What is a Snare Drum?

March 28, 2022

Snare drums are by far the most famous voice in the drum kit. The usage of studio drummers who use an entirely different song to vary the overall sound in the instrument illustrates the theory in practice.

Certain players have distinct tones that distinguish them immediately, while others go at less distinct tones that blend with the music.

In addition, drummers often bring their snares when performing backline kits, emphasizing the importance of the instrument in creating a distinctive voice.

What is a snare drum?

Snare drum, sometimes called side drum, is a military and orchestral percussion instrument with several nerves, nylon, or silk strings covered in wire (snares) stretched over the lower or snare head.

The snares resonate in a synchronized way to the head below (to which the vibration is transmitted from the higher head, also known as the batter, through the air within the drum), creating the drum to emit a sharp, penetrating, and highly high-pitched sound.

Modern snare drums have a cylindrical shell composed of plywood, wood, or metal 5-12 inches (13-30 cm) tall and fourteen to sixteen inches (35-40 cm) in diameter.

The larger models, known as guards or field drums, are employed by numerous military bands. The drumheads, which are beaten using two sharp sticks, ending in tiny knobs composed of nylon or wood, are made of calfskin or polymer.

They are held in place with a hoop made of flesh (around that the membrane gets lapped) and the counter hoop. Membrane tensioning is done by screws that work independently on each head, by rods of metal, or, currently, in the case of military bands, by rope lacings.

What is a snare drum?

Brief history

Snares were a common sight in ancient Egypt and were found on various contemporary Middle Eastern tambourines.

In the middle ages of Europe, they were seen on the upper or, in some cases, on both sides of the drum tabor. Tabors with large sizes evolved into the side drum after two sticks instead of one were used, and the snares moved to the lower part of the head.

It was hung at the left of the player’s back via a belt or shoulder strap. It was also paired with the fife within Swiss infantry (lansquenet) regiments starting in the 14th century and then spread throughout Europe.

The role in the military of the lansquenet’s drummer was essential in that it maintained the pace of marching and gave signals for action.

The early versions of side drums were the same or slightly higher in height than in diameter.

snare drum history

They used more extensive membranes and sticks instead of modern instruments, creating an acoustic that was heavier and less vibrant sound.

The drum’s shape changed drastically during the 19th century, being a little slender and sometimes having a brass shell and rods or screws for tensioning.

While since the 17th century, the tension of the snares was able to be controlled with a lever or screw, only in the 20th century did a mechanism designed to release them instantly (for specific effects or to reduce the unwanted sympathetic vibrations generated through other tools).

Before the 20th century, membranes of snares were typically composed of the gut.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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