Strictly Technique

Swiss Rudiments

Basel Drumming, Part 3

by Claus Hessler

In the third installment of our series on Swiss drumming, we’ll continue exploring the European roots of rudiments. In the last lesson we introduced Tagwacht pieces—music that’s typically used to awaken soldiers. The piece “Three Camps” could be considered an American military equivalent to a Tagwacht. In this article, we’ll focus entirely on Tagwacht rudiments.

Most of the terminology in this series originates from the methods of respected educator Dr. Fritz Berger. In this lesson we’ll use a style of notation developed by Berger. The second line in the following exercises demonstrates how these figures should be phrased using a quintuplet subdivision, and dynamics apply to both lines. These patterns would traditionally be notated in 6/8, however, the quintuplet interpretations are written in 2/4.

In the previous installment of this series, we introduced the reveille stroke (known as the double drag tap in the U.S.) and the reversed reveille stroke. Our first exercise this month introduces another inverted version of the reveille stroke sometimes referred to as a three-stroke-roll combination. A nine-stroke roll is played at the end of the phrase. Drags should be played somewhat softer than the single strokes.

Exercise 2 demonstrates the similarities between the Maermeli stroke and the reversed reveille stroke—only one note is missing between the two. Although it’s not traditional to present these two strokes together, combining them here demonstrates their similar structure.

Exercise 3 incorporates a combination of the single reveille stroke in the first measure, the doubled reveille stroke in the first ending, and the triple reveille stroke in the second ending. The double reveille has a doubled stroke on the second 8th note of the figure, while a triple reveille incorporates a triplet in the same position. Follow the interpretation guide, and make sure that ghosted double strokes are played softly compared to the other notes.

Here’s the intro to a famous piece by Dr. Berger called “Radac Tagwacht.” Tagwachts usually consist of three parts and feature a typical compositional method and stroke combinations that are strictly and logically presented. Most Tagwacht intros use similar structures, and “Radac” is no exception. It may be helpful to refer to the interpretation guide given for the reveille stroke in part 2 of this series [November 2016]. Remember that the whole piece is played and interpreted using quintuplets.

Claus Hessler is an active clinician in Europe, Asia, and the United States. For more, visit