Is there a playing technique equivalent to what is called "flam"?

I would like to assign the “flam” playing technique to a sound sample. “flam” itself is not offered in the list of playback techniques. I haven’t heard of that term before and wonder how common it is. Would a native English speaker use another term instead? Or should I just go along and create a “flam” playing technique?

Would love to hear your opinion on that. Thank you!

(Technically I now know that it is a grace note figure. Dorico could calculate the grace note and initiate “Natural” sample of a sample library, and it would most likely work fine. However, for the sake of completeness I would like to map the sample to that playing technique.)

I created my own, but I think there might be a way to set it up on a percussion staff so that you don’t need to.

But you stick with the term “flam”? Or do you use another term?

I just made a crude drawing, but it is named ‘flam’:

It looks awful on the page, but it’s to get the correct playback. If it was for a real player, I’d just notate it in the orthodox way as you say, a grace note – or notes, in the case of drags & ruffs

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Thank you very much for sharing and explaining, very much appreciated! (I guess I would just with the term “flam” and still notate a grace note and suppress its playback; and probably hide “flam”…)

Anyway, I was just wondering, if “flam” is indeed the term to use. I am not a native speaker, never heard the term before, and only found the term so far in EW Percussion [didn’t check any other libraries yet].

What is your experience? How common is the term? Is it one that is used in classical orchestras? Or is it percussion-specific? Can it also be used with a flute or violin, e.g.? (I have scores lying around, but nowhere find that term in any of them…)

As far as I know, it is the standard term, as are the others – drag & ruff – across genres.

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Flam is a percussion way of saying 1 grace note, drag is 2 grace notes (with 1 hand) and a ruff is most of the times 3 grace notes (hand to hand). This are terms from rudimental (snare)drumming .

All the rudiments have there name so you can more easily learn them.

In notation a flam is 1 grace note. Sound libraries often have special samples for flams because the sound of playback is better then. But then you have to make an playing technique. But the notation is not correct then. So I think you have to decide do I want correct notation or the best sound.

Drummers/percusionist use the terms of the rudiments often, it is very common.

In German it is Vorschlag in Dutch Voorslag that are translations of grace note. So I would say Flam is a name in use of drummers but not in notation, then it is just grace note.


Thank you so much, @Maarten_Kruijswijk ! That is very helpful!

I have no problem setting up the terms for playback. And Dorico is really excellent in offering all those options like “Suppress playback” (for grace notes in this case) and “Hide” (for the playback technique to be applied, here “flam” and the others).

Thank you again to all of you for helping me understand! :slight_smile:


It seems the essential point of a “flam” is that it - grace note(s) and main note - is played in one hand only? No LH-RH?

The thing with rudiments is you pronounce them like they sound. That is why thisn names are helpfull if you learn them.

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It is always altering. So LH grace note, RH main note or the other way around. You can not play a flam with 1 hand. It is almost impossible to get the right flam sound then. In that way you can say it is a playing technique notated as a grace note.

A drag is 2 grace notes LH, LH, RH.

A 3 stroke ruff is most of the times 2 grace notes RH, LH, RH. so almost the same with different sticking and fore that reason different sound.

Update: If you write for a drummer, please don’t write the sticking he will do well. Unless it is for education to learn somebody the rudiments.


@Maarten_Kruijswijk Excellent! Thanks a thousand times! The images on the site you posted really confused me and seem to postulate the opposite of what you say. But everything clear now!

No, I never write instructions for instrumentalists unless really, really necessary! :slight_smile: