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The Frame 'First': Drum solo brings Whiplash's Damien Chazelle to tears

Director Damien Chazelle on the set of
Director Damien Chazelle on the set of "Whiplash"
Sony Pictures Classic

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Director Damien Chazelle has always wanted to be a filmmaker, but before his breakout film "Whiplash", Chazelle tried his hand a jazz drumming. He remembers his first time a performance moved him so much that it brought him to tears. 

First time that I cried at a work of art was at a drum solo that I saw. A drummer named Winard Harper, part of the Billy Taylor Trio, gave back in -- I would have been in High School -- 2005 or something. And I remember watching him slowly build this solo like a great chef and it just reached this sort of climatic stretch... and I just totally lost it. I totally teared up. 

And it was weird to me. I've always kind of remembered it 'cause drums are as un-narrative as you get. They're some way seem as un-emotional as you get. You're not even playing with notes or chords and the things that normally stimulate emotions for people. So I wanted to translate that into this movie. I wanted to try and make drums and drums as an instrument as purely emotional as I could. 

"Whiplash" is currently playing in select theaters across the nation. 


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