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How to play the footboard

December 11th, 2013
music, footboard

The footboard is an instrument for electronic foot percussion. After experimenting with various ways to play it I think I now have the beginnings of a technique:

Sit in a chair and lift your dominant foot off the ground just slightly so it dangles. Keep your foot parallel to the floor. Let your leg muscles relax in that position so you're not exerting force to pull your foot towards your chair or push it out away from you. This is where your leg will require the least energy while playing. Adjust the position of the footboard until it's right under your foot.

The front and back pads should be set to play a high and low sound, like a closed high-hat or snare and a kick drum. Pick some sounds you're not going to get too sick of.

The two basic movements are tapping your toe and tapping your heel. In both cases the other half of the foot stays down:

You're probably going to need to calibrate your drum triggers before this will work well. If your sensitivity/gain is too high you'll get sounds from one pad when trying to play the other. If it's too low then some taps that should register instead get silence. If you get double triggering, two sounds in quick succesion, you need to set a higher regection time. After lots of fiddling you should have the pads set up where you can trigger either pad while leaving half your foot still.

The other basic motion is playing both sounds at once by putting down the whole foot:

Once you have these three building blocks you can start to build up rhythms:

When playing faster you will sometimes want to keep your foot entirely in the air. This means instead of rocking "heel toe" you bounce your foot back and forth between the heel and toe:

You can also add the other foot if you like:

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