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Bridging the gap: a narrative to unite the traditions of rudimental drumming


The rudimental drummers community is a diverse and vibrant one, encompassing a wide range of styles and traditions. From American rudimental drumming to Swiss Basler drumming to pipe band drumming, each tradition has its own unique history and culture. However, as we have come to know and appreciate each other's styles and traditions more, the differences and contradictions also have become more salient.


We must be aware of polarization within our own community, and at all costs prevent misundertanding, ignorance and disregards towards the other styles of rudimental drumming. Mark Reilly, former drum group leader of the United States Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, started a movement with his fellows and followed by many others towards a new common story that connects all the different styles and traditions. In this blog, in the dawn of 2023, I want to amplify this story of passion, creativity, dedication and innovation.


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Before starting with the possible solutions, let me give you a telling example of why we need this story. On our Instagram page we post many different styles of rudimental drumming. 80% of our followers comes from the United States. Every time we post a drum video in Basler style, we get comments like "what's going on with that right hand?" or even worse, "Learn your technique, stupid”. This shows unawareness of the richness of styles and traditions and all the specifics and features of the different styles of rudimental drumming. You simply don’t have to know all these specifics, but you definitely should change your mindset. That’s what we want with this common story.



Unite by shared values and goals

One possible way to create this new common story is to focus on the shared values and goals that unite us as drummers and musicians in general. Following this path, we might highlight our dedication to excellence, our passion for creativity and innovation, and our commitment to community and collaboration. By emphasizing these values and goals, we can create a narrative that brings us together and inspires us to work towards a shared vision. It’s not about interpreting that one rudiment the right way, or calling that one rudiment an ‘inverted flam-tap’ or a ‘doublé’, it’s about the passion and the love that comes with an excellent execution of that rudiment. We all share our passion, our dedication to excellence and our drive for innovation.


We can create a narrative that brings us together and inspires us to work towards a shared vision.

Unite by the role drumming plays in our lives

Another approach might be to focus on the role that music and drumming play in our lives and in the world. In this way, we could explore the ways in which our form of art bring us joy, help us express ourselves, and connect us to others. We should acknowledge the ways in which music and drumming have the power to inspire social change and make a positive impact on the world. Every rudimental drummer that ever has played in a drum corps, drum group or other kind of music ensemble can recall a memory of that wonderful feeling of making music together, having a sense of belonging. And every rudimental drummer that has ever performed in front of an audience (even if it’s just your parents) knows that special feeling of delivering the language of music in the hearts of the spectators. A happy feeling works beneficial, has positive consequences on all aspects of your life.


We should acknowledge the ways in which music and drumming have the power to inspire social change and make a positive impact on the world.


Ultimately, the key to creating a new common story in the drummers community is to find a narrative that is inclusive, inspiring, and meaningful to all members of the community. By embracing this shared story in the coming years, we can strengthen our connections with one another and work together to create a brighter future for all of us. This narrative must be one that takes into consideration the hopes, anxieties, faith, and movement of all drummers of the community. As the Dutch organizational anthropologist Jitske Kramer puts it: it must be a collective fantasy that we can all believe in and strive towards with balance between ratio, facts, and fiction.


In conclusion, the rudimental drumming community encompasses a wide range of styles and traditions, with differences and contradictions. However, in order to overcome misunderstanding, ignorance, and disregard towards different styles within the community, it is important to create a new common story that connects us all. This story should focus on shared values and goals, such as excellence, creativity, innovation, and community, and/or the role that music and drumming play in our lives and in the world. By embracing this shared narrative, we can strengthen our connections and work towards an ever growing community with a shared passion: the wonderful percussive arts.




1 Comment


Hi there, I've just read the new year's day blog. As a player and teacher for over 50 years, I find it fascinating that we still compartmentalise our art form. I have played mainly in orchestral/ wind and brass bands ,but have seen the benefit and pleasure of learning different styles of drumming, never thinking it was anything but going to improve me as a player. I played in the world PB champs in the 70s, was introduced to Basler drumming by one of the greatest orchestral players in London at the time ( if it was good enough for him....) and played alongside the Hellcats at West Point. All of these experiences inform and educate even the most seasone…

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