The herta rudiment has seen a growth in popularity recently, especially in metal. For an example, check out Tomas Haake’s playing on Meshuggah’s track “Bleed” off the album Obzen. We commonly hear this rhythm applied within 16th-note or triplet subdivisions, but hertas can create interesting ideas when applied to quintuplets and septuplets as well.

First we’ll isolate hertas on each partial of a quintuplet. In Exercise 1, the herta starts on the first note of the quintuplet. Start by counting out loud and playing only the bass drum pattern until it feels comfortable. Once it’s even, add the cymbal stack and snare. If you’re having trouble, play quarter notes on the stack.

In Exercise 2, the herta is placed on the second quintuplet partial. In this variation, the rudiment starts with the left foot. This can be challenging, so start slowly. If you’re having trouble, try reversing the footing.

Exercises 3–5 demonstrate the remaining permutations while adding an alternate stack pattern in Exercises 4 and 5. Practice all five of these examples with right- and left-foot lead.

Hertas are often played consecutively, and we can phrase them this way in quintuplets as well. Try playing quarter notes on the stack until you have this next foot pattern down, and then add the embellished right hand.

Things get interesting when we play one extra partial between each herta. In the following pattern, the herta eventually falls on each quintuplet partial. The lead foot also reverses in the second measure. Try this with quarter notes on the stack before embellishing the hand pattern.

The bass drum patterns in Exercises 6 and 7 are polyrhythmic. By equally spacing five hertas over 3/4 and 4/4, we create five-over-three and five-over-four, respectively.

Now we’ll place hertas into septuplets. Exercises 8–10 demonstrate three of the seven positions. Make sure to experiment by placing the herta on every partial, and practice leading with either foot.

Exercise 11 places a five-note grouping into septuplets to create a seven-over-five polyrhythm with seven equally spaced hertas in a measure of 5/4. Go slowly, and count out loud while playing the bass drum pattern alone. When you can play it evenly, add the hand pattern.

We can also spread these patterns across multiple septuplets or quintuplets by adding rests. To help you learn these rhythms, program a metronome to play the full quintuplet or septuplet subdivision.

Once comfortable with Exercise 13, try splitting your feet onto different sound sources. For example, keeping your right foot on the bass drum and moving your left to the hi-hat yields an interesting variation in which your left foot plays an evenly spaced pattern on every third quintuplet partial.

We can also play hertas in odd subdivisions with the hands. In Exercise 14, our feet play solid quintuplets while the hands split hertas between the hi-hat and snare. Every third snare note is accented, but get comfortable with the basic rhythm before adding accents and ghost notes. The bass drum pattern alternates on the repeat.

Exercise 15 demonstrates an independence challenge and places the bass drum pattern from Exercise 3 underneath the hand pattern from Exercise 14. The overlapping herta phrases create a five-over-three polyrhythm. If you’re having trouble, try playing straight quintuplets with the bass drum, and add in the hertas one at a time. It can be helpful to ignore the dynamics at first until you can play the pattern consistently. Then add in the ghost notes and accents.


Aaron Edgar plays with the Canadian prog-metal band Third Ion and is a session drummer, clinician, and author. He teaches weekly live lessons on Drumeo.com. You can find his book, Boom!!, as well as information on how to sign up for private lessons, at aaronedgardrum.com.