VIENNA ACADEMY > Percussion > Drums > Snare drum > BRIEF DESCRIPTION
BRIEF DESCRIPTION  
 

Snare drum, side drum
German: Kleine Trommel
French: caisse claire, tambour petit
Italian: cassa chiara, tamburo piccolo
 

In most cultures, the drum in its various forms is the most important and rudimentary percussion instrument. Today when we talk about drums, we generally mean percussion instruments with one or two heads (membranophones). In the western world, drums with a cylindrical shell are most commonly used.

The side drum, or snare drum, is the smallest of the cylindrical drums and is found in practically every type of western music from military music (where its roots lie) to jazz or the drum kits of rock and pop.

At the same time the snare drum is a crucial member of the orchestral percussion section. As with all drums, the snare drum has no definite pitch, or at least a pitch which is only barely discernible (the tuning of drums has occasionally been required by 20th century composers). Its relatively high register means that it covers more or less the treble register within the orchestra percussion section (which also consists of the tenor and bass drums).

The snare drum is also known as the side drum because it was originally played in military bands where it hung at the drummer’s left hip and was beaten from the side – as indeed it still is in marching bands today.

The shell of the military side drum used for marching can be up to 30 cm deep and is therefore a little bigger than the instrument played in the orchestra.

Classification
Percussion instrument, membranophone with indefinite pitch

Shell (corpus)
Metal or wood, more rarely plywood or plastic; cylindrical, depth 12–19 cm

Head
Batter head, snare head. Material: calfskin or plastic
Diameter 35–38 cm

Snares
8–18 strings of gut, metal, metal-wound nylon or silk

Tensioning mechanism
Snare release lever to tighten or lift off the snares

Sticks
Wood drumsticks of hard wood (Brazil-wood, hickory, ebony, lancewood) with round or oval tips; length approx. 36 cm.

Stand
Height and angle adjustable