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Snare drum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The snare drum or side drum is a tubular drum made of wood or metal with skins, or heads, stretched over the top and bottom openings, and with a set of snares (cords) stretched across the bottom head. It is a very commonly used drum.

A cluster of snares made of curled metal wire, metal cable, plastic cable, or gut cords is stretched across the bottom head. When the top head is struck, causing a sudden increase in pressure within the instrument, the snares vibrate against the bottom head. This produces a short, distinctive, snap-like sound. The snares can be disengaged if this effect is not wanted. Snare drums come in many different sizes as well, which ultimately changes the way the drum will sound. Snare drums that are shallow in size will give a higher "crack" sound, while the deeper ones will give a heavier and thicker tone. The same is true of drums with a smaller diameter. Many drummers opt to have more than one on their drumset for a more dynamic setup.

The snare drums used in a pipe band are almost unique in having a second set of snares on the bottom (internal) side of the top (batter) head however some military side drums have this feature also.

Snare drum, around 1780, reportedly carried by Luther W. Clark at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse
Snare drum, around 1780, reportedly carried by Luther W. Clark at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse

The drum can be sounded by hitting it with a drum stick or any other form of beater, including brushes, which produce a softer-sounding vibration from the wires. When using a stick, the drummer may strike either the head of the drum, the rim, or the shell. When the drummer strikes both the rim and the head, this is known as a rimshot. Because of the dramatic, sudden vibration on the shell of the drum, the rimshot is generally louder and more distinct than other snare drum sounds.

DW 24-carat gold Neil Peart snare drum

Originally, snare drums were military instruments originating from Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. They were commonly called a tabor and were used with the fife in the Swiss military. Today, the snare drum can be found in nearly every form of western music. Snare drums are used by fife and drum corps, marching bands and drum and bugle corps to provide a steady source of rhythm. The sound of a marching snare is a classic military sound. The snare drum was incorporated into classical music to provide color, or timbre, for march-like segments of music. It is used in popular music styles like rock and roll and jazz to provide an accented backbeat. In jazz styles, the snare drum is often used for "comping", or accompanying, supporting, and interacting with another musician's part. The snare drum (specifically, a caixa) is the driving force in samba music: ghost notes are played continuously with accented strokes outlining the rhythm. The snare is also used extensively in extreme metal, to provide a "blast beat": a rapid alternation of snare and bass drum beats.


  • Jazz: In jazz brushes are often used, so generally the drum will be fitted with a thin to medium-weight coated (textured) head, with little or no muffling. Most shell dimensions and materials are suitable for jazz, with 14"x5.5" or 14"x6" wood or brass being the most common.
  • Rock: Commonly 14" in diamter and 5.5" to 8" deep, often stainless steel. Often the drum will have some muffling, and heavier non-coated heads used.
  • Metal: This genre favors wider and deeper drums, maybe a 14"x6" or even as deep 8" (Joey Jordison's signature Pearl snare drum is of a 6.5" depth, but a 13" diameter, thus making it sound high and heavy, referred to as the "power piccolo"). Metal drummers often use materials other than wood for higher volume and brighter timbre. Metal, in particular brass, bronze, and aluminum, are popular. Some snares are made of unusual materials like acrylic plastic of carbon fiber.
  • Punk: In much early punk music the snare does not have a big voice; often it's mixed to be only as loud as the hi-hats. This may be due to punk's non-conventional standard of quality for the drummers' performance, recording quality and drum tuning. Commonly the dimensions are the same to those of rock: 14" x 5.5-6". Heads and tuning may vary wildly according to the drummer.
  • Funk: Funk snare drum work is very accented and syncopated, so in order for this to stand out, a higher snare sound is required. 13" diameters are common in funk, though 14" is equally popular (funk-drumming legend Dennis Chambers' signature Pearl snare drum's diameter is a 14"). The depth of snare drums used in funk can vary greatly. Some drummers, for example Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of The Roots, use a thin "piccolo" snare for a dry pop. Others, such as the aforementioned Dennis Chambers, opt for a 14" x 6.5" snare with tighter tuned heads in order to get a sound with more body but still a lot of crack.

See also

  • drum kit
  • drum roll

External links

  • See Brazilian Snare Drum photos and listen to it
  • Drums at - A wiki devoted to music. Has a collected of rudiments, exercises, and ideas to improve snare technique.
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