Moeller Grips vs Stroke

Sebenza

Member
I can't move my wrist without moving my arm. The way I move my wrists is by moving my forearm up, which pushes the hand down

View attachment 126180
It's the way our body works naturally. You execute a stroke with a wrist movement, and yes...there's a naturally occurring motion in your forearm too. But it's not your forearm creating the motion in your wrist...it's your wrist creating the motion in your forearm.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
Well For larger strokes I start the motion in the upper arm, which starts a chain of motion down my arm—to the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand/stick. For smaller strokes I start with my fingers, the motion goes in the reverse direction, to the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and into the upper arm. So I am not sure if the wrist starts the movement, because it is always in the path of this kinetic chain, but not at the beginning or end of it
 

Sebenza

Member
Well For larger strokes I start the motion in the upper arm, which starts a chain of motion down my arm—to the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand/stick. For smaller strokes I start with my fingers, the motion goes in the reverse direction, to the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and into the upper arm. So I am not sure if the wrist starts the movement, because it is always in the path of this kinetic chain, but not at the beginning or end of it
That's not at all the way I look at it. The wrist motion is the fundamental, and everything else is informed by it. The forearm, arm, shoulder motion if you really want to slam home those backbeats....the smaller motions with the fingers when it's about more finesse or speed etc...

If I think about it, the simple controlled wrist stroke is what informs us as to what other motions come into play in order to execute a certain thing.

If I was to start out a beginner, it would be wrist strokes all the way, up until the point it would make sense to introduce him/her to more complex motions, and even then, I'm sure the fingers would come way ahead of any specific arm or shoulder movements.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
That's not at all the way I look at it. The wrist motion is the fundamental, and everything else is informed by it. The forearm, arm, shoulder motion if you really want to slam home those backbeats....the smaller motions with the fingers when it's about more finesse or speed etc...

If I think about it, the simple controlled wrist stroke is what informs us as to what other motions come into play in order to execute a certain thing.

If I was to start out a beginner, it would be wrist strokes all the way, up until the point it would make sense to introduce him/her to more complex motions, and even then, I'm sure the fingers would come way ahead of any specific arm or shoulder movements.

Cool. That’s not the only approach, and there have been many extremely successful players with the opposite teaching approach.
 

Sebenza

Member
Cool. That’s not the only approach, and there have been many extremely successful players with the opposite teaching approach.
Yes, I'm not sure why I decided to chime in here, to be honest. I can say I'm certainly not a teacher, and technically not even a player, so please regard my comments as such.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
That's not at all the way I look at it. The wrist motion is the fundamental, and everything else is informed by it. The forearm, arm, shoulder motion if you really want to slam home those backbeats....the smaller motions with the fingers when it's about more finesse or speed etc...

If I think about it, the simple controlled wrist stroke is what informs us as to what other motions come into play in order to execute a certain thing.

If I was to start out a beginner, it would be wrist strokes all the way, up until the point it would make sense to introduce him/her to more complex motions, and even then, I'm sure the fingers would come way ahead of any specific arm or shoulder movements.
Okay. But that is not the way I look at it, that is what is physically happening when I play the drums. It sounds like you are doing it differently
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
Yes, I'm not sure why I decided to chime in here, to be honest. I can say I'm certainly not a teacher, and technically not even a player, so please regard my comments as such.
It’s okay to chime in. The more people that chime in, the more chance we have to learn from each other, and I have learned a ton of stuff from the other drummers on this forum over the years. And never stop playing!
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
I dont see a need for it. No one exaggerates the motions in anything else. Only drummers do this. Learn to do the thing correctly from the get go and there is less need for refinement.

How do you exaggerate a scale playing bass? Or picking? Or chords?

I've got no issue with going slow.

I would have disagreed with you up to about two weeks ago when I had a lesson with the incredible Seth Davis. Seth has some of the best hands on earth. He was a WFD champ like 20 years ago and has matured into one of the best sounding drummers anywhere. I highly recommend his book Revolutionizing Rhythm on Hudson Media.

Anyway, the funny thing is that my free stroke from a high position is smoother than HIS! Yet here is a guy who is on video playing singles and doubles at 250 BPM with corps sticks like a foot off the pad.

He told me he never practiced any exaggerated motions, just those motions that he wanted to develop.

Blew my mind and now I realize that much of the existing pedagogy is not necessarily gospel.
 
Last edited:

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I would have disagreed with you up to about two weeks ago when I had a lesson with the incredible Seth Davis. Seth has some of the best hands on earth. He was a WFD champ like 20 years ago and has matured into one of the best sounding drummers anywhere. I highly recommend his book Revolutionizing Rhythm on Hudson Media.

Anyway, the funny thing is that my free stroke from a high position is smoother than HIS! Yet here is a guy who is on video playing singles and doubles at 250 BPM with corps sticks like a foot off the pad.

He told me he never practiced any exaggerated motions, just those motions that he wanted to develop.

Blew my mind and now I realize that much of the existing pedagogy is not necessarily gospel.

This right here. Speed and power are two different skills. They both matter. IMHO.
 
Last edited:

1 hit wonder

Well-known Member
Alex's discussions generate a fair amount of activity. I get knowledge out of them from you guys debating.

On the 14" stroke and other musicians not doing these techniques, there's always exceptions.
A local guitar player will RIP across the strings in a highly exaggerated and expressive manner on stage. Like 3 and 4 feet of diagonal upstroke across the strings.
 

s1212z

Silver Member
Looks like shades of fundamental single stroke that you presented earlier. Though I didn't agree which is ok, I can say this video is well organized and presented while producing an engaging discussion. I did learn some new tidbits, thx!

I don't know if I'd say the side-stroke grip produces the same arm motion as the german grip. Unless I'm playing my own modified, I don't really like an forearm twist that much unless I'm changing grip positions for a tone I want...generally, the fulcrum can do this motion for me far more efficiently rather than the ulnar torque, but that is me (and I prefer a 1st finger fulcrum rather than 2nd). At speed, it's hard to keep up. I think there are good snippets in the Moeller, emphasis on natural motion and mechanics of gravity...just not literal to the instrument of today.

I can see the utility in 18th century war time; the drum is so close to the drummer the modified side gets the angle required to even hit the drum centrally. And the arm whip effect...you need some power with economy of motion for prolonged periods to project outdoors. Nowadays, I suppose it gets that angel to get really shallow on the drum if you need it (or hit your self in the groin). But given the choice, I don't think anyone in modern times wants a drum this close rubbing on your body to where they need a side grip to perform it. Ways around it, you get a more choked grip with a front heavy tapper so you can hit more centrally but that causes other issues. Picking up my VF Corpmaster stick, it can be done but my regular drumset playing stick...no so much nor do I need it to choke up the the grip for that position.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
I would have disagreed with you up to about two weeks ago when I had a lesson with the incredible Seth Davis. Seth has some of the best hands on earth. He was a WFD champ like 20 years ago and has matured into one of the best sounding drummers anywhere. I highly recommend his book Revolutionizing Rhythm on Hudson Media.

Anyway, the funny thing is that my free stroke from a high position is smoother than HIS! Yet here is a guy who is on video playing singles and doubles at 250 BPM with corps sticks like a foot off the pad.

He told me he never practiced any exaggerated motions, just those motions that he wanted to develop.

Blew my mind and now I realize that much of the existing pedagogy is not necessarily gospel.
Hey Jeff!
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
About a 14" stroke there? What happens when you play a 1" stroke?
Yuo, everything still moves, into my upper arm, but the movement is very slight. I realize there are other very acoomplished drummers who do it differently. Like the WFD guys. I remember @Jeff Almeyda posting about taking lessons with Mike Mangini and the whole muscle twitch thing. I still don’t understand how that works! But then again I never find myself in a musical situation where I have to play that fast. Here is a video I posted about a billion years ago which better shows the motion, although the strokes are bigger than 1”
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
Looks like shades of fundamental single stroke that you presented earlier. Though I didn't agree which is ok, I can say this video is well organized and presented while producing an engaging discussion. I did learn some new tidbits, thx!

I don't know if I'd say the side-stroke grip produces the same arm motion as the german grip. Unless I'm playing my own modified, I don't really like an forearm twist that much unless I'm changing grip positions for a tone I want...generally, the fulcrum can do this motion for me far more efficiently rather than the ulnar torque, but that is me (and I prefer a 1st finger fulcrum rather than 2nd). At speed, it's hard to keep up. I think there are good snippets in the Moeller, emphasis on natural motion and mechanics of gravity...just not literal to the instrument of today.

I can see the utility in 18th century war time; the drum is so close to the drummer the modified side gets the angle required to even hit the drum centrally. And the arm whip effect...you need some power with economy of motion for prolonged periods to project outdoors. Nowadays, I suppose it gets that angel to get really shallow on the drum if you need it (or hit your self in the groin). But given the choice, I don't think anyone in modern times wants a drum this close rubbing on your body to where they need a side grip to perform it. Ways around it, you get a more choked grip with a front heavy tapper so you can hit more centrally but that causes other issues. Picking up my VF Corpmaster stick, it can be done but my regular drumset playing stick...no so much nor do I need it to choke up the the grip for that position.
Yes! I actually use a first finger fulcrum probably a lot of the time, if not most of the time in my drumset playing, putting it in the second joint of my index finger. Actually after I finished editing and was uploading the video, I realized “Darn, I forgot to put the first finger fulcrum grip in there!” So I put a note about it in the description.
I think I did choke up on the stick, or move my grip slightly forward, when using the side drum grip, as the balance point seem to have shifted slightly forward. Also, using the side drum grip it seemed that when doing rimshots the striking point was more from the side of the drum then with my regular grip. If I tried to make the rimshot toward the back of the drum 🥁, it didn’t really work. Of course, I don’t really know if these drummers were doing rimshots back then on these big rope drums with those tall wood hoops. Do you know?

Regarding whether german grip produces the same movement as the side drum grip, please see the attached graphic. So whether starting the german grip from the classic or the "rolled out" position (as explained in my video), the radius is either partially or fully crossed over the ulna. This doesn't give us much room to maneuver regarding inward forearm rotation. Meaning, with the side drum grip we can't really rotate the forearm inward much more unless we "chicken wing it" (yes, a highly technical term!) and swing our elbow/upper arm out at an extreme angle to hit the drum. So to avoid this, it is much simpler and more natural to pivot the wrist, just like we would in german grip, to gracefully complete our stroke. Would you agree with that?
Of course with traditional grip this isn't a problem, because we start from the supinated position, with the radius and ulna parallel. To start the stroke we can rotate the forearm inward, which allows the radius to start to cross over the ulna, and the stick to strike the drum.
Foream Rotation Graphic.png
 

s1212z

Silver Member
Meaning, with the side drum grip we can't really rotate the forearm inward much more unless we "chicken wing it" (yes, a highly technical term!) and swing our elbow/upper arm out at an extreme angle to hit the drum. So to avoid this, it is much simpler and more natural to pivot the wrist, just like we would in german grip, to gracefully complete our stroke. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, definitely....I don't think there is any other way other than the 'chicken wing' method, lol. Again, I feel this mostly due to the proximity logistics of colonial period harness where you basically have no distance between body and drum. I can see how traditional really helps here but for the matched side, both tucked in and lower plus the other factors such as these were not speed competitions and had a functional wartime use for power and projection...add it up and I can see the functional use for this grip at that time to get that inner angle. I don't see any modern drum corp style that mimics this, probably because no want the uncomfortable position of having a drum that close to where the drummer is basically humping the drum. Someone like @Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX could talk more intelligently on this topic (I'm just a former high school quad player :) ), but the modern harness or just standing position non-harness like on a Blue Devil snare line has a more reasonable distance not require this particular motion for ulnar twisting like this get the angle either.

As far the ulnar twist in the down stroke how you outline, if you are doing the full arm whip that makes sense. But it goes back to the wasted motion, or rather who needs this kind of power in their stroke on a regular basis...perhaps some, Moeller method is known for power afterall. Probably most here could choke their drum without lifting their elbow. A pad is a baseline because it basically has no dynamic range...so putting that extra power from the arm to twist the forearm has no function here because the pad won't get louder. So when I think German grip, I think this:


Not to say twisting your wrist is prohibited...I do it all the time, particularly in the french/american/german switch or in ride patterns, here is good example even though not from an arm motion. This was mentioned before, but I don't put it as a basis for other instances. But another example how strokes are dynamic to the surface the musicality rather than just some static concept for pads or even snares alone.

I tried that side drum grip, and it was instant pain.
And this is what is sort of concerning if this gets practiced as a fundamental concept....while is does have roots in the lineage, I feel we have evolved away from it as we don't play like this anymore or no longer a product of necessity. Historically, its very interesting and you did a great job putting this video together Alex, helped me understand better where you are coming from.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
Yeah, definitely....I don't think there is any other way other than the 'chicken wing' method, lol. Again, I feel this mostly due to the proximity logistics of colonial period harness where you basically have no distance between body and drum. I can see how traditional really helps here but for the matched side, both tucked in and lower plus the other factors such as these were not speed competitions and had a functional wartime use for power and projection...add it up and I can see the functional use for this grip at that time to get that inner angle. I don't see any modern drum corp style that mimics this, probably because no want the uncomfortable position of having a drum that close to where the drummer is basically humping the drum. Someone like @Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX could talk more intelligently on this topic (I'm just a former high school quad player :) ), but the modern harness or just standing position non-harness like on a Blue Devil snare line has a more reasonable distance not require this particular motion for ulnar twisting like this get the angle either.

As far the ulnar twist in the down stroke how you outline, if you are doing the full arm whip that makes sense. But it goes back to the wasted motion, or rather who needs this kind of power in their stroke on a regular basis...perhaps some, Moeller method is known for power afterall. Probably most here could choke their drum without lifting their elbow. A pad is a baseline because it basically has no dynamic range...so putting that extra power from the arm to twist the forearm has no function here because the pad won't get louder. So when I think German grip, I think this:


Not to say twisting your wrist is prohibited...I do it all the time, particularly in the french/american/german switch or in ride patterns, here is good example even though not from an arm motion. This was mentioned before, but I don't put it as a basis for other instances. But another example how strokes are dynamic to the surface the musicality rather than just some static concept for pads or even snares alone.


And this is what is sort of concerning if this gets practiced as a fundamental concept....while is does have roots in the lineage, I feel we have evolved away from it as we don't play like this anymore or no longer a product of necessity. Historically, its very interesting and you did a great job putting this video together Alex, helped me understand better where you are coming from.
Thank you. I watched all of the videos, except for the whole Bozzio video, because I saw him I concert right before the pandemic, and he is one of my favorite drummers of all time so I am familiar with how he plays. I also own that Steve Smith book/dvd. Anyway, I think what you call “twisting the wrist” is what I call forearm rotation? I certainly don’t see anything wrong with it, afterall it is the basis for the traditional grip stroke. Also for french grip. Of course the difference is that french grip rotates the forearm outwards while trad grip rotates the forearm inwards. In the Dan Weiss example, I see that as kind of an extreme example of American grip, which combines the pivoting of the wrist from german grip and the french rotation of the forearm outward. Again, nothing wrong with that, it is amazing the finesse he is getting with his right hand!
One thing I don’t understand is this “ulnar torque” or “ulnar twist” you mention. As far as I understand it, the ulna cannot rotate or twist, it is locked into the humerus, and can only pivot up and down at the elbow. It is only the crossing of the radius over the ulna that allows our forearm to rotate at all…or am I missing something here?
 
Top