Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hand motions for Stone flam studies

It's a funny thing, there's endless online conversation about how to play an open roll, and virtually nothing about flams. They're off the radar for some reason. And with the book Stick Control, NOBODY every talks about anything but page 1... scratch that, the first thirteen exercises on page 1. So let's get our stuff together, and get into the most miserable part of that book, the flam portion— pp. 16-23. As with the first part of the book, there are eighteen one- and two-beat exercises, which are then combined to make a total of 192 exercises. It's a real drag.

What I've done here is taken those first eighteen basic exercises and isolated the motion for each hand— the rhythm, the dynamics for the grace note, and any up or down strokes needed to make the dynamics happen. As you know, a flam is comprised of a main note, and a soft grace note that lands slightly before it. An up stroke is a soft note that ends with the stick in the raised position, and a down stroke is a normal-volume note that ends with the stick low— close to the head. Play 1-2" strokes for the grace notes, and 5-9" strokes for everything else. On the first exercise I've indicated a full stroke— a normal volume note that ends with the stick raised— for the lead hand part. You should actually play full strokes on all notes not indicated as a downstroke or upstroke. A lot of people habitually downstroke everything.

Play the parts for each hand in isolation. Initially I prefer to do the hand motions as fast as possible, rather than making them part of the rhythmic flow; so no matter how slow the tempo, you do a fast rebound or upstroke. See this post or get a Skype lesson with me (see the sidebar) for more technical guidelines.

As you do these faster, you have to streamline the hand motion, of course. But if you follow the dynamics rigorously at slow to moderate speeds, your normal-usage flams will improve dramatically, as will your accents, ghost notes, and dynamics in general.

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1 comment:

Joe said...

"It's a real drag."

Very droll!