Flam Accent No. 2

One American rudiment that is often forgotten is the Flam Accent No. 2, or more simply a Flam Tap in a 6/8 or Swing feel. It is probable that many modern percussionists and drummers feel as though the Flam Tap can be swung or played in 6/8 without naming it a different rudiment — it is simply a variation of the existing Flam Tap — but historically many authors have taken the opposite position. In my article on the NARD founders’ personal rudiments I previously mentioned how William Ludwig I included the Flam Accent No. 2 in his 1936 and 1942 books, despite it not appearing on the NARD sheets. He was not the only prominent drummer to carve out a separate niche for old No. 2.

The idea of the Flam Accent No. 2 appears to be British in origin, so far as I can tell. The British probably also invented the Inverted Flam Tap, read about it here, and so it would not be surprising if another Flam Tap variation ultimately came from the British system. It is difficult to assess the actual rhythms used in many historical manuals, however, due to the rampant inaccuracy of rhythmic notation, or total lack thereof in many cases. Sticking and Flam indications can sometimes be discerned in older manuals with confidence, but whether the Flam Tap sticking was played with a swinging feel is extremely debatable or completely unknowable. In light of this, the first instance that I have found of a Flam Tap rudiment clearly played in a swing-type rhythm (in this case dotted 8th and 16th notes) comes from Samuel Potter in 1817. He calls the rudiment ‘A Faint and Flam from Hand to Hand’ and it has a different rhythm and sticking from his Flam and Stroke as well as his Flam and Faint, which are both Inverted Flam Tap variations. Later British drum books, such as Tamplini c.1850 and Drum and Flute Duty of 1887, also contained this rudiment, calling it a Flam and Feint or Flam and Faint.

In the USA, the first named instance comes from Bruce and Emmett in 1862, where they appear to coin the term Flam Accent No. 2 and give it a clear 6/8 shuffle rhythm. The name seems to derive from the fact that if you simply remove the middle note from the 3 notes of the standard Flam Accent, you are left with a shuffled or swung Flam Tap.

The rudiment appears in many American and British books through the 19th and early 20th centuries, including in Moeller 1925, Harr 1937, Wilcoxon 1941, the aforementioned Ludwig books, Buggert 1960, and Laas 1966. The last really specific rudimental drum manual to seemingly include it was Feldstein’s Rudiment Dictionary of 1980, though it has popped up in some other places since, such as the 2001 Belwin Band Method (probably as a holdover from many previous editions that date back to the 1950s). The No. 2 rhythm may exist in more modern books, but it is fairly uncommon in the past 20 years or so, likely because writing rudimental music in 6/8 is also uncommon in the 21st century.

The question, of course, arises as to whether we should teach the Flam Accent No. 2 or whether the Flam Tap can simply be interpreted in 2 ways, as many other rudiments are. In practical terms we probably do not NEED a Flam Accent No. 2, and the fact that it only differs in rhythm, and not sticking, from the Flam Tap means it would be out of character in the PAS list. Every other rudiment on there has a unique sticking pattern. From a historical perspective, it is sort of odd that a rudiment would be so flatly ignored when it has existed in some form for at least 205 years in the Anglo-American tradition, and has been taught in printed methods within the 21st century. There are certainly teachers who still teach it and players who still play it. I don’t know if it is essential, but I think it is handy to realize that it exists and has existed for a long time.