Revisiting the 'Ancients'

An Online Review of the "Moeller Book

Tommy William Hanson           

    Revisiting the 'Ancients'    

*...In terms of the 'traditional' way to grip drumsticks, the left hand grip has not changed much over time.  This is because (until only a few decades ago) the drum has always been tilted at an angle.  The 'rabbit grip', for many centuries, has been the grip of choice for the left hand stick grip. 

Moeller's point is to suggest that the left hand and fingers should remain basically open and relaxed ... no need to apply pressure to make the stick buzz (this is not the desired result - see photos below).

Click Here for Beginning of the Article          ~ VIDEO EXAMPLES BELOW~   

Causing a drumstick to buzz or 'rub' the drum head (a term from Moeller's book), takes more energy.  Recall that the 'ancients' did not expend energy unnecessarily.  Their style was to maintain a 'potentially powerful' demeanor ... all the while, maintaining concentration on keeping the body RELAXED.  In a way, 'open style' pulls the drum sound up and out, more or less, with open double strokes.

This style means that, a drummer always remains at EASE.  With this drumming approach, the only rudiment available for forced volume is the single stroke roll.  Rendering this rudiment at full force produces an unmistakable sound when sheer volume is called for.  With the vintage grips, a more powerful single stroke roll is possible, than with the popular matched of grip.

To contrast 'open style' drumming with pipe band and orchestral snare drumming ...  the sound of those styles is more or less forced down and out when rendering the 'pressed' (closed) roll.  However, realize that performing this kind of roll takes more energy (and, of course, utilizing the closed grip as well).  A drummer 'forces' the buzz with a certain amount of pressure, and strength.  This is the exact reason that open style drumming is different.   For many, it is chosen over the other kinds of drumming ... because of the easy posture and relaxed manner when playing (using loose, 'open style' grips).


The more the left hand stick grip looks like 'rabbit ears', the more 'closed' the left stick grip has become.  If the index and middle fingers look like the photo below, Plate No. 9 (incorrect) ... then the grip is quite an extreme 'rabbit grip' and it is too 'closed' for 'open style' drumming.

Only slight pressure, where the stick balances in the thumb crotch, is all that's necessary.  The index finger adds control from the top and gives whatever guidance is needed.  The bottom fingers (third and fourth) cushion the stick and flick it back up.

A certain feeling should be visualized when striking a drum with the left hand ... that feeling should be that the left fingers are flicking drops of water from an OPEN, RELAXED hand (page 15, the Moeller Book).   If the grip is correct, the left hand fingers should NOT remind one of 'floppy rabbit ears'  See (incorrect) photo, Plate No. 9 below .  


The left hand grip as illustrated in Moeller's Book  (This photo may be subject to copyright)

* Purchasing Moeller's book is the best way to view all the information about the author's concepts


It should be added that the left index finger plays the major role when 'finger bouncing' the drumstick (more later).  When viewing the AVI (below), notice that the left hand is 'behaving' as if trying to 'flick drops of water' from the finger tips.

The following movie clip demonstrates a relaxed left hand rendering left hand strokes.  Imitating the picture above ... Plate no. 8 (correct), the clip should look very similar to the Moeller photo.  Set your movie viewer to loop back (repeat).  



Watch in repeat format ... or (loop)



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