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There are many different sounds you can get out of a snare drum aside from the regular strokes in the centre of the drum. We can employ things such as rimshots, rimtaps, stick shots, rolls and more to create different effects and manipulate the drum in different ways. You can also take any of these concepts and use them on the other drums in a kit setup aswell.

The snare drum is often thought of as a fairly unmusical instrument for a couple of reasons. Firstly, its natural sound is a very short stocatto sound. Unlike a piano key where you can hold the key down to get a longer sustained note, you can't do this on a snare drum. Also it really only has one main pitch, again unlike a piano or other instruments, which have many different pitches. It is therefore important to understand what the musical options are and learn how to employ them in your vocabulary of techniques/sounds.


The first thing to observe is that when you play in the centre of the drum you get a very short, thick, consistent sound. The further towards the edge you play gradually more and more overtones and harmonics are introduced into the sound and it sound like the pitch gets higher.


This is where you hit the drum and the rim at the same time, to produce a very fat, full, loud sound. Again, the further towards the edge you play the higher the pitch gets.


Rimtaps are used in many instances where a regular snare hit is either too loud or altogether the wrong sound. To play a muted rimtap (useful in mos playing), place the stick with the butt end about 1 inch from the left side of the drum. Leave roughly 3 inches of stick hanging over the right side of the rim, and without the left butt end leaving the drum, pivot the stick up then tap the rim. This should get you a high pitched "clock" sound. Make sure the palm is on the drum at all times to help cut out overtones, and also that the finger tips make contact with the drum on impact to further cut out overtones.


You might also need an unmuted rimtap sound. Played from the same position, this time the left hands palm and fingers do not make contact with the drum at any time. When you hit the rim you get a sustained ring after the rimtap. This can be effective if perhaps you are playing patterns at the same time with your right hand, that require open tones from the drum.


Place the left stick tip in the centre of the drum on a 45 degree angle. Hit the left stick with the right stick, at a distance of approx 3 inches from the tip end of both sticks. Again as with rimshots, observe the difference in pitch if you positiob the left stick closer towards the edge of the drum.




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