Everywhere you turn these days, someone is talking about, writing about or demonstrating something they cheerfully call "Moeller". But here's the thing -- there appears to be a lot of different techniques being presented as Moeller. So I decided to see if I could get to the bottom of the apparent confusion, and here's what I found out about our friend "Gus" and his teachings.
Sanford Gustav Moeller's goal in his 1934 publication(*) was to document and explain the techniques used by old-time field drummers. In those days, drummers used the German grip in the right hand, with the butt of the stick held out to the side. Moeller further recommended the 'open' right hand grip (also known as the 4th finger fulcrum). To achieve power on the rather loose calf-skin heads of the day, the trick was to hold the stick with the 4th & 3rd fingers, letting the other digits remain loosely wrapped around the stick. Well, there simply is no possibility of using finger control with this technique.
Moeller never specified a whipping motion, although he did acknowledge its usefulness. The motions he described come mainly from the forearms and wrists. The whip only comes into play when extra power is needed. (BTW, Billy Gladstone was the champion of the whip stroke.)
Did early field drummers ever play fast one-handed triplets on their period drums? I doubt it. A combination of German grip and primitive tensioning systems made articulation difficult. Double strokes at 140? OK, but that's where it'll top out. Moeller merely documented how the drummers could get speed under these conditions, and showed how the technique could applied to the more modern drum and the then recently 'invented' drum set.
The bottom line here is that Moeller is not about arm movement or finger control or bounces. Moeller's real message lies in what happens between the strokes. Controlling what happens at the end of each stroke gives us command over the next stroke, and that's vital for developing control and speed.
I must admit that I use Moeller and Moeller derivatives. A lot. I didn't set out to. I just copied what my teacher showed me. I also closely watched the hand work of my favourite drummers. It was actually years later that I learned what this key motion was. Somehow, I doubt Mr. Moeller would be surprised.
The Moeller Book - The art of snare drumming, Sanford G. Moeller. (Long out of print and very hard to find)
Ludwig Masters: (1956)
You can read this and other posts online at http://drumyoda.blogspot.ca/