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Grace Note Theory - Part 3

Grace Note Theory Part 1 focused on types of grace notes (tap balanced, isolated, beefy). Gracy Note Theory Part 2 looked at the spacing between the grace note and the accented stroke. Our final blog in this series reviews uncommon variations with grace notes and how they can challenge our more advanced players. We will look at Blams, Malfs, and Ghosts.
1. Blams I learned about blams when I was 18 and just made RCC’s winter drumline. In this grace note variation, the grace note is accented with the primary hand. This poses a new challenge for the player, including maintaining the flam space (refer to part 2 of the series) while matching the velocity between the grace note hand and the other hand. Some players play double stops based on prior conditioning and need to re-learn how to open the space between the partials. I encourage all our hungry lions out there to work through your flam rudiments with blams. The energy shift between the accented grace note to subsequent taps is increased and requires a mature understanding of downstroke optimization. Take the challenge.
2. Malfs This is a fun variation that can get frustrating fast. This looks like a common flam, except the accents are reversed; the grace note is accented and the hand that is normal accented is a tap. The feeling in the hands will feel foreign, but it challenges the player to understand the control and pressure points within new environments. No judge or instructor will ever give you “credit” for doing these well, but the internal win is mastering unorthodox hand shift changes that will help you stay relaxed and balanced on more challenging music that has similar shift changes in the future.
3. Ghosts I wanted to discuss ghost strokes because they seemed to have gone obsolete, BUT THEY’RE SO COOL. Ghosting is when the player does not actually hit the drum head when playing the accented hand. It has a cool visual effect but more importantly, I found it was beneficial on my tap balanced grace notes (reference to part 1 of the series). When playing the rudiment “Flam Accents” with ghost strokes on the accents, I am able to hear how balanced my grace notes are to the rest of the taps. The challenge is ghosted flam drags. I have found I can hear my diddle quality and rhythmic accuracy more clear when ghosting the accents. It’s another way to train your brain and ears on the mechanics within the taps. And as we have discussed in previous blogs, taps are the foundation of drumming like water is essential for life. Be on the lookout for IQ test music that has these grace note variations. As always, Drum Smart.
Author: Matt Regua
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