Rudimental Drumming Notation in SMuFL

Rudimental Drumming is a specific style of drumming, that is practiced around the world. Very early recorded instance of rudimental fife and drum refers to the Swiss Military at the battle of Sempach in 1386. Initially, Swiss rudiments were very influential to the French system, which in turn was the basis for many other rudimental systems. The notation of that style played an important role. Especially in the city of Basel, a lot of different notations have been established among the various groups (so called Clique). Those styles remain until today and are called \”Hieroglyphe\”.

But in the very beginning of the 20th century, an outstanding initial work has been performed by Fritz Berger, who initiated a new notation for the Rudimental Drumming performed in Switzerland, including the variations used in Basel. Nearly seventy years later, a group of drum instructors did a substantial redesign of Berger\’s notation and called it \”Zündstoff Schrift\”, later renamed to \”Trommelfont\”. This font took the key glyphs of Berger and simplified it on behalf of better legibility. Especially the rolls were simplified. The Trommelfont is a True Type Font, which allows proper reproduction of notation sheets – but – as one of its drawbacks, it is no available within the standard fonts used within Music Notation software.

This was the trigger for me to push the Rudimental Drumming notation to a new level, so that we can take benefit of all the digitization initiatives, especially in the education of young rudimental drummers. I learnt, that the entry gate for such a discussion is a place, where all the glyphs are consolidated into a standard. That place – it took me quite a while to find out – is SMuFL.

So I sat down and tried to identify the real requirements and differences of the Rudimental Drumming notation, including the specialities of Swiss and Basel rudiments, formulate those basic requirements and bring them into the SMuFL community. The process lasted months. But with Version 1.4 of SMuFL, we will see two first basic glyphs that are unique to Rudimental Drumming notation based on Berger. Those two rudiments are – what we call – the \”Schlepp\” (flam) and the \”Doublé\” (doublé).

The Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL) is a specification that provides a standard way of mapping the thousands of musical symbols required by conventional music notation into the Private Use Area in Unicode’s Basic Multilingual Plane for a single (format-independent) font. My request formulated as \”Add special noteheads used in Swiss rudimental drumming notation #118\” can be followed under

As those two glyphs are only a start, I would assume, that they work as catalyzer and trigger for further improvement of our notation. Once being available in a standard font set in the relevant notation softwares around the world, this will be for sure an enabler for innovation and improvement in the education sector of our Rudimental Drumming culture.

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