INTRODUCTION its origins linked closely to the frame



The purpose of this report is to investigate the
history and acoustics of the snare drum. This report will cover the origins of
the snare drum, how it was made and how it has changed throughout the years
also the past, present and possible future uses for this type of drum and cover
the the acoustical values and property’s it has. This report will also give
examples of some of the musicians who have helped sculpt the design and
development of the snare drum and mastered it as an instrument.

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The origins of the snare drum or side drum as it is
also known as can be traced back to medieval days from at least the early 14th
century and more specifically medieval Europe. It was derived from an
instrument called the tabor although the tabor its self has its origins linked closely
to the frame drum which was 1 of the first drums to be written about and dates back
as far as the middle ages. (fig1.1) Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection. 2017. Grinnell
College Musical Instrument Collection. ONLINE Available at:

                                             This drums construction consisted of a simple
wooden frame either triangular or circular in shape with one skin head and an
open back that was beaten by hand. The tabor its self was a medieval drum that
was played with one hand and hung from the arm of the player attached by a
leather strap. Although all tabors did not have two drum heads and not all had
snares the ones that did were made up of a wooden shell and two sheep or calf skin
heads and were tensioned by rope that criss-crossed around the drum shell, and
had one or more snares that stretched across the drum head primarily made from
animal gut. By the 15th century the, size and shape of the drum had altered
slightly with an increased size and it was now a more definite cylindrical
shape and had only one snare stretched across it and was more recognisable as
the snare drum we know today.

This drum which by this time was just a simple drum
with two heads and one snare and was used first used during war as a way of signalling
to or rallying the troops and was often played alongside a pipe or (fife) as it
was known and was made popular by the Swiss mercenary troops throughout the 15th
and 16th century’s. Its construction at this time had changed and
the drum had become deeper and was being carried at the side of the body
instead if in front. Snare drum – Wikipedia. 2017. Snare
drum – Wikipedia. ONLINE Available at:

.  (fig1.2) Field
Drums (a/k/a Field of Drums): Civil War Period Snare Drum & Drum Sticks.

2017. Field Drums (a/k/a Field of Drums): Civil War Period Snare Drum &
Drum Sticks. ONLINE Available at:



By the 17th century there had been some
significant changes made to the drum with it size being reduced the introduction
in 1837 of tensioning screws that were used to tighten and hold the snare in
place and using brass instead of wood for parts as a result it gave the drum a
much brighter sound than that of its predecessor. During the 18th
century this is where we can first see the introduction of the snare or side
drum to an orchestral band being referred to at this time as a tambour and was
used during military sounding musical compositions to evoke a military atmosphere
over the piece this can be heard in compositions such as Beethoven’s symphony “wellingtons
victory'(1813) and also Josef Haydn’s military symphony (1794). During the 1800’s
it was becoming common practice for players to play two drums at the same time
usually a snare and a bass and to some this can be seen as the first steps in
the evolution of the drum kit as we know it today. By the 19th century
the snare drum had undergone further chances to its construction with the depth
of the shell getting smaller and the diameter of the drum head getting larger until
eventually the snare drum in its present shape was formed having a larger diameter
head than its depth.

 (fig1.3) Not
So Modern Drummer. 2017. . ONLINE Available at:×14-brass-mystery-silver-flake-snare-drum.



20th centaury seen two of the most significant changes to the snare
drum with the invention of the plastic drum head by a man called Marion “chick”
Evans in 1956 and the introduction of the metal snare made from coiled wire and
the introduction of the snare strainer that was invented by Ellwood E Fry in
1889 and allowed for the sound of the snare to be changed in a way that it
sounded like a tom tom drum


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