Part 1: Basel Drumming Basics
by Claus Hessler
To increase authenticity I’m using a notation method, developed by the late, respected Basel instructor Dr. Fritz Berger, that’s similar to how the Swiss might write these patterns. In this lesson’s key, notes above the staff line indicate right-hand strokes, while notes below the staff line indicate left-hand strokes. The small lines attached to the tops of some note heads indicate flams.
One major difference between U.S. and Swiss traditional rudimental drumming is the prevalence of a pattern known as the doublé (pronounced “doo–blay”). This figure is basically an inverted flam tap but with a special phrasing. Exercise 1 will help you develop a better understanding of this pattern. In this exercise, I’m using a strategy Jim Chapin developed in which he collapsed rudiments by changing the distance between a rudiment’s strokes without altering the sticking.
Here are some additional ideas for mastering the doublé phrasing. Measures 1 and 2 demonstrate a straight approach while bars 3 and 4 offer a more stylistic interpretation.
Exercise 3 incorporates a common accent variation and a pataflafla at the end of the phrase.
Exercises 4 and 5 introduce another typical Swiss pattern: the flammed five-stroke roll. In this rudiment, a grace note is placed before the first double stroke of a five-stroke roll, and we also have to watch out for some dynamics. Here’s a flammed five-stroke roll and pataflafla combination pattern with a right-hand lead.
And here’s a flammed five-stroke roll, doublé, and pataflafla combination that focuses on the left hand.
Exercises 6 and 7 cover another rudiment known as the complete final stroke of 7. This figure is more difficult to phrase into a regular grid of 16th notes, so using a quintuplet subdivision helps get closer to the authentic feel. As with the doublé, accents may vary. Exercise 6 is useful for developing this phrase, while Exercise 7 puts it into a musical context.
Finally, I present a short piece called the “Morgenstreich,” which is usually the first tune played at 4 a.m. during a three-day Swiss festival called Carnival of Basel. This reveille is based on an old military signal for assembly and includes all of the aspects covered in the previous exercises.
For more on the history and background of European rudimental drumming, check out the 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 claushessler.com.