Tenor drum/field drum
French: caisse roulante, caisse sourde
Italian: tamburo rulante, cassa rulante
The tenor drum and field drum are drums in the tenor register. In both size and pitch they rank between the snare drum and the bass drum.
Historically the field and tenor drums are two different instruments. The former is up to 70 cm deep and has snares, like the side (lansquenet) drum of the late Middle Ages, while the latter is less deep, has no snares and was introduced in the 19th century to provide a contrast to the bright, snapping sound of the snare drum.
Today both drums are roughly the same size (50 cm deep on average) and possess a dark and somber timbre. In most orchestras one drum with snares (field drum) is used as an all-round instrument, the snares being lifted off whenever necessary. In Great Britain and the U.S.A. a drum without snares (tenor drum) is the standard instrument.
Because the terms ”field drum” and ”tenor drum” are both used to designate a drum in the tenor range, it is important to write ‘with snares’ or ‘without snares’ next to the name of the drum being called for.
A special form of the field drum is the Basel drum (parade drum) with its head diameter of about 40 cm and a shell depth of 40–45 cm. Among its typical characteristics is a particularly tightly braced drumhead for a bright sound (something not desired of the tenor drum). The Basel drumming style places great importance on embellishments and ornamentation and is still maintained with great care and pride by the Basel carnival societies and by drum corps in the English-speaking world.
Percussion instrument, membranophone with indefinite pitch
Wood, occasionally metal; cylindrical, depth 40–50 (rarely 70) cm
Batter head, snare head; Material: calfskin or plastic, diameter 40–45 cm
With or without snares
4–8 gut strings, snare release lever
Drumsticks of hard wood (Brazil-wood, hickory, ebony) with round or oval tips; length approx. 36 cm
Height and angle adjustable