Independence Series: Mirroring Double Bass Technique Lesson

In this lesson I discuss a fun and valuable practice concept I like to call “Mirroring.” This concept is a lot like “Call and Response”, which essentially is when two musicians take turns playing musical phrases that interact with one another. First, one musician plays a melody or a rhythm and then another musician plays the same thing or something similar that goes along with it. This interplay can go back and forth for a while as the musicians improvise – or it can be a one time thing.
You may never have considered it, but this concept can also be applied to the drums. And, one of the most interesting ways we can apply it is by using our limbs to “call” back and forth to one another. You can do this with any pair of limbs, but I most often do so between my hands and feet. This is most natural for me and I find that it’s also very effective musically.

Example 1

I start by playing a funky rock beat in 4/4 time. In the fourth measure, I play a fill that incorporates flurries of 32nd notes that I begin on the snare and rack toms and then move down to my feet on the bass drum. Next, I play another three measures before I begin a triplet-based fill that starts on the third count of the third measure. Again, I purposefully play back and forth between my hands and feet – first between the snare and bass drum and then between the floor tom and bass drum.
Mirroring Example 1
Alright, so what if your feet aren’t quite up to the same ability level as your hands? No problem. There are plenty of cool things you can do with mirroring. And, simply by playing around with this idea, you’ll be surprised by how fast your feet tend to pick up the pace.

Example 2

This example is a little more manageable if you’re not used to playing with your feet. I hear fills like this all the time. Although it may not seem like anything special, once you get used to it and can speed it up, it becomes a great fill for hard rock or heavy metal.  It’s also a great example of mirroring because your feet are copying what your hands play exactly.  As you can see in the notation below, I play four 16th notes with my hands, followed by four 16th notes with my feet.  Then, I repeat that pattern back and forth for the whole fill (see the 4th and 8th measures).

Mirroring Example 2

Mirroring Example 2Mirroring Example 2

Mirroring Example 2

Example 3

In addition to being fun for fills, mirroring can also be a great way to practice improving your double bass drum technique. I see a lot of people who practice their foot technique by playing long drawn out patterns with their feet. Although there’s nothing wrong with that approach, it can get boring. Instead, playing patterns back and forth between your hands and feet can be a great way to mix things up and reduce the monotony.

For example. say you want to practice your rudiments. Well, why not try playing them with your hands and your feet! The next time you work on your flam taps, give them a try on the bass drum!

Flam Taps

You don’t have to think too much about what you’re playing. Instead, just have fun with the ideas that pop into your head. Much of the time, I like to turn on music, a loop, or a metronome and solo over top playing ideas back and forth between my hands and feet. This is a great way to get comfortable with everything while letting your creativity run wild.  Ultimately, this approach will help if you want to use this concept in a live solo in the future, because you’ll already be primed to improvise.

I hope you all enjoyed this video. Mirroring is lots of fun and is a great way to quickly improve your hand and foot technique at the same time. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

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