A basic rhythm pattern used in drumming. Rudiments, which are sometimes described as the basic “vocabulary” of drumming, are combined together to create drum-based music. The use of rudiments dates back to Swiss mercenaries; drums were used as communication devices on the battlefield for delivering commands, and for synchronizing and coordinating the actions of phalanxes of long pike soldiers. The use of rudiments developed through the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries for battle and honor guard applications.
There are three modern rudiment “schools”: Swiss Basler Trommeln, Scottish Pipe Drumming, and American Drumming. Though different percussion groups and societies have attempted to standardize rudiments, opinions vary on how many there are (most believe there were originally 40), and what types (single stroke roll, multiple bounce roll, double stroke open roll, diddle/paradiddle, flam, and drag are most commonly cited as the types contained in the original 40).
Hybrid rudiments have also begun to appear, such as the “herta,” which is a drag played using alternating sticking, “cheese,” a diddle with a grace note, and so on. Today, rudiments are often used as part of a drummer’s formal instruction process.