Part 1: The Final of Seven

Welcome to the Rudimental Codex, an alternative collection of rudiments that focuses specifically on the ancient European legacy of rudimental drumming.

This collection isn’t meant to rival the Percussive Arts Society’s standard list of forty rudiments. Rather, its intent is to help you look differently at the art of drumming and the history of rudimental drumming’s European roots. The list has been organized and published by Percussion Creativ, a German nonprofit association of drummers and percussionists similar in nature to the Percussive Arts Society in the U.S. The full poster of the Codex can be downloaded at percussion-creativ.de and at moderndrummer.com.

Before we start, a short note on the history of rudiments. The most important regions where this military-oriented drumming originated are in parts of modern-day France, Switzerland, and Germany. Mercenaries from these regions would spread their music throughout Europe (much of it was used in part of their military strategy as well) and then much later to the U.S. Because the borders between countries shifted throughout the Renaissance and medieval era, when discussing many of the drumming aspects of this rudimental style, it makes sense to speak of Europe as relating to certain cultures rather than in terms of national boundaries.

Especially during the Renaissance era, the French influence in Europe was extremely significant in regards to language, architecture, fashion, lifestyle, and more. It stands to reason that music and drumming would follow suit. With the particularly strong bonds between France and Switzerland, these two regions proved to be extremely important in the history of rudimental drumming. You can learn more about this history in my publication, Camp Duty Update, which is available from Alfred Music.

The Rudimental Codex differs from other lists of rudiments in a number of ways. It showcases European phrases that are not part of the forty PAS rudiments. It presents the German/Swiss and French names of the rudiments. It suggests detailed information on interpretation and phrasing. It gives you original and sometimes deviating information on how certain rudiments were structured. And it uses a single-line system of notation that’s widespread throughout Switzerland and France.

Throughout this series I’ll provide you with further examples of how the Codex can change your perception of rudiments, their history, and possible ways to interpret them. It’s worth repeating, however, that this is not about “right” or “wrong” ways to approach rudiments. It’s simply about preserving a musical art form and its European roots, which we look at today as one of the most important foundations of drumming. Let’s dig in.

The Final of Seven

In Swiss and German nomenclature, this phrase is known as a Siebener Endstreich. The ancient French name is Raté saute de cinq. The Swiss name relates to the number of strokes played in total, while the French term focuses on the aspect of the five-stroke roll, which is embedded between two more single strokes. By the way, this figure could be seen as somewhat related to the Lesson 25 PAS rudiment, which has one more double stroke inside of the pattern.

Interpretation

Regarding notation, a single-line system is typically used in modern rudimental drumming in Switzerland and France. In Switzerland, right-hand strokes appear above the line and left-hand strokes appear below. In France, this order is reversed. Some of the earliest American sources of rudimental drumming also make use of this strategy—Charles Ashworth’s 1812 book, A New, Useful, and Complete System of Drum Beating, indicates sticking with different pitches, albeit using a five-line staff. The tradition of Scottish drumming, which is not as old as you might think, also uses a single-line system, which is most likely a result of the connection and friendship between Swiss drumming great Dr. Fritz Berger and Scottish drumming great James Catherwood. With all that in mind, there’s reason enough to stick with that tradition.

The Final of Seven really doesn’t have a typical dynamic setting, and many times it’s played with a brief crescendo. Still, it makes sense to accent the first note of the pattern as a general rule and understand that the two single strokes at the end employ a brief crescendo to prepare for the next accent at the beginning of the pattern.

The rhythmic phrasing of this widely used figure is very close to a quintuplet subdivision. French sources make use of that rhythmic grouping in education and methodology as well; however, in Switzerland this strategy is much less common. This may be because of different methods of notation used in Switzerland, in which so-called “Berger notation,” a system invented by Dr. Fritz Berger, plays an important role. Here’s the Final of Seven using Berger’s notation.

Next we’ll check out the reversed version of the Final of Seven, which is also very common in Swiss rudimental drumming. I included the notation of this phrase as it appears in the Rudimental Codex, along with its detailed interpretation. Just like the regular Final of Seven, there’s no set dynamic level, yet many times there are brief crescendos in its actual use. In the Codex, we present the phrase with an emphasis on the third partial of a quintuplet grid, which isn’t really unusual in an authentic context.

Reversed Final of Seven

Interpretation

Next we’ll focus on exercises that explore musical structures and techniques helpful for the development of the Final of Seven and Reversed Final of Seven. These exercises demonstrate some rhythmic groundwork and ways to develop a basic understanding of the structure of the patterns.

Keeping this unique rudimental tradition of drumming alive is our passion at Percussion Creativ. We view the patterns in the Rudimental Codex as possessing a very special cultural heritage. Spread the word, and be sure to add this ancient piece of vocabulary to your own toolbox. Enjoy!

Claus Hessler is an active author, educator, and international clinician. He endorses Mapex, Sabian, Promark, Evans, Ahead, Gon Bops, and Drummershoe products. For more information, visit claushessler.com.