Strictly Technique

Swiss Rudiments

Basel Drumming, Part 2

by Claus Hessler

This month we’ll continue exploring Swiss rudimental drumming with some additional patterns and combinations. We’ll also cover their interpretation to help develop the style’s authentic phrasing. Once again, we’ll use a style of notation developed by late educator Dr. Fritz Berger, as illustrated in this lesson’s key. 


Last month we worked with a rudiment called the complete final stroke of 7. In Exercise 1, we’ll develop a reversed version of the final stroke of 7. Using a quintuplet subdivision helps to structure things rhythmically. The authentic phrasing would be difficult to achieve if we only thought in terms of a 16th-note subdivision. The first and second bars form the figure’s basic rhythmic structure. In the third bar, the fourth and fifth partials of the quintuplet are doubled to form a roll.

Basel Drumming 1

Exercise 2 is a rather typical combination that uses final strokes of 7 and the doublé while adding a triplet pattern to the end of the phrase. The second line of this exercise demonstrates how these figures should be phrased, and dynamic markings apply to both phrases.

Basel Drumming 2

Exercise 3 combines a single paradiddle (“mill stroke” as the Swiss say) and the flam accent (“flammed triplet” in Swiss nomenclature). Notice that the sticking in this exercise does not change—only the distances between the notes do. This concept is attributed to Jim Chapin’s idea of collapsed rudiments, as discussed last month.

Basel Drumming 3

Exercise 4 builds upon the previous example by adding an accent variation and is notated in more of an authentic stylistic phrasing.

Basel Drumming 4

Exercise 5 combines flammed triplets, doublés, flammed five-stroke rolls, and the final strokes of 7. Once again, the second line of notation demonstrates this exercise’s phrasing.

Basel Drumming 5

Exercise 6 introduces a new pattern. The first and third measures feature the “Maermeli” stroke, as well as elements that we’ve already covered. Again, the quintuplet subdivision in the second line of this example helps to develop the phrasing.

Basel Drumming 6

Exercise 7 introduces a typical “Tagwacht” combination that consists of the single reveille stroke (known as a double drag tap in the U.S.), a nine-stroke roll, and a reversed version of the single reveille stroke. Note the similarities between the reversed single reveille stroke and the Maermeli stroke—only one note is missing between the two. A Swiss “Tagwacht” (a piece to wake up people) always includes these elements, and we’ll hear more about that kind of composition next month.

Basel Drumming 7

For more on the history and background of European rudimental drumming, check out the forthcoming international version of my latest book, Camp Duty Update. If you have any questions, feel free to email them to [email protected].

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