The Herta is the name given to a very popular “Hybrid Rudiment”. It’s been used by pretty much every drummer out there and taken to new heights of speed and orchestration by many great drummers.
You can hear it a lot in Metal/Rock music where the drummer tends to play it around the Toms. It’s also used extensively in Jazz and “Swing” music because of its natural adaptability within triplets.
One modern and popular recorded use of the Herta was by Dave Grohl on the song “No One Knows” during the drum solo section. Dave plays the Herta between the snare and High Tom and then around the Toms to great effect.
Once you are able to play this hybrid rudiment and started to use it in your own playing you will start to spot other drummers using it and you’ll be surprised by how often it’s used. Its common and popular use comes from its simplicity to learn coupled with its great sound when played up to speed.
Let me introduce you to this little gem…
The Herta – Basic Pattern (Sticking 1)
As you can see from the bar above it’s quite a simple pattern with only four notes making it up. Two fast notes and two slower notes, played simply as RLRL by the hands.
The key to its sound is the ability to hear it as three evenly spaced notes with one note doubled up. In the example above, the first note has been doubled into two faster notes while the last two notes remain.
One way to help you play it correctly is to count the notes, as shown above the exercise. Count three notes (1 2 3) and then add another note between 1 and 2 (1+2 3). Notice how the three notes remain even (1 2 3) and the “+” slips in between 1 and 2 without interfering with the pulse.
The suggested sticking I have given is the easiest way to play the Herta. Try both right and left handed (as written underneath) as the ability to play the idea both ways round will become very useful elsewhere in your playing.
Mixing Things Up
It’s also very useful to be able to play the two faster notes elsewhere within the three main notes of the Herta. In other words, to be able to double up the one note of your choice within the Herta. With this ability the Herta becomes a very flexible idea.
The next two examples show the other two ways the hands can play the Herta.
The Herta – Sticking 2
This time it’s counted 1 2+3 1 2+3, count 2 has been doubled up. Notice how the sticking means that the two fast notes start with the left hand. This is one of the uses of being able to play the Herta both right and left handed.
The Herta – Sticking 3
The last note of the three has been doubled (1 2 3+1 2 3+).
The Herta Through Subdivisions
The rest of this lesson is going to focus on the first variation of the Herta (i.e. doubling up the first note of the three). It is up to you to play with the other Herta stickings.
The Herta – Triplets
Because the Herta is made up of three notes it fits naturally into triplets. A lot of drummers choose to play the rudiment through both eighth and sixteenth note triplets.
This example shows the Herta written in eighth note triplets; notice how the Herta repeats every beat of the bar. This means that through triplets the Herta will not interfere with the pulse of the music and will be played on the downbeat every time it’s repeated.
The Herta – Eighth Notes
Played though Eighth notes the Herta feels a lot slower depending on the tempo of the song. In this example it’s repeated five times (taking two bars) before resolving on Beat 4.
The Herta – Sixteenth Notes
This is how I hear the pattern being used the most. When played through sixteenth notes, it crosses over the beat creating a cool effect that seems to draw the listener’s ear.
It’s also harder to play as the pattern is a three note pattern (even though one of those is doubled to make four notes) played through even sixteenth notes. It takes four repeats for the pattern to resolve back onto the downbeat, in this case, beat 4 of the bar.
Another way to look at how this is played is to notice the two doubled notes (thirty second notes in this case). See how every third note is doubled, one note doubled followed by two sixteenths. This is the key to understanding how it’s played. You have to feel it as a three note idea moving through sixteenth notes.
Moving The Herta Around The Drums
The next step, once the basic pattern is mastered, is to move the hands to different drums and experiment with orchestration. This is where the lick really becomes exciting; the use of other sound sources helps bring it to life!
I have given you six basic ways to move the hands around the drums. These six ideas are the most obvious ways to orchestrate the pattern and you can obviously come up with your own movements. These are a good place to start though.
Orchestration Variation 1
The faster doubled notes are moved to the High Tom while the remaining two notes are played on the snare drum. My favourite variation!
Orchestration Variation 2
The opposite of Variation 1, this time it’s the two slower notes that are played on the High Tom.
Orchestration Variation 3
The use of both Toms can really make this rudiment sound exciting. This variation moves the faster thirty second notes to the Toms (Low Tom then High Tom – RL).
If you play this idea starting with your left hand then simply reverse the order of the toms to High Tom, Low Tom. This way, the hands won’t have to cross over each other to get to the Tom Toms.
Orchestration Variation 4
The opposite of Variation 4, this time it’s the two slower notes that are played on the Toms. Again, reverse the order of the Tom Toms if starting with your left hand.
Orchestration Variation 5
You could bring in the crash and bass drum as shown here. This makes the pattern harder to play faster as the bass drum speed might be restricting as well as the further distance needed to travel to reach the cymbals. It sounds impressive though!
Orchestration Variation 6
The opposite of Variation 5.
Putting It All Together
This next section of the lesson will be showing you ways you can combine the previous six variations to create unique and exciting drum fills involving the Herta.
Remember that these are only suggestions and that to really understand the idea you should be able to create your own patterns.
For the sake of simplicity and space within the lesson I have only shown ideas written through sixteenth notes and using Herta Sticking 1. You could spend some time using the other stickings and orchestration variations to create your own unique ideas.
The Herta – Drum Fill Idea 1
This drum fill uses Orchestration Variation 1 and ends with four accented sixteenth notes on beat 4 of the bar.
The Herta – Drum Fill Idea 2
Orchestration Variation 2 with a Quad idea at the end between the bass drum and snare.
The Herta – Drum Fill Idea 3
Orchestration Variation 3 with popular sixteenth note idea on beat 4.
The Herta – Drum Fill Idea 4
The Herta itself isn’t broken up onto different drums but moves from drum to drum around the kit. This is by far the most popular way the Herta is performed around the kit and can be heard on many songs.
The Herta – Drum Fill Idea 5
This example shows how the combinations can really be mixed up. This drum fill uses Orchestration Variation 5, Orchestration Variation 4 and Orchestration Variation 3.
The Herta – Drum Fill Idea 6
Another example of how the variations can be mixed up to create unique and interesting drum fills. This example uses Orchestration Variation 1 but the Low Tom is used instead of the snare, Orchestration Variation 6 and 4 combined and Orchestration Variation 2.
I hope that you can start to see the potential mileage that you can get from such a simple three note idea. Remember that the key to understanding this rudiment is to think of it as three notes with one doubled.
This lesson didn’t talk about the other two stickings or the Herta played through triplets. It’s up to you if you whether you want to play around with these other possibilities.
The best way to experiment with this is to learn all three basic stickings first and then start to move the hands around the drums.
One final step is to introduce accents into the lick, the use of the accented and ghosted notes will add yet another dimension to the possibilities.
Have fun experimenting!
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