Default Flams/triplets/quads - left hand first?

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Hey all,

I'm used to "right hand first" when it comes to a flam.

Same with triplets between the floor tom, rack tom and bass drum. "A Bonham triplet?"

Or, with a quad between the floor tom, rack tom, and bass drums.

For the triplets, what I've been doing is to play the first note of the triplet on the floor tom (right hand), second note on the rack tom (left hand), and the third note of the triplet on the bass drum. But, to me it sounds "better" to go from high to low which is first note on the rack tom, second on the floor and third on the bass drum.

After playing drums for decades, leading the triplet with the left hand just isn't something I'm used to. I tried it recently in my practice sessions and not sure how long it would take to get used to this. I've also tried "crossing my arms", and playing the first note on the rack tom my right hand, second note on the floor with my left, and third with the bass drum. It works. I can also see why some people might have a floor tom on their left by the hi-hat.

Same kinda thing for quads. I can cross over my arms and be able to have the rack tom first.

Or I can just hit the low tom first (right hand) and high tom second (left hand).

Any input would be appreciated. Y'all are probably gonna tell me to get off my lazy ass and learn how to lead a flam/triplet/quad with the left hand.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Re: Flams/triplets/quads - left hand first?

Any input would be appreciated. Y'all are probably gonna tell me to get off my lazy ass and learn how to lead a flam/triplet/quad with the left hand.
I was going to be more supportive than that, but yeah, pretty much. :)

Not only should you learn to lead with the left, but you should also practice putting the down beat on the other hand, or on the foot. There's some really cool vocabulary and licks to be found in these other, less common variations. So, there's

1. RLB, BRL, LBR

2. LRB, BLR, RBL

Then, if you switch which hand leads, after every 3 notes, you get these.

1. RLB LRB (obviously you would play continuous triplets of groups of three, I just put the space in for ease of reading).
2. RBR LBL
3. BRL BLR

In order to keep track of the pulse, play the left foot on the downbeat. If you don't do this, you'll lose track of which note is "first". This is not a "quick tip", one hour lesson; it'll take time to develop speed, and the balance will be tricky. But, totally worth it! Obviously you can do the same thing with doubles on the kick, just add a bass drum note to the above phrases.

At first, try the groupings by themselves, without the left foot. Then, add the hi-hat foot every three notes (triplets). Finally, add the hi-hat note every four notes (16ths).
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Re: Flams/triplets/quads - left hand first?

I was going to be more supportive than that, but yeah, pretty much. :)

Not only should you learn to lead with the left, but you should also practice putting the down beat on the other hand, or on the foot. There's some really cool vocabulary and licks to be found in these other, less common variations. So, there's

1. RLB, BRL, LBR

2. LRB, BLR, RBL

Then, if you switch which hand leads, after every 3 notes, you get these.

1. RLB LRB (obviously you would play continuous triplets of groups of three, I just put the space in for ease of reading).
2. RBR LBL
3. BRL BLR

In order to keep track of the pulse, play the left foot on the downbeat. If you don't do this, you'll lose track of which note is "first". This is not a "quick tip", one hour lesson; it'll take time to develop speed, and the balance will be tricky. But, totally worth it! Obviously you can do the same thing with doubles on the kick, just add a bass drum note to the above phrases.

At first, try the groupings by themselves, without the left foot. Then, add the hi-hat foot every three notes (triplets). Finally, add the hi-hat note every four notes (16ths).
Hey brentcn, thanks for a great reply and the exercises! Sorry but can you clarify what you mean about playing the left foot on the downbeat? Do you mean playing the hi-hat with the left foot on the downbeats (in the case of the triplets)? Or something else? For the quads, my left foot would of course be on the slave bass drum pedal.

Thanks!
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
Re: Flams/triplets/quads - left hand first?

For the quads, my left foot would of course be on the slave bass drum pedal.

Thanks!
In order to play the left foot on the downbeat, on the hi-hat, your right foot has got to play the doubles.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Re: Flams/triplets/quads - left hand first?

I'm pretty lazy so I assume I always lead with my dominant right hand. I really have no motivation to change. I have enough stuff to do :)
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Re: Flams/triplets/quads - left hand first?

I'm pretty lazy so I assume I always lead with my dominant right hand. I really have no motivation to change. I have enough stuff to do :)
Do you ever cross your arms or just always go floor Tom / rack Tom / bass drum (or something similar)?
 

TMe

Senior Member
I took a few lessons from a drummer who had an orchestral background. When discussing flams, he gave me a puzzled look and asked, "Why would anyone ever start a flam with their left hand?"

For a moment I thought he was joking, but I don't think so.

He certainly had a point regarding flams. For the garage Rock stuff I play, when would I ever lead a flam with my weak hand? Maybe I'd be better off learning to control the spacing and dynamics of my flams than seeing how quickly I can peel off flamadiddles.

That's something that doesn't get much discussion among kit drummers. There's a whole orchestral tradition of playing the snare drum that might be more relevant to playing a drum kit. Some of us get obsessed with the rudimental (marching band) stuff and tend to ignore the orchestral tradition.
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
It's very important to be able to lead with either hand. It's a noticeable expansion to your drumming vocabulary; quite literally the same as knowing how to use either "Top" or "Pot" in a sentence as required.
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
"Why would anyone ever start a flam with their left hand?"

For a moment I thought he was joking, but I don't think so.

He certainly had a point regarding flams. For the garage Rock stuff I play, when would I ever lead a flam with my weak hand?
There's a beginning snare book, by Vic Firth (Snare Method I), and the second exercise on flams is left-handed. Many of the remaining exercises use flams in both directions. The sticking is explicity stated, and there are pictures of Vic himself demonstrating right and left hand flams. Vic Firth really wants his students to learn flams both ways.

In orchestral playing, it's quite often necessary to play pieces that sound smoother, and are more easily sight-read, while employing flams off the left, and off the right. Playing flams only one way limits your vocabulary, speed, and musicality.

But hey, what did a guy like Vic Firth know about left-handed flams? He was only the principal percussionist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he obtained at age 25.

In "garage rock", sure, it's fine to sound less-than-technical. In some cases, it adds to the charm of it all. But you can't apply that ethos to that genre as a whole, or any other genre, be it orchestral, marching, or even punk.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
There's a beginning snare book, by Vic Firth (Snare Method I), and the second exercise on flams is left-handed. Many of the remaining exercises use flams in both directions. The sticking is explicity stated, and there are pictures of Vic himself demonstrating right and left hand flams. Vic Firth really wants his students to learn flams both ways.

In orchestral playing, it's quite often necessary to play pieces that sound smoother, and are more easily sight-read, while employing flams off the left, and off the right. Playing flams only one way limits your vocabulary, speed, and musicality.

But hey, what did a guy like Vic Firth know about left-handed flams? He was only the principal percussionist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he obtained at age 25.

In "garage rock", sure, it's fine to sound less-than-technical. In some cases, it adds to the charm of it all. But you can't apply that ethos to that genre as a whole, or any other genre, be it orchestral, marching, or even punk.
Vic was principal timpanist, not percussion. But your point is solid. Every rudiment is meant to be mastered with both stickings. Especially simple ones like flams.
 

TMe

Senior Member
But hey, what did a guy like Vic Firth know about left-handed flams? He was only the principal percussionist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he obtained at age 25.
I wasn't trying to disrespect orchestral drumming, to the contrary.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Interesting distinction between rudimental and orchestral playing. Never really thought of it like that. Thanks for something to think about.

It's good to see people suggesting left hand lead. It's something I neglected practicing when I was younger, but have come to believe is part of what is holding back my playing... which has always felt a bit lopsided, as if playing anything to the right on the kit was fine, but playing anything to the left was hit-or-miss.

Last year I started working through 4-Way Coordination - and leading with both sides of both hands and feet is a good part of it. I've since converted about 3/4 of my practice time to practicing everything leading with my left side.

I also added a floor tom to the left of my hi-hat, and now I don't like playing without it. Sure, I could use it as a crutch to still play right hand lead and have the descending drums thing, but the new musical possibilities are reason enough for having one. (Try R-L-F L-R-F L-R-F with R alternating between hi-tom and floor tom and L playing only the other floor tom).

So, yeah, practice left hand lead, as much as you can. At least for a while. Start slow. It'll take time, but it's worth it.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Interesting distinction between rudimental and orchestral playing. Never really thought of it like that.
Yeah, I'm out of my depth, so I'll shut up.

I had the impression that orchestral drummers and parade drummers took different approaches, but that's based on second-hand info, not personal experience.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
They do take different approaches-- concert percussionists to tend to play flams and ruffs right handed for consistency. But they sure practice left handed flams, even if they don't play them on the job as often.

Right handed flam means the right hand plays the big note, and the left hand plays the little note, and the little note comes first.

Like every orchestral player, Firth played general percussion as well as timpani. It's why he started making snare drum sticks, so he could use them at work.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
The first couple of years I played drums I thought left handed flams came way easier. Probably had a bit to do with several things:

- Left hand playing the big note is like a back beat.
- More control in the right hand for the little note.
- There's also a general coordination aspect.

Doesn't matter much now. I do everything left hand lead as well and I've played open-handed a lot.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Learning to lead with both hands is the way to go. Rudiments develop your hands in ways that translate to other stuff you do on the drum set that can come in handy. Look at a pata-fla-fla, for instance. If you isolate each hand, you are playing three-note groupings, but one hand is accenting the first note and the other is accenting the last. If you learn to play that leading with both hands, you've developed something that can easily be applied to hi-hat and ride cymbal beats. You're not thinking, "I'm gonna play a pata-fla-fla here," you just have this facility you developed working on rudiments. Just to give one example.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Sure, I could use it as a crutch to still play right hand lead and have the descending drums thing
Ha! I must admit, the thought is very tempting and this crossed my mind! :)

But I'll try working on leading with my left hand, plus I don't want to carry another floor tom.
 
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