How to play djembe – Lesson 8 – The flam

Djembe lesson - the flam

The Flam

A flam is musical term used to describe two notes played in quick succession (almost simultaneously). It is ​a technique often used to embellish a part of the song because it creates a​n accent in the music. 

On the djembe it is played with two hands, one hitting the drum slightly before the other. It can start with either the leading or following hand and is usually two tones, two slaps or two bass notes, but all other combinations work (e.g. one bass and one slap, one tone one slap, etc).

The easiest note to start with is probably ​the tone. Use either hand to start and simply play two ​tones, one after the other. Make sure the gap between the notes is very small, but still enough to be heard.

The exact speed at which you play the flam will depend on the tempo of the song you are playing.

Play the notes until you can consistently get the same length every time you play the flam.

​Then move on to experiment with slap flams and bass flams.

The symbol for a flam ​​is shown below, for tone flams, bass flams and slap flams. It also shows the words​ used to sound out the rhythm.

Djembe lesson - the flam - symbols


Each symbol shows two notes, and the words used sound like a flam.

Next, you're ready for a challenge: Lesson 9 - Paradiddles

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