Snare Drum

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The snare drum or side drum is a tubular drum made of wood or metal with skins, or heads, stretched over the top and bottom openings.

A cluster of snares made of curled metal wire, metal cable, plastic cable, or animal gut is stretched across the bottom head. When the drum is struck, the snares vibrate against the bottom head. This produces a short, distinctive, snap-like sound. The snares can be disengaged if this effect snare drumis not required. Snare drums come in many different sizes as well, that ultimately change the way the drum will sound. Snare drums that are shallow in size will give a higher "crack" sound while the deeper ones will give a heavier and thicker tone. Many drummers opt to have more than one on their drumset for a more dynamic setup.

The snare drums used in a pipe band are unique in having a second set of snares on the bottom (internal) side of the top (batter) head.
Snare drum, around 1780, reportedly carried by Luther W. Clark at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse
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Snare drum, around 1780, reportedly carried by Luther W. Clark at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse

The drum can be sounded by hitting it with a drum stick or by using brushes, which produce a softer-sounding vibration from the wires. When using a stick, the drummer may either strike either the head of the drum or the rim. When the drummer strikes both the rim and the head, this is known as a rimshot. The rimshot effect, often combined with a cymbal crash, is often used in comedy to punctuate a laugh line, especially for a particularly obvious joke.

Originally, snare drums were military instruments originating from Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. They were commonly called a tabor and were used with the fife in the Swiss military. Today, the snare drum can be found in nearly every form of western music. Snare drums are used by marching bands and drum and bugle corps to provide a steady source of rhythm. The sound of a marching snare is a classic military sound. The snare drum was incorporated into classical music to provide color for march-like segments of music. It is used in popular music styles like rock and roll and jazz to provide an accented backbeat. The snare drum (specifically, a caixa) is the driving force in samba music: ghost notes are played continuously with accented strokes outlining the rhythm. The snare is also used extensively in death metal, to provide a "blast beat": a rapid alternation of snare and bass drum beats.

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