The snare drum
or side drum is a widely used unpitched percussion instrument. It is often used in orchestras, marching bands, concert bands, drum corps and many other applications.
It is the center of the drum kit, the most prominent drum in most marching and stage bands, and the instrument that students of both orchestral and kit drumming learn to play first.
Simple rhythms are on the snare drum as easy to learn like on Orff instruments, so that the snare drum is also a very suitable instrument for smaller children. But also older children, teenagers and adults can quickly achieve good results without lengthy lessons with a bit practice. Sophisticated playing (classical orchestras, marching bands, drum corps etc.) of course requires an appropriate training like any other intsrument.
The snare drum is almost always double-headed, with rattles (called snares) of gut, metal wire or synthetics stretched across one or both heads. There are three main types where:
A single set of snares is applied to the underside of the bottom (Resonant) (unplayed) head. Orchestral and drum kit players use extremely thin, specialised resonant snare drum heads, far too light to be played directly, for this bottom head.
Marching and Pipe band side drums have a second set of snares on the underside of the top (played or batter) head on the inside of the drum, as well as a set on the underside of the bottom head.
The caixa de guerra (“war box”) and tarol are Latin American snare drums with a single set of snares on the top of the top head. A few of these drums omit the bottom head.
Different types of modern snare drums can be found, like piccolo snares, that have a smaller depth and popcorn snares that are smaller in diameter for a higher pitch, rope-tuned snares (maracatu snare), and the Brazilian tarol, which commonly has snares on the top of the upper drumhead.
Historically, snare drums have been used in military and parading contexts to produce drum cadences. Today in popular music, especially with rock drum kits, the snare drum is typically used to play a backbeat pattern.