lower, the vibration is slower than on snare, plus you have more fundamental tone. I don't play a lot of flams on toms, maybe for that reason - I guess I might also catch this out of phase moment you describe so aptly.
Maybe you find the perfect timing for a flam on a given tom with a given pitch, but there is a certain randomness to this.

This will be the same with any fast figures btw. If you like playing these on toms, maybe tune a bit higher. Not sure if the same pitch on a larger drum will make things easier. however, check out Tony WIliams: on the big yellow kit he used 13" and 14" rack toms tuned almost as tight a snare batter heads, great for falms and rolls.
Thank you! That makes sense to me.

I think I have modestly passable beginner flams on the snare; obviously there must be room for improvement but the problem that jumped out at me in flashing lights is limited to the toms; not just the hi but that's the one of focus in the larger exercise that I posted.

I watched the Vic video before my AM practice today; that was very helpful and I attempted to employ that guy's instruction to my left and right flam practice for about 20 min each side on the practice pad. For the time being I think I'll not concern myself too much with the problem occurring with the exercise that includes the toms and just focus flam work on PP and snare; and I'll lean on the Vic video.
 

kzac

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Newbie learning flams. Sound and feel are coming along pleasantly on the pad and much of the time on the heads...but, and this is particularly apparent on (but not limited to) the hi tom: Whether it’s an lR or a rL it feels and sounds like the second stroke makes head contact at the wrong time, wrong phase on the head. It feels (and the sound is defective too) like jumping on a trampoline, in phase with the membrane, everything is working, and then on one jump the timing is out of phase and you don’t get catapulted very high...it’s just a dud. The timing is off. It feels like crap.

Is it simply “just keep practicing young (not) man and it will come”? I’m working on it/sticking per this guy/video starting at two minutes:

TIA for any assistance,

John

I would say change up, use flam taps and Flam accents to get your technique under control. Remember the accent is placed on the second impact (not the first) changing over to flam accents will force a ghost note pattern which accentuates the accented note of the flam... It should sound like a V8 with a performance camshaft.

I would recon your issue with your higher pitched tom is relative to reach and therefore muscle memory, not knowing the relative pitch and position.
I wouldn't be concerned with the one drum however, I would suggest focusing on the flam taps or flam accents.... get it correct at a much slower tempo first ... then gradually speed up, holding consistency.
It took a while for me to learn that drumming speed did not come at the same pace for everyone. My open stroke rolls (what they call double stroke today) were muddy until I slowed down the tempo and learned how to play them as if they were triplets. My snare line compadres use yell at me for my muddy open rolls ... until I focused on slowing things down and making them very clean.. after that I was fine.
The same I think is true with your flams
 

Pat A Flafla

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Thank you! That makes sense to me.

I think I have modestly passable beginner flams on the snare; obviously there must be room for improvement but the problem that jumped out at me in flashing lights is limited to the toms; not just the hi but that's the one of focus in the larger exercise that I posted.

I watched the Vic video before my AM practice today; that was very helpful and I attempted to employ that guy's instruction to my left and right flam practice for about 20 min each side on the practice pad. For the time being I think I'll not concern myself too much with the problem occurring with the exercise that includes the toms and just focus flam work on PP and snare; and I'll lean on the Vic video.
If you already have good snare flams, just open up them up more on toms. Use your ear to dial in a new situational muscle memory.
 

Dirk

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I’ve been working on this, via Vic video, half hour sessions focusing on just grace note left, main note right. That’s coming along and I’m starting to work on the other side now. I’m trying to be able to control how open the flam is; I’m not, and wouldn’t expect to be, terribly reliable with it but there is improvement.

It’s tricky; the better I get, the farther I realize that there is to go! Funny, and somewhat universal, that!
 

Pat A Flafla

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I’ve been working on this, via Vic video, half hour sessions focusing on just grace note left, main note right. That’s coming along and I’m starting to work on the other side now. I’m trying to be able to control how open the flam is; I’m not, and wouldn’t expect to be, terribly reliable with it but there is improvement.

It’s tricky; the better I get, the farther I realize that there is to go! Funny, and somewhat universal, that!
Remember to not mash the grace note down. Let it drop via gravity as much as possible while you propel the primary stick. The idea of opposing levels of effort can be tricky at first.
 

Dirk

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Remember to not mash the grace note down. Let it drop via gravity as much as possible while you propel the primary stick. The idea of opposing levels of effort can be tricky at first.

Remember to not mash the grace note down. Let it drop via gravity as much as possible while you propel the primary stick. The idea of opposing levels of effort can be tricky at first.
That's what I'm finding most tricky! Since I can't control it directly with muscles and the timing varies depending on everything, especially the start height and how much I'm trying to open the flam up...and the variability of my FS start height, all of which I'm unable to control real well.

I'm trying to do them fairly open and slowly 'cause my timing errors seem more obvious than when tight.

Kinesthetic memory comes slowly and I doubt that being north of 60 helps; but improvement is happening so that's to the good.

Appreciate the help. Now I'm back to plowing through years of neglected filing....feel like a snow plow but streaming Blues Radio, Athens, Greece helps a lot.
 


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