Different Strokes Part I - A few strokes, but many names
Your job as a drummer is simple: Hit stuff. Usually you'll want/need to hit things in a more-or-less controlled manner. Below are the basic strokes from which all others flow. Note that for each type of stroke, the position of the stick at the end of the stroke is just as important as the start position.
1. Free Stroke
This full down-and-up stroke begins at the top of your range and, after striking, returns to the starting point using just the rebound. The grip should remain loose and there is no effort needed to get the stick back up -- the hand simply follows the rebound of the stick. The free stroke delivers excellent speed and power, and should be your goto stroke. Also called down-up stroke, open stroke, open-closed stroke, full stroke, legato stroke, and a few others. (The name ‘free stroke’ acknowledges the tension-free nature of the stroke when done correctly.)
2. Half Stroke
A half stroke is just a free stroke starting at and returning to a lower height.
3. Bounce Stroke
This is a series of lighter free strokes using mainly the wrists and fingers. Sometimes called a dribble stroke as the action resembles dribbling a ball. Bounce strokes are an efficient way to play quick multiple strokes.
1. Down Stroke
This one-way stroke starts at the top and finishes at the bottom. The key is to stop the stick after striking so the tip remains 1 to 2 inches from the drum or cymbal surface. This technique focuses on getting the stick ready for a light stroke following a strong one. Sometimes called a Mercatto stroke
2. Pull-out (Up Stroke, Pull-up)
This stroke begins with the stick close to the drum or cymbal surface. After 'pulling' a quieter note from the down position, the stick is then lifted to a higher position to facilitate a stronger note or accent. Note that the action is lifting, not pulling (despite the moniker). Note that the tap can also be executed by simply dropping the tip of the stick, which some refer to as a 'free note' as you get an extra note with no additional effort.
Different Strokes Part II - Combined Strokes
The combined strokes are your work-a-day strokes and are combinations of the basic movements outlined in . There are no hard rules for these, so I've had to use something of a best guess approach when deciphering conflicting opinions.
1. Moeller Stroke/Method
Sanford “Gus” Moeller (1886-1960) studied old-school rudimental drummers and early jazz drummers to discover how they managed to combine power and speed. He noticed that, at the end of the first stroke, they kept the stick close to the head -- a down stroke. Then as they were lifting the stick, they'd tip it downward to play another note on the way up. So, a down stroke followed by an up stroke. This is ideal for playing 'diddles' when you need volume and/or speed and is also great for ride cymbal work.
2. The Pump
A pumping action is essential for playing sustained notes as in a ride pattern. Begin with a down stroke but keep the hand and fingers very loose and let the stick fly up. Then merely close your hand to execute a second stroke and a lift to facilitate the next stroke. This is a great way to lock in a pulse with little effort. It's also great for speed and articulation.
3. Jim Chapin's "Moeller Triplets"
This technique is a very efficient way to play multiple strokes. With a relaxed hand, begin with a throwing motion and allow the stick to rebound half-way or less. Next comes a bounce stroke using just the fingers. Finally, tap the head as you begin to lift the stick, so tap - bounce - lift. Note that you can add more bounce/dribble strokes in the middle (I like to warm up with 5s: down - bounce - bounce - bounce - up).
A.k.a. "Buddy's secret weapon", this one applies to the traditional left hand grip and enables impressive speed by controlling the stick between the first and third fingers. The first finger throws the stick down and the third finger quickly throws it back up with some assistance from the wrist, the idea being that the hand can throw the stick back up faster than a rebound can.
5. Two-finger Roll
A trick sometimes used by rudimental drummers is to play a roll with the left hand using traditional grip. The action is to play diddles with just the thumb and the forefinger, two bounces with the thumb and two with the finger. It can also be done with the first and second fingers. This can result in a very convincing roll that leaves the other hand free for other missions. It also looks very impressive.
Different Strokes Part III - The “Other” Strokes
There is no theme here, just techniques that don't fit neatly into the previous groupings. Rather than fringe techniques, these are solid tools that you may already be familiar with.
1. Wrist Stroke
Down, up, and down-up stokes are executed using just the wrists, with the fingers holding the stick firmly against the hand. Wrist strokes should not be your stroke of choice. Although good for power, they tend to limit speed and articulation and can lead to wrist problems.
2. Finger Stroke
A stroke can be executed by simply "flicking' the sticks with the fingers, keeping the wrist and arm movement to a minimum. Bounce and dribble strokes are often done using just the fingers. Also see Skip Stroke in Par I.
3. Forearm Stroke
In general, forearm strokes are not very useful, but there are two situations where they're indispensable. To do a military-style buzz roll or a scratch roll, press the stick down using the forearms while keeping the wrist steady and guide the sticks with the fingers to produce the buzz.
The other instance of forearm technique is the blast roll or 'free-hand' technique. Rather than attempt to describe it, here’s Johnnie Rabb on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw4vMV3EnRw.
4. Whipping Stroke (Gladstone Technique)
Billy Gladstone (1893-1961) brought this technique to the fore while on the job at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Begin by lifting the stick to eye level using the entire arm, and then bring it down using a whipping or wave-like motion. Rebound is optional at the end of the stroke, depending on need. This stroke delivers maximum power and volume.
5. Skip Stroke
I've not seen any sort of documentation on this one*. While its main application is in a fast swing ride, it can be used elsewhere. Begin by throwing the stick tip against a ride cymbal with a slight rebound -- 2 to 4 inches only, opening the 2nd through 4th fingers on contact. Then pull the fingers back to quickly close your hand. with practice, you can ‘squeeze out’ two more notes (3 in total) using a 'stutter' motion and a snap: Duh-duh-Dum. The key is to use the fingers in a pulling motion to execute multiple strokes. So throw-pull-snap / becomes &-uh 1.
* There is an online video that presents it as the “Tony Williams Up-tempo Ride”, though the technique did not originate with Tony:www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDu6w66F5dU
* Use lift or rebound. Never pull your sticks up into position.
* When making a stroke, think stick velocity rather than force.
* Relax. Even when playing full tilt, keep your hands and arms as relaxed as you can.
* Tune and position your drums so they provide as much assistance as possible (for your preferred tonal range).
You can read this and other posts online at http://drumyoda.blogspot.ca/