Sound character of the Bass drum - Philipp Dangas

The sound character of the bass drum

The bass drum is suitable for a very differentiated tonal treatment. Although their sound does not have a precise pitch, it cannot be described as mere noise. The lack of a definite pitch is due to the confusion of the sound vibrations of the original definite proper tone.

The sound, however, retains its approximate pitch within the general tone scale. Depending on the size of the frame, it is in the range of the tones of: C or F. This is evident from the fact that the sound of the bass drum has the strongest resonance and ability to merge when it is combined with strongly resonant tones of other bass instruments in this bass drum location is combined.

The bass drum can therefore also be used as a substitute for a very deep timpani. Similar to the sound of the timpani, the sound of the bass drum gives the impression of being an octave lower, even 2 octaves lower, i.e. in the sub-contra octave range. As a result, the sound of the bass drum can merge with the contra-D of the double bass or the contra-C of the piano.

This results in the two main tonal functions of the bass drum:

  1. Entirely solo or combined exclusively with noise instruments, and
  2. the combination with instruments of a certain pitch.

As part of the „symphonic world music“

The tasks of the bass drum are to support the timpani in depth.

An beautiful example for the typical bass drum sound
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Sound combinations of the bass drum with other instruments
Percussion instrument Partner instruments Sound character
Bass drum Violoncello — Double bass — Contrabassoon full and sonorous
Bass drum Trombone —Double bass — Contrabassoon — Bassoon Noisy
Bass drum Double bass — Timpani Noisy