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Snare Drum History

Updated on March 31, 2015

Snare Drum History

Drums are one of the oldest musical instruments the humans have invented. Their design stays almost unchanged for centuries. This musical instrument is used in religious rites, military ceremonies, military ensembles, classic orchestras, different style musical bands (jazz, pop music, etc.), and even musical therapy (due to their healing vibrations).

In the following article I will speak about what drums, drum set and will focus on the snare drum history.


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About Drums

Drums as membranophones belong to the group of percussion instruments. Percussion instruments produce sounds when they are hit, rubbed, shaken, or otherwise manipulated by hands, special sticks, mallets, or brushes. Normally drums consist of one or two membranes (skins) and a circular shell box. Usually a musician has several drums tuned to different pitch. The ensemble of drums is called drum set (or drum kit).

The shape of a drum may vary per culture and musical tradition. Thus drums can be bowl shaped, cylinder, truncated, goblet, and other. If a drum is open at one end it is called one head drum, here belong timbales. The two head drums usually have tightening wires (snares) that keep the heads and the box tightly together. Such drums are called the snare drums or the side drums. Normally a five piece drum set would include: bass drum (including pedals), snare drum, floor and mounted toms, cymbals (including hi-hat and ride), and the stands.


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About Snare Drums

So, snare drum (or side drum) is one of the central elements of a drum set (drum kit). Thus let’s now focus particularly on the snare drum and have a look at the snare drum history. Snare drums consist of two heads, a shell body, snares, and a snare strainer. Early its fixing snares were made of gut cords. Now snares are made of plastic or metal cable, rope, or are just metal wire. In order to allow brighter sonority another set of snares is added to the internal bottom side of the top head. Sounding and pitching of snare drums much depends on the material, quality, and technique of using the snares. When beaten the snares vibrate and that adds to the overall drum sonority. Among other there are Maracatoo, Piccolo, Tarol type snare drums.

Drumming terminology would include some of the following: stroke (single or double), diddle, paradiddle, drag, flam, and roll. There are different techniques of operating the stick, brushes, etc over the snare drum head. Rims and shell can also be used to extract musical sounds and sound effects. Snare drum sonority can be very diverse starting form very soft and reaching to loud cracking. Tom-tom sounds become possible when snares are released by a strainer lever.

Snare drums started as military purpose instruments. They were widely used to summon military men and during parades. It is said that snare drums originated in polearms armed Swiss mercenaries or French royal guard in early 17th century. Tabors were more convenient to set the marching pace – rather then pipes. Different drum patterns were developed to communicate marching or other orders. Drums perform the rhythm and backbeat role. Nowadays drum kit plays one of the leading roles in jazz, rock, or pop music bands. Different rudimental drumming cultures exist worldwide.

Snare Drum Stick Tricks

Marching Snare Drum Solo - Memphis Drum Shop - Isiah Rowser

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    • shai77 profile image
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      Chen 6 years ago

      Thanks Pseudo scripto14.

      Happy to see you here :-)

    • pseudo-scripto14 profile image

      pseudo-scripto14 6 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for this informative hub! I've learned a lot regarding drums! So viable!

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