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Tony Williams "Playing with the Hand, Not the Wrist..."

MarcCrossland

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Hello DFO members,

After watching this clip of TW :

I was wondering what he meant when he said "he does not rely on rebound" - @ 9:00 ...Vinnie appears around 27:50
As for as clarity goes, I think Tony Williams shines brightest. His doubles and singles (and of course ride playing) is really something to strive for. He could play the most delicate stuff with the same energy as an explosive blur of singles/doubles.

Aside from the clip (there's three parts) being a joy to watch, I wanted to see if anyone here had any more insight on what Tony William's technique was all about?

To my understanding you have:
push/pull ; throw/catch; etc. - with the fingers playing the dominant control role (through the upstroke)
Moeller - whip motion that combines the use of forearm/elbow - I do not see much Moeller going on with Tony's playing.


Tony was someone who you wanted to listen to - whether you are a drummer or not. What a fantastic player. His thoughts on composition, and playing with other musicians is spot on.

So what the heck does "playing by the hand" supposed to mean?
 
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RIDDIM

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My take on it is that he strove not to rely on rebound.
 

Sonorholic

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His grip was more from the back of the hand and the last two fingers than the thumb/first finger. You can see in pictures where the pinky and ring fingers are the only ones on the stick. That's all I can tell you.. I've never tried to play like that.
 

zenghost

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Some time ago, on the houseofdrumming.com forum, a member gave an account of the private lessons he received from Tony and there being insistence by Tony to develop finely tuned muscular control as the foundational approach to technique as opposed to using rebound - an essentially counter-intuitive approach to playing to a lot of people (myself included). As I understand it, he was a proponent of essentially muscling the stick, at least more so than other techniques.

Obviously, it worked for Tony and probably accounted for a significant part of his sound and physical approach. However, not everyone's cup of tea.
 

JDA

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some may have never heard
the 2nd of his first two solo albums.
released (1st one) in 1964 the (2nd one) in 1965

both must haves.
(or not)
1st one is a pretty difficult listen. 2nd has a hit on it.

Love Song.
another -one of the greatest- Mr. Williams tracks.
where opening measures of the head, he splits 5 in half
accent 1 and the 'and of 3.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=anthony+williams+love+song
1965.
worth a listen
 
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JDA

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he may mean 'practicing on pillows'. Where there is, no rebound. So you, have to lift the sticks.
There's so much to 'another person' -one thing is never enough to describe everything..
We all end up doing things anyway, our own way.
v
v
v
The album is called " Spring"
v
v
 

MarcCrossland

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When I started playing drums in high-school I was determined to play like tre cool. The only sensible way for me was to play "Dookie" on a pillow with the sticks flipped around. It helped tremendously to build strength and coordination.
It really just comes down to what you want to strive for. Tony Williams was a player who made every note count, and I love that.
"playing by the hand" sounds more like a controlled stroke, where the fingers don't leave the stick, with the stress on pinky/ring as the sort of "anchor".
Gonna check out "Echo" now, very cool. Thanks all.
 

Treviso1

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Sonorholic said:
His grip was more from the back of the hand and the last two fingers than the thumb/first finger. You can see in pictures where the pinky and ring fingers are the only ones on the stick. That's all I can tell you.. I've never tried to play like that.
Exactly what Sonorholic said. When I saw him in clinic a year or so before his death, he talked about his grip quite a bit. He held the sticks by his pinky and ring finger, with the middle, index, and thumb being quite loose. He specifically said that he did not rely on bounce, but rather the stroke and momentum of the stick and concentrated more on the upswing than the downswing. He did that amazing warmup going from singles to doubles to paradiddles to double paradiddles to triples and triple paradiddles and you simply couldn't hear the transition...it was that smooth. I had never seen/witnessed anything like it either before or since. What a gift...what a drummer!
 

Scott K Fish

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Tony gives us the essence of qualities he admired in the drummers who influenced him, and qualities he worked to develop in himself:

1. Technique
2. Feeling
3. Creativity to express yourself

Best,
skf
 

Pounder

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Well like JDA put it, there are so many elements. I think Tony was trying to teach something that most just wanna dismiss as not relevant, the lazy way being taught across the board, one needs only the first 3 fingers to pull off most drum stuff. But for anyone who wants to put forth some effort, and activate the pinky, and those parts of the hand, it could be transformational. I don't know. What I do know is that if I haven't really mastered something someone like Tony suggests, I probably have no qualifications whatsoever to determine its validity.
 

zenghost

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Jim Chapin spoke of moving the fulcrum to the back fingers (ring/pinky) to get maximum power. He also said the fulcrum essentially can "wander" depending on what is required for the playing context. My experience tells this is ultimately true if you are to capitalize on what each fulcrum has to offer - each has its sweet-spot as far as benefits. You re essentially changing the class of mechanical lever with which you are working.
 

ARGuy

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The key to what he's talking about starts at the 8 minute mark. He talks about playing from the back of the hand, not just the hand. That's where the power and control come from, not from pinching the stick between the thumb and first finger and being at the mercy of whatever rebound you can generate with your wrist. Instead of the thumb and first finger being both the primary gripping point AND the control point, the load gets spread out, with the back three fingers doing the gripping and the thumb and first finger being the guide. I think a lot of us were probably taught that you keep your first finger wrapped around the stick with your thumb opposing it with no gap between the stick and your hand. Watching Jojo Mayers' DVD I noticed that a lot of the time his first finger is not wrapped around the stick and is, in fact, pointing straight down, and he certainly doesn't have any problem with control.
As Pounder said, adopting the back of the hand approach can be transformational. After seeing the Tony video and picking up the Jojo DVD a few years ago I began working on that approach and it's made a lot of difference.
 

zenghost

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ARGuy said:
The key to what he's talking about starts at the 8 minute mark. He talks about playing from the back of the hand, not just the hand. That's where the power and control come from, not from pinching the stick between the thumb and first finger and being at the mercy of whatever rebound you can generate with your wrist. Instead of the thumb and first finger being both the primary gripping point AND the control point, the load gets spread out, with the back three fingers doing the gripping and the thumb and first finger being the guide. I think a lot of us were probably taught that you keep your first finger wrapped around the stick with your thumb opposing it with no gap between the stick and your hand. Watching Jojo Mayers' DVD I noticed that a lot of the time his first finger is not wrapped around the stick and is, in fact, pointing straight down, and he certainly doesn't have any problem with control.
As Pounder said, adopting the back of the hand approach can be transformational. After seeing the Tony video and picking up the Jojo DVD a few years ago I began working on that approach and it's made a lot of difference.
yes - agree

Assuming an American grip (hybrid of German/French), once you get past being stuck on using the index/thumb as the exclusive fulcrum (seems a lot of people do not), you can open up the hand and move the fulcrum back to at the middle finger, at which point the index finger is more of a passive guide (though it really can be used in a three-point fulcrum and the index finger can be used to modulate downpressure). At this point, you're still close enough to the sweetspot of the stick to capitalize on optimal rebound.

Once I discovered this, I never again pinched the stick between the thumb and index finger (at any knuckle). You develop a cradle of sorts for the stick - devoid of tension.

Then, you can let the fulcrum wander back even further to where you are using primarily the ring/pinky finger as the fulcrum. You lose significant rebound at the back fulcrum because you are a couple inches off the stick's sweetspot, but you gain power.

There are many ways to grip and move the stick - some are more efficient, some are faster or more powerful. The mechanics of it is a fascinating subject.
 

Seb77

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I think it makes sense to differentiate between TW's singles on big, albeit high-tuned toms, and playing medium to uptime swing on the ride cymbal. In the latter case, TW used a ton of rebound, index fulcrum, and finger technique. It's evident in any clip that shows his cymbal playing, be it from 1967 or 1989.
In the case of the tom rolls, I think the main point is to make the stick and hand one unit moving as one. Rebound is always there, it's physics, a stick bounces back from a tightly tensioned membrane, but if the fingers are too open, the hand doesn't move along, meaning the hand isn't really "up" when the stick is up. In order to be able to play at his speed and power, also moving between drums, the hand should be "up" as fast as the stick is.
 

MarcCrossland

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It's hard to believe that the idea of different fulcrums is not more prevalent. Just now I struck my practice pad with a ring+pinky only and I get a much more full snap then I could ever muster pinching with pointer/thumb.
I think I have enough to work on for a lifetime now.
Excellent insights!
 


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