Breaking Down The Drumline

admin - November 15, 2021 - 0 comments


What exactly are marching band drums? Often referred to as a battery, a drumline is one of the percussion sections of a marching band and consists of a snare line, tenor line, and bass line. Especially when marchers cannot see the Drum Majors, they keep steady tempos with the band and provide rhythm upon which the music is built. Front ensembles refer to stationary percussion instruments that occupy a central position in drumline arrangements and are typically positioned in the front, center of the ensemble.

The equipment can often include keyboards, electric bass guitars, or even stationary full marching band drums sets. Front ensembles such as this are often seen when a marching band is accompanied by a drumline, providing general support and percussion for the marching band to keep time with. An extended or high-energy solo for the drum kit will occasionally be performed by the front ensemble to energize the audience.

Bass Line

Bass lines are generally responsible for the band’s rhythm. The size of a bass drum varies from the smallest to the largest, however they are usually comprised of four or six bass drums each. Bass drums are most frequently used as tonal drums, where they are split among multiple percussionists. The bass drum part is conceived as a whole, with each drummer playing a unique part.

Larger drums with heads facing the front and back sidelines, marching bass drums produce the deepest sound in the battery. They are arranged in size order by the musicians carrying them. Mallets with rounded or cylindrical heads for bass drummers are usually made from hard felt. Large bass drum lines can have up to eight drummers.

Small bass drum lines consist of four to five members to keep the melody going. Pitch bass drums are commonly used in drumlines as tone drums shared by numerous percussionists. Marching bass drums, which provide the deepest sound in the Batterie, are bigger drums that are held on harnesses or straps with the heads facing the player’s left and right. The musicians carrying the bass drums generally line up in drum size order, although for the purpose of a drill, they will take a variety of postures.

Bass drummers employ mallets with rounded or cylindrical heads, which are frequently made of firm felt. Drumlines in high schools, colleges, and drum corps often include four to six distinct bass drum sizes to assure enough for a melody.

In smaller bands, usually two or three bass drummers may be present. Depending on the brand and size, a bass drum can weigh anywhere from 15 to 40 pounds. Each drummer performs a distinct role, while the bass drum part is completely envisioned as a whole. This enables a melodic passage to be carried across the bottom drumline, with notes traveling up and down the drums and in pitch.

Bass drummers will also have unison notes, where everyone plays at the same time, in addition to these “split” parts. In addition to splits and unison strikes, the basses may occasionally play a rim click, which consists of striking a metal bar affixed to the rim of the drum.

Snare Line

marching band drums captains are usually known as snare captains. Most drummers recognize them as captains of their drumline. It isn’t uncommon to see carbon fiber heads on marching snare drums. Normally, marching snare drums have high tension heads that are made from Kevlar or PET film, although most use PET film. A snare is traditionally carried with a sling, and performers use a traditional grip, because of the tilt. Modern snare drums are fitted with rigid over-the-shoulder harnesses that provide a flat and parallel playing surface that can be gripped with the same degree of intensity as the rest of the drum.

Snare sections are often unison and give the drumline’s center beat. The snare marching band drums line is the ensemble’s tempo center, and the “center snare,” a position often held by the most experienced snare drummer, is in charge of keeping the tempo. When practicing or playing, the center snare may “tap off” the group, establishing the beat with a solo rhythm.

Tenor Line

Because there are numerous drums to play, the tenors are among of the most expert percussionists in the band. Tenor drums (also known as toms, quads, or quints) are single-headed tone drums that are often installed four to six to a set. These players give pitch variation to the drumline by using different sizes and tunings of drums. Tenor players often utilize a matched grip and mallets with plastic disc-shaped heads, while conventional drumsticks and softer mallets are frequently employed to generate distinct timbres. Tenor drummers usually perform in perfect sync.

The tenors’ role in the marching band is to provide color to the melody. There can be up to six tenor players in a huge line. Many high school marching bands will feature one to three tenors, but World Class drum corps will have four or five. They often enhance the snare part, and the tenor parts are frequently rudimentarily similar to the snare parts. Because each drum has a different pitch, movement around the drums allows tenors to function as melodic percussion.


Marching cymbals are usually pairs of crash cymbals played in various ways. Bronze cymbals with leather carrying straps Players in cymbal lines may all use the same size and kind of cymbal, or they may utilize a range of instruments. Cymbals are played in unison or in divided portions, held in front of the body. In addition to the cymbalists, snare drummers may play on the cymbals as ride cymbals or as hi-hats, therefore there is usually one cymbalist for every two snare drummers.

Cymbals are not often played in the same way as orchestral crash cymbals are. Marching cymbalists utilize a particular grip known as the “Garfield grip” (called for the Garfield Cadets who used it), in which the hand goes through the leather strap and twists, causing the hand to lie flat against the bell of the cymbal. This gives the cymbalists more control over the cymbals and allows them to do eye-catching motions like twirls and flips.


The xylophone is a percussion instrument that consists of wooden bars played using mallets. The xylophone, like the glockenspiel, is simply a series of tuned keys organized in the manner of a piano keyboard. Each bar is an idiophone tuned to a certain pitch of a musical scale, whether pentatonic or heptatonic in the case of many African and Asian instruments, diatonic in the case of many western children’s instruments, or chromatic for orchestral performance.

The word xylophone can be used broadly to refer to any of these instruments, including the marimba, balafon, and even the semantron. However, in the orchestra, the name xylophone refers to a chromatic instrument. It has a somewhat greater pitch range and a dryer timbre than the marimba, and the two instruments should not be confused. A xylophonist, or simply a xylophone player, is someone who plays the xylophone.

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