Understanding Drums

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The Music Telegraph
Text 2019-09-27


▲ Parts of Drums

© Sonic Reality


Understanding Drums



1. Bass drum (a.k.a. Kick drum)

The bass drum is the biggest drum in a drum kit. It is played, not with a stick, but with your foot pressing on a pedal. It is used mostly to emphasize the main beats in the bar.



2. Snare drum

The snare drum is often used to emphasize the 'off beats' of the rhythm. Underneath the snare drum are the snares; long bits of metal. This gives the snare its distinctive sound in music. When played you can hear a drum sound with another buzzing sound on top, caused by the wires  banging against the drum skin underneath. To get different sounds out of a snare drum, it can be played with brushes, or the rim of the snare can be stuck (called a rim shot), or both the rim of the snare and the drum can be played (still called a rim shot, but has a lot more aggressive sound).



3. Ride Cymbal

The ride cymbal is the biggest cymbal in the drum kit. Rather than having a long sustained sound like the crash cymbal, it is used for rhythm work, as it has a shorter initial decay and darker frequencies. When played on the edge, it has a sizzling "ting" sound. When played toward the center, it has a "pingier" sound than when played on the edge. 



4. Crash Cymbal

The crash cymbal is often used to emphasize the main beats in the rhythm. The smaller cymbalis called a 'splash', and the larger is called a 'crash'. A crash cymbal can be played with soft beaters as well for more gentle pieces of music. The cymbal, like the snare drum, can be 'rolled' (played quickly with two sticks over and over again) with soft beaters to create a popular crescendoeffect (gradually getting louder). 



5. China Cymbal

The china cymbal has turned up edges and has a very dark, quick decaying sound. Those who can't afford a nice Wuhan pictured here (named after the part of China where it was "discovered") often times use a metal trash can lid as a substitute. 



6. Toms

The toms are particularly used for 'fill ins' where the basic rhythm changes to a more complex rhythm to introduce a new part of the music. The drum kit in the above picture has six toms. The toms will all be different sizes. The larger the tom, the lower frequency it will be capable of reproducing. 



7. Hi-Hat

The hi-hat consists of two cymbals placed on top of each other, which, by using the foot pedal at the bottom can be apart (called 'Open') or together (called 'Closed'). They are used for thythmwork, mainly in the closed position (with your foot on the pedal). The hi-hat is played with drum sticks, but the hi-hat can also make a sound just by opening and closing. The hi-hat open makes a more "sizzling" sound. The alternating between closed and open sounds is the main feature of playing the hi-hat.










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