Frankie Dunlop: How to Play Louder Without Hurting Yourself


Frankie Dunlop with Monk Quartet on T.V.

SKF NOTE: A segment from the full transcript of my Frankie Dunlop interviews. The back story on the interview is posted here.

Scott K Fish: How can drummers learn to play louder without hurting themselves physically?

Frankie Dunlop: Well, I played with Big Jay McNeely. The rhythm & blues. One day he took me into the cellar of the house we were staying at in Philadelphia. He took a little, small four-inch snare drum — it was the first one I’d seen. This was his own personal drum, but he was basically a saxophone player.

I wasn’t giving him the right beat.

He took me under his wing also — as far as showing me the rhythm & blues approach to the drum.

But by having that rhythm & blues tutoring from Big Jay — showing me how to play a shuffle by snapping my hand with my wrist over. Turning it to the left and giving it a snap. Instead of hitting up-and-down you would hit the drum and snap the hand over every…second and fourth beat.

By turning my hand and snapping it over I learned how to play louder without killing myself.

It’s the same thing with the right hand.

In a big band, when you hit the cymbal you’ve got to hit those dynamics. Learn to snap the right hand and you can catch those dynamics on those cymbals.

If you’re not snapping then you’re using your whole arm and it’s going to tire you out. You’re going to work harder. Twice as hard.

What Big Jay McNeely taught me was a big help….


About Scott K Fish
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