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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Orchestral percussion

8. Concert Bass Drum

Bass drums play an important rhythmic role in symphonic, chamber and marching music. The sound of the bass drum is deep and can have either a round or hard quality depending on the type of mallet used. Concert bass drums range in size from 28 to 40 inches in diameter. A large drum is capable of producing a big, deep sound with lots of volume that can vary according to head choice, tension and choice of mallet. Obviously, a large drum is difficult to transport.

Drum Stand

The simplest way to support a concert bass drum is on a cross stand. Here the drum is in constant contact with the stand, which can create incidental noises. Another method is to suspend the drum from a framework. This eliminates noises and allows the drum to resonate fully. If the drum has to be moved frequently, a cross stand may be a better choice, as it can be folded up compactly and quickly.

Heads

Bass drum heads were traditionally made from calfskin but modern choices include a variety of synthetic materials including Fiberskyn heads designed to emulate the warm tones of animal skin unaffected by the resonance and pitch altering effects of humidity.

Mallets

Bass drum mallets vary in degree of hardness with soft mallets giving a broad, round tone and harder mallets for greater attack and volume.

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Orchestral percussion overview

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