Published on Sunday, 25 April 2010 16:04
Written by Bruce Gale
Together with the snare drum, the bass drum is among the most frequently used percussion instruments. The player should not stand directly behind the drum, but rather slightly to the right, assuming he is right handed. In any event, the drumhead should face in the direction the sound is to be projected, which is not necessarily towards the audience. The beater is held with the same basic grip as the snare drum, with the wrist relaxed and the arm flexible.
A direct blow to the middle of the head produces a staccato-like sound.
The most common blow is a slightly glancing upward stroke, just off center. It is used for fast tempos and on the march. The extreme glancing blow and the direct hammer-like blow should be reserved for special effects. A direct blow to the middle of the head, for example, produces a staccato-like sound with maximum tone. This implies that rhythmically active passages should be played closer to the center of the drumhead, so that the sound will be less muddy. Accents should also be played close to the center. Various kinds of beaters and muffling effects add to the bass drummer’s repertoire of sounds.
Because the bass drum is a sluggish instrument, the performer has to be particularly careful about playing on the beat. This implies that he must actually anticipate the beat slightly or risk being just a fraction behind it and thus incurring the wrath of the conductor.