One of the oldest forms of marching percussion is the Rudimental Drumming culture which has deep roots within the military of various nations, while also being directly derived from the Fife & Drum Corps.
While there have been many instances and varieties of "drumlines" throughout the centuries, the most identifiable and recognized variety which is still in existence to this day was used and evolved by the Swiss mercenaries during the 15th thru 18th Century. During these times Fife and Drums would be used on campaigns and battles to provide tunes for soldiers to march to.
Over the course of time, the use of the Fife and Drum would evolve to provide communication across the military corps such as camp duty commands, operational instructions, and other important details that could not be heard by normal voice. In later centuries, the creation of the bugle became a standard part of the musical element and was integrated to provide commands, as well as music in certain instances.
Jeff Queen, Professional Rudimental Snare Drummer
Across the world, rudimental drumming has evolved in different ways while still remaining true to the basic concept of using percussion rudiments to create both basic and complex literature.
Early founders of rudimental drumming utilized drums that featured rope tension, animal skins, and gut snares. In addition to the snare drum, field drums and bass drums were utilized which added more depth and intensity to the crisp and higher-pitched voicing of the snare. These additional drums featured a rope-tuning system also used in Fife and Drum Corps.
To this day, many rudimental drummers still utilize classic style rope-tension drums that are either vintage or custom made by master craftsmen such as Loyal Drums.
Referring to the basic foundation of an idea, concept, or philosophy
Rudimental drumming is derived from the concept of utilizing percussion "rudiments" to create musical pieces, elements, and productions. Rudiments in percussion can be thought of as the universal vocabulary of preset rhythms, sticking(s), and ornaments that are recognized by most percussionists.
Artists such as Danny Raymond, Jr. have created a modern approach to rudimental drumming through the use of modern equipment, hybrid rudiments, and flashy visuals. With this new flare and philosophy for performance, rudimental performers have gained attention with legions of loyal fans, successful professional careers, and televised performances that have allowed many non-drummers to experience the level of detail and commitment that the culture entails.
While similar in style, the Basel style of drumming has been referenced and acknowledged as the foundation of all modern marching percussion. With a deep history rooted in Swiss mercenaries, the basel-style has maintained its key fundamentals and origins both in Basel, Switzerland with its annual festival as well as internationally at various inspired events.