Historical development - snare drum - Philipp Dangas

Historical development of the snare drum

Snare drum graphic can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Small drum in small representation

In the Western European Middle Ages, the (small) drum can be found as early as the beginning of the 13th century, as an accompanying instrument for the so-called "one-handed flute" ("Galoubet"), a small beaked flute with 2 or 3 tone holes.

The player held the drum tucked under his arm and played the flute with his left hand while striking the drum with a mallet with his right hand. In the later Middle Ages, the drum became larger and louder and was made into a military instrument, especially by the Swiss mercenaries.

In the 18th century, the cylinder of the drum (“frame”), which had previously been made of wood, began to be made of brass and its height reduced. Finally, in the 19th century, by reducing the height again, today's "small drum" was created. With the development of its current basic form (with a flat metal frame, tension screws and snare strings) in the first half of the 19th century, it was accepted into the symphonic orchestra. Here it was mainly used in the "Grand Opera" to achieve realistic, mostly martial effects, e.g. by Giacomo Meyerbeer in the "Sword Consecration" of his "Huguenots" (1836) and by Richard Wagner in "Rienzi" (1842). Giuseppe Verdi also used the snare drum in his early operas with great skill and great effect.

Since that time, the snare drum has been one of the main instruments in an orchestra, namely one of the main instruments in the percussion section of the symphonic orchestra. And no longer just to perform the effects described above, but primarily as a rhythm, tone coloring and tone enhancement instrument.

Snare drum sound sample [Music by Maurice Ravel]
Download Size: 174 Kilobytes
Use of the snare drum in music
Music composer's Work Style of music
Igor Strawinski The Story of the Soldiers' Orchestra
Richard Wagner Rienzi Opera
George Bizét Carmen Opera
Giacomo Puccini Turandot Opera
Richard Strauss Salome Opera
Nikolai Andrejewitsch Rimski-Korsakow The Golden Rooster Opera
Bela Bartók The Wonderful Mandarin Ballet
Paul Hindemith Chamber Music No. 1, opus 24a Chamber music