Thomas Lang: 5 Ideas For Faster Feet

Fig. 3

Right foot heel up, left foot heel-down. Try to combine these two techniques as soon as possible. Play soft heel-down strokes and heavy heel-up strokes. Any sixteenth-note pattern will immediately sound more dynamic and interesting, even if you’re just playing alternating strokes. Then work on “stickings” for your feet, such as RLLR LLRL. Practice all rudiments that way, with one foot heel up, the other foot heel down, then switch to left foot heel up, right foot heel down. Once you get used to switching comfortably between heel-up and heel-down while you play a pattern, it’s not a big deal to incorporate multi-pedal orchestrations. Play alternating sixteenth-notes (RLRLRLRL) and orchestrate the pattern like this: kick-hat-hat-kick-kick-hat-hat-kick-kick. Work on all sorts of orchestrations using four pedals, all played heel up (for now). Left foot on two pedals (kick and snare), right foot on kick, or on right hat, or any other alternative sound source. Try using two sounds at the same time to add color and timbre to a multi-pedal orchestration.

When you jump off the kick drum to play kick and hat with the next stroke, aim for the space between the two pedals in order to land safely on both pedals. When you play these things very quickly, you might not have enough time to bounce off one pedal with your whole foot, so I swivel my heel onto the second pedal in order to play two sounds. So my right heel is playing the hi-hat, while the ball of my right foot is playing the kick drum. The same works for the left foot. This way I get a short, tight “chick” sound from my hats on top of my kick drum sound.

Fig. 4

For a longer “splashy” sound, I bounce off the kick pedal with the ball of my foot, and then land on the hi-hat — or alternatively on both the hi-hat and kick drum pedal — with my heel first (Fig. 4). That way, I get a “splashy” hat sound on top of my kick drum sound, which I can incorporate into my multi-pedal-orchestrations. That again works for both feet and is especially effective if one of the instruments played with each set of two pedals is a hi-hat. However, this also works with any other choice of instrument.

Finally, try to pull all these elements and techniques together and start orchestrating your own foot patterns. Play dynamic kick drum, snare drum, and hi-hat patterns with your feet while you hold down a strong backbeat with your hands. Eventually, try working on independence and polyrhythmic and polymetric foot or hand ostinatos, which are all played dynamically and orchestrated in one way or another.

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