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The heel-toe foot technique was pioneered by drummers of the big band era. The application most commonly used for this technique at that time was a rocking motion that assisted the drummer in keeping solid time on the hi-hat, while simultaneously playing timpani type floor tom rhythms or swinging the ride cymbal. Early video footage of Buddy Rich, along with fellow Big band drummers are seen utilizing this technique in a musical setting.
Modern Day Era
In modern times, this method has been implemented into various styles of music such as Drum and bass by artist like Jojo Mayer, as well as the Heavy metal music genre by drummers such as, John Longstreth, of Origin (band) where the heel-toe technique is used to play the double stroke roll Drum rudiment on both feet. Tim Waterson, used a hybrid version of heel-toe technique to set the double stroke world record for feet in the World's Fastest Drummer competition with a score of 1,407 doubles in 60 seconds.
- The foot is suspended above the footboard of the pedal and the first of the two notes is played with the ball of the foot.
- The foot snaps forward, the heel comes up and the toes complete the second stroke.
The term heel-toe is used because of the appearance of the heel pushing down on the pedal, when in actuality it is the ball of the foot and the toe.
The technique is an asset when playing double kick pedals or two bass drums as it allows for Drum rudiments to be played with the feet. When mastered, drummers can use the method to play complex patterns in the same manner as the hands in addition to rolling the bass drum.
- Pros - Increased speed and endurance due to less motion required, producing more strokes with less effort.
- Cons - Limited volume as a result of not using more of the larger leg muscles.