Aronoff, Famularo, and Moeller

Seb77

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I'm revisiting matched grip and the Moeller whip for louder playing. Re-watching these videos by Dom Famularo, I thought what he refers to as low Moeller is all you ever need; the medium and full versions seem overkill?

I think all I've ever used was low Moeller, and it's also what I remember seeing from most guys. I have been going for a full stroke motion of the stick lately (stick going up to vertical at the highest point of the whip), but this seems to produce all the volume I could ever need for backbeats.
Famularo mentions Kenny Aronoff as an exampe for "full Moeller". In the video below you can see him lift the stick over his head (0:40min), but it seems more for visual effect in the stadium than for additional volume - the motion is rather slow. Later he gets the same volume with a much smaller motion, doesn't even look like a whip at 1min18. 2min15 would be low Moeller, right? (note the "open-handed" right hand on snare, left hand on hi-hat). 2min32, back to the giant show movement.

In the following, you can see some slight elbow outward movement, but nowhere as big as what Famularo does:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hut8eStCKEo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC0FVXIZwU8

Would you say it's a good idea to teach these super-large motions Famularo shows?

Another question is which fulcrum/fingers to grip the stick with with this technique. I feel most relaxed gripping the stick with the middle finger, I think that's also how Dave Weckls explained it back when I saw him in clinic. Guess the louder you play, the more you also use ring finger or pinky grip?
 

Hop

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Would you say it's a good idea to teach these super-large motions Famularo shows?
To directly answer that question, I would say that I wouldn't teach the super large motions, especially what was demonstrated in the 3rd video clip for a kit drummer. An exception may be if you're teaching the technique to replicate some older style military/parade drumming, like the kind using the large rope tension drums, which is what that motion is derived from.

I think Dom could have been much clearer in video based video descriptions. Like in the 1st video when he describes playing 16th's, "4-notes, with the first being a whip, and 3-free taps..." The term free taps would indicate a rebound (i.e. at the 1:50 mark) and not a wrist-driven tap to me; but later he goes on to just "goose" them through to get 4-notes - if you're really delivering this as one whip + 3 rebounds (free taps) the energy will diminish and become progressively softer sounds. Dom didn't really explain the point of the different joint movements of the arm used in the various Moeller levels either, "the why behind the do" as I like to say. It would help clarify; maybe he does in the book? If he doesn't, then I would not recommend it.


...I'm revisiting matched grip and the Moeller whip for louder playing. Re-watching these videos by Dom Famularo, I thought what he refers to as low Moeller is all you ever need; the medium and full versions seem overkill? I think all I've ever used was low Moeller, and it's also what I remember seeing from most guys. I have been going for a full stroke motion of the stick lately (stick going up to vertical at the highest point of the whip), but this seems to produce all the volume I could ever need for backbeats. Famularo mentions Kenny Aronoff as an example for "full Moeller"....
Yes! I'd say that demo of medium and certainly full Moeller is overkill. Less than perfect technique will introduce inefficiencies and limitations into the stroke, thus the importance of understanding/studying effective technique(s). To create sound on a drum we need to produce a force. Recall, force = mass * acceleration. Once we choose our sticks, our mass (limbs included) will become a constant, thus the force is dependent on the acceleration we can produce. Effective technique can allow you to maximize acceleration to produce the force required to create a loud sound from the drum (putting aside the mechanical limitations of a drum and our own different physical differences). Ineffective technique can waste energy, like Dom's full Moeller demo, where it's quite difficult to produce additional acceleration from the full arm movement compared to the low Moeller. The magic is really in the "whip," as that is where the most efficient acceleration can be generated for the least amount of energy output.

I have to admit I've never been a huge fan of watching Kenny Aronoff, as he struck me as one of those guys that tends to push the mechanical limits of his drums (i.e., heavy hitter club... gee I wonder if he would hit as hard if he was behind plexi?). I see that he also has a 'noisy' right hand that is really apparent in his open-hand playing in 'Crumblin Down.'
 

jaymandude

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To directly answer that question, I would say that I wouldn't teach the super large motions, especially what was demonstrated in the 3rd video clip for a kit drummer. An exception may be if you're teaching the technique to replicate some older style military/parade drumming, like the kind using the large rope tension drums, which is what that motion is derived from.

I think Dom could have been much clearer in video based video descriptions. Like in the 1st video when he describes playing 16th's, "4-notes, with the first being a whip, and 3-free taps..." The term free taps would indicate a rebound (i.e. at the 1:50 mark) and not a wrist-driven tap to me; but later he goes on to just "goose" them through to get 4-notes - if you're really delivering this as one whip + 3 rebounds (free taps) the energy will diminish and become progressively softer sounds. Dom didn't really explain the point of the different joint movements of the arm used in the various Moeller levels either, "the why behind the do" as I like to say. It would help clarify; maybe he does in the book? If he doesn't, then I would not recommend it.




Yes! I'd say that demo of medium and certainly full Moeller is overkill. Less than perfect technique will introduce inefficiencies and limitations into the stroke, thus the importance of understanding/studying effective technique(s). To create sound on a drum we need to produce a force. Recall, force = mass * acceleration. Once we choose our sticks, our mass (limbs included) will become a constant, thus the force is dependent on the acceleration we can produce. Effective technique can allow you to maximize acceleration to produce the force required to create a loud sound from the drum (putting aside the mechanical limitations of a drum and our own different physical differences). Ineffective technique can waste energy, like Dom's full Moeller demo, where it's quite difficult to produce additional acceleration from the full arm movement compared to the low Moeller. The magic is really in the "whip," as that is where the most efficient acceleration can be generated for the least amount of energy output.

I have to admit I've never been a huge fan of watching Kenny Aronoff, as he struck me as one of those guys that tends to push the mechanical limits of his drums (i.e., heavy hitter club... gee I wonder if he would hit as hard if he was behind plexi?). I see that he also has a 'noisy' right hand that is really apparent in his open-hand playing in 'Crumblin Down.'
Man, that was well written. Most excellent.

Without injecting too much of my opinion into this ( which is I believe the term " Moeller" is completely overused and often misunderstood. I'll just add something. I studied for a year or so with Henry Adler, noted old school NYC guru who as around all the original guys. Henry would simulate the act of throwing a baseball to simulate the arm movement. But it wasn't just the whip he was after, it was the release of the fingers at the end of the stroke. So even if you're not playing loudly and lifting that high, the smaller motion is the same. Maybe thats what you're referring to as Low Moeller ?

I was just watching Kenny do a track on youtube the other day. And while he has the arm motion, the backbeats that he nails don't have the same soft touch at the end of the stroke. Maybe someone like Manu Katche might be a better example. MAybe, just thinking out loud on that one..

Yes to the middle finger... That's straight out of Tony Williams.. More on that later
 

Seb77

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even if you're not playing loudly and lifting that high, the smaller motion is the same. Maybe thats what you're referring to as Low Moeller ?
I was referring to the first Famularo video I posted. "Low" as in no raising of the upper arm. Lower arm and stick motion can be quite large, hence my comment that this might be all you need for loud playing.
I might look into a slight outward movement of the elbow, which seems to help with relaxation. Not sure it creates more volume though.
Agree that there are other great hard hitters with great technique. I just chose Aronoff as example since Famularo mentions him. I was going to look at some Omar Hakim for example- He isn't mentioned a lot, but he seems to have great technqiue for loud playing, very relaxed. It's also a question of physiognomy, length of arms etc.
 

ThomasL

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I know that some kit players take lessons in "east coast rudimental drumming" because it helps with looseness, but I don't know how well you can apply it directly to kit playing. On the other hand, in the rudimental style the strokes get lower when the tempo increases and if you keep the volume constant, volume cannot be the reason for the high stroke (large motion)?
 

jaymandude

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I was referring to the first Famularo video I posted. "Low" as in no raising of the upper arm. Lower arm and stick motion can be quite large, hence my comment that this might be all you need for loud playing.
I might look into a slight outward movement of the elbow, which seems to help with relaxation. Not sure it creates more volume though.
Agree that there are other great hard hitters with great technique. I just chose Aronoff as example since Famularo mentions him. I was going to look at some Omar Hakim for example- He isn't mentioned a lot, but he seems to have great technqiue for loud playing, very relaxed. It's also a question of physiognomy, length of arms etc.
Ok, well... I watched the first two. and everything looks fine to me. A little excessive drama in the second video with the wrist twist and the SHOWTIME movement, but whatever :). Ive heard and seen the idea of dragging the tip of the stick across the head as you pull the elbow and wrist back. When you want to show it slowed down that seems to work.

My issue with a lot of this is what happens when you start to play backbeats and lay into the drum. That's where things change and you have to focus on what kind of sound you want. Kenny kind of dead strokes it. Omar is probably looser at the point of backbeat impact. I was watching this guy this morning. Willie Green. You can stop after the intro, but man the band is killing from this era..

 
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The way that the Moeller motions have always been explained (taught) to me by some "technique guru's," has been this.

At the start of learning this stroke, the motions should be VERY big, deliberate, and exaggerated. In time, as you internalize the motions (for the drum set) they become more refined and smaller. After a while, the motions become almost invisible. I think this is what you are seeing and hearing from Dom.

This is what I emphasize with my students who are interested in the Moeller stroke. It takes time and patience to absorb and refine the motions, but it's a worthwhile (however not essential) endeavor.

One explanation that I have stumbled upon is this. I try to have the student feel a flam between when my elbow hits my ribcage and when the tip of the stick hits the drum initially. It's that close, but they are not simultaneous. The "impact" between the elbow and the ribcage happens a millisecond before the sound of the drum.

I like to think of Moeller as using the mass and the strength of your entire arm to create momentum and strength behind the stroke. This momentum can result in volume (a la Aronoff) if you want. But t can also result in "free" notes (speed, chops.) When (or if) you add a degree of finger control (a whole 'nuther subject) and the inclusion of wrist strokes, the result can be pretty effortless.

For me it's never a case of "this or that" (different techniques,) instead it's a combination to create as much result with as little effort as possible. But the quickest way there is with some one on one interaction with a GOOD teacher, and then A LOT of work.

MSG
 

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I try to have the student feel a flam between when my elbow hits my ribcage and when the tip of the stick hits the drum initially. It's that close, but they are not simultaneous. The "impact" between the elbow and the ribcage happens a millisecond before the sound of the drum.
...
I like to think of Moeller as using the mass and the strength of your entire arm to create momentum and strength behind the stroke.
...
the quickest way there is with some one on one interaction with a GOOD teacher, and then A LOT of work.
MSG
Thanks, I'll try the elbow out thing.
Good point about seeing a good teacher. I consider myself more on the teaching side by now, but we are all lifelong students.

edit: the elbow flam idea works really well, thanks! It's a new concept for me to include muscles moving the upper arm. Making the motion really effective might take a while, but that elbow flam thing helps.
 
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cornelius

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I was taught to first (slowly) play the larger, more obvious motions. These deliberate motions allow you to more easily see how to execute the strokes - this applies to learning the Free Stroke and Moeller.

Low and Half Moeller are more common on a typical gig. The extra motion (say for a backbeat) can also help with your time and feel. I don't think I use full Moeller much, but it's a great warm-up on the pad.
 

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Any bookended movement (sticking - phase) is great for Moeller. With a 6 stroke roll it practically occurs naturally if your arms are relaxed. As you speed up the motion is implied in a micro sense; the elbows aren't flapping but the whip is still there - you feel it from rote. Much of drumming is movement and the shape of movements if you abstract it. Even your feet. When you're moving fast you're not really thinking about strokes as much as you are physicality - movement in shapes. it sounds esoteric but it's really not. You could feel a fast single stroke triplet or you could 'see it' as a alternating movement, concentrating on the accented notes.
 

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Meanwhile I found this video by our German Moller "guru". Here he demonstrates a later Chapin concept, with no hanging stick, meaning the stick never goes past horizontal, yet it's a whipping motion.

I like that, I get more than enough volume that way most of the time, elbow is at rest again. I also noticed I much prefer the stick being in a straight line with the lower arm, palm not on top (more like the hybrid American grip Famularo mentions). Gonna teach those economical motions to my students after summer.
 

cornelius

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Meanwhile I found this video by our German Moller "guru". Here he demonstrates a later Chapin concept, with no hanging stick, meaning the stick never goes past horizontal, yet it's a whipping motion.

I like that, I get more than enough volume that way most of the time, elbow is at rest again. I also noticed I much prefer the stick being in a straight line with the lower arm, palm not on top (more like the hybrid American grip Famularo mentions). Gonna teach those economical motions to my students after summer.
I've never checked out his videos - he's collaborated with Dom on some things. His Freestroke is great - no wasted wind up and with his accents you can really see that he's getting true rebound. The only thing I find confusing, is when he plays really slowly, how he plays the downstroke and upstroke. The downstroke comes back almost like a full stroke - interesting take... I don't understand what he's saying so I wonder what his explanation is.

I like playing the whip in German, I find it easy to play. Lately I've been shedding the whip in French - your wrist turns inward on the upstroke.
 
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Seb77

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I've never checked out his videos - he's collaborated with Dom on some things. His Freestroke is great - no wasted wind up and with his accents you can really see that he's getting true rebound. The only thing I find confusing, is when he plays really slowly, how he plays the downstroke and upstroke. The downstroke comes back almost like a full stroke - interesting take... I don't understand what he's saying so I wonder what his explanation is.
There's another video by Claus about the downstroke/upstroke nomenclature, but I think it's German, too.
What he's saying is, as far as I understand it, there are different schools of thought.
1) Gladstone/Stone/Morello: formal accents without moving the lower arm. Down and up refer to a changed position of the stick tip after the stroke. A full stroke means the stick tip is at full height before the stroke, and after. A downstroke here means starting from the high position for a loud stroke, then stopping the motion after the stroke to continue with a soft stroke. An upstroke starts low (soft volume) the the stick is lifted to conitnue with a loud stroke.
2) Moeller/Chapin: down and up refer to the movement of the lower arm during the stroke. A downstroke means downward movement of the arm, nothing more. The stick tip does whatever it does within the whipping motion - and afterwards it is free to bounce (unless you want to continue very softly, I guess).
The upstroke is a stroke of the wrist while the lower arm moves upwards.
 


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