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Fritz Berger (percussionist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fritz Berger
Died1963, (aged 68)
OccupationAuthor, Drummer, Teacher
GenreDrum and Percussion Instruction

Fritz Berger was a Swiss drum teacher and drum method book author. He wrote several influential books on Swiss rudimental drumming, or Basler Trommeln, that are still thought of as the authoritative sources for Swiss drumming in America.


Dr. Fritz Berger was born in 1895 in Switzerland and is sometimes referred to as the "Drummel-Doggter".[1] He studied the Basel style of snare drumming, called Basler Trommeln or Basle Trommel, and published the book Das Basler Trommeln, Werden und Wesen [2] in 1928. This book outlined the Swiss rudimental system in a novel notation system that was much easier to read for drummers from outside of the Basel tradition.[3] Previously, Basel notation had been either onomatopoetic, using syllables written out in letters to represent the rhythms, or later a set of symbols or hieroglyphics that were difficult to understand (without Basel-specific training).[4] Neither system used the normal elements of western music notation.[5] Berger's monolinear notation system used established musical note values and symbols and placed them on a single-line staff. Similarly to other rudimental notation systems in America, Scotland, and France, his system placed right hand notes above the line and the left hand notes below it so that the sticking was obvious.[6]

In the 1930s, Berger travelled around North America teaching his Swiss rudimental style to various drum corps, marching bands, and rudimental percussionists who had largely not been familiar with Swiss drumming before his arrival.[7] Berger's Swiss student Alphonse Greider continued to promote Berger's interpretation of Swiss drumming in North America, starting in the 1960s,[8] long after Dr. Berger returned to Europe.[9]

Berger is known to have performed Liberman's Giegy Festival Concerto for Basle Trommel and Orchestra several times, including a performance as late as 1961 at Royal Albert Hall in England for the BBC Festival of Light.[10]

Later in life, Berger wrote additional books on Basel drumming such as Das Basler Trommeln in 1956 [10] for the Swiss audience and Instructor for Basle Drumming, [11] which was published in 1964, just after his death, and circulated widely in American Ancient Drumming circles. He also published several pieces of music, including 3 volumes of Trommelmärsche [4] between 1959 and 1965.[12]

The Berger Lesson 25 is a Hybrid Rudiment named for Fritz Berger.[7] It is primarily due to Berger's (and later Greider's) influence that the Percussive Arts Society 40 International Rudiments sheet includes the Swiss rudiment the Single Flammed Mill and uses the Swiss names Swiss Army Triplet and Flam Tap in place of the Ancient American equivalents.[6] This naming convention appears to be a point of contention for Jack Pratt and the International Association of Traditional Drummers who vocally object to the Swiss influence on American rudiments[13]


  • Das Basler Trommeln, Werden und Wesen - 1928
  • Das Basler Trommeln - 1956
  • Instructor for Basle Drumming - 1964
  • Trommelmärsche Vols 1-3 - 1959-1965


  1. ^ "Fritz Berger (2)". Discogs.
  2. ^ Berger, Franz. Das Basler Trommeln, Werden und Wesen. Trommel Verlag, 1928.
  3. ^ "Strictly Technique - Swiss Rudiments".
  4. ^ a b Beck, John H. Encyclopedia of Percussion. Routledge, 2013.
  5. ^ "Dr. Fritz Berger". Robin Engelman.
  6. ^ a b Dean, Matt. The Drum: A History. Scarecrow, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Bloom, Ryan Alexander. Encyclopedia Rudimentia. New York: Hudson Music, 2019.
  8. ^ "Members list" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  9. ^ Chandler, Eric Alan, "A History of Rudimental Drumming in America From the Revolutionary War to the Present." (1990). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 4901.
  10. ^ a b Blades, James. Percussion Instruments and Their History. Bold Strummer, 1992.
  11. ^ Berger, Fritz. Instructor for Basle Drumming.Basel: Trommel Verlag, 1964.
  12. ^ Berger, Fritz. Trommelmärsche. Vols 1-3. Basel: Trommel Verlag, 1959-1965.
  13. ^ "International Association of Traditional Drummers - History".
This page was last edited on 30 December 2019, at 18:09
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