Twitch Reflex

The fastest drum rolls that I do for bass drums are not done with full contemplation of each stroke. The roll becomes an automatic skill which I believe uses a twitch reflex. For example, consider a person who has a neurological disorder like Parkinson's Disease and his hand shakes rapidly and uncontrollably. If only we could harness that nervous speed by putting a drum stick in his hand, then that person would show an endurance at speed which a healthy teenager could not match.

The twitch reflex can be used by healthy drummers after long practice. It has been my perception that the bass drum pedal rises up and hits the bottom of my foot and causes a reflexive push back. The speed of the pedal bounce is matched to the speed of my reflexes. I practice the bass roll for six minutes to warm up gradually to my top conscious speed and then speed up more using a twitch reflex that matches the natural resonance of the pedal spring assembly. Then I insert hand beats for triplets to mark off the measures to form a music beat. Without the hand beats, the foot rolls are unstructured. Unstructured rolls are the fastest for me, but I also want to coordinate the bass roll with musical measures sometimes.

Two Critics

The pedal resonant frequency can be adjusted with these components:

1 : The spring tension adjusting nut and bolt length can make the spring stronger or weaker
2 : The beater length can be made shorter by loosening the bolt and pushing in the beater
3 : The beater mass can be reduced by purchasing a light weight beater
4 : The foot position can be moved away from the drum to increase leverage

That component number 4 is so that the foot only moves a quarter inch or less, up and down, to make the beater move several inches. The foot hits the pedal plate far from the beater when I play fast rolls. This is an important adjustment that the drummer can look at visually to ensure a matched position for left and right feet. If my foot gets too far forward, the matching is lost between twitch speed and pedal bounce speed and too much effort is needed to move the foot fast enough to match the pedal bounce. Effort is reduced by moving the foot to the rear of the foot plate.

The foot position near the rear of the pedal plate also changes the perceived weight of the pedal. The drummer can adjust the foot position forward to feel a light weight or rearward to feel a heavier weight pedal. This adjustment is useful to match foot reflex speed to pedal bounce speed and that adjustment can be precise.

It does no good to adjust the pedal for top speed if your foot cannot match that speed. Adjust the pedal to be as slow as your foot so that effort is minimized for your best roll.

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