Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

John R. Raush


Today, we differentiate snare drum performance into one of two broad styles, usually referred to as orchestral and rudimental. Since all early examples of orchestral snare drum literature are rudimental or military in nature, the evolution of present-day orchestral snare drum performance from its military origin deserves careful study. The objectives of this monograph were to investigate: the function of the snare drum prior to its use in the orchestra, the origins of the use of the snare drum in the orchestra, and the developments of orchestral snare drum performance practice. This study concluded that the movement of the snare drum into the orchestra was accomplished primarily from military associations. This fact, along with significant organological information, is well documented in the abundant iconographical evidence from as early as the sixteenth century. The delay of the snare drum in becoming a member of the orchestra was due in great part to its association with "military field music" and not with the Janissary Corps, as noted by many scholars. In "military field music", the snare drum provided signals for troops engaged in combat and in other military maneuvers. This study also found that during the eighteenth century, the snare drum was considered both a folk and military instrument. As such, its use in the orchestra was limited, and drum parts were not often written. In 1706, the snare drum appeared in the opera Alcione, by Marin Marais. This monograph concluded that the opera orchestra played an important role in developing orchestral snare drum performance during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In order to accomplish the third objective of this monograph, musical examples from the standard symphonic and operatic repertoires were selected and studied on the basis of their musical and stylistic content with respect to the writing for the snare drum. This investigation examined the constant line of development of orchestral snare drum performance from its origin in the medieval tabor of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to Konsertpattur Fyair Litla Trommu og Hljomsveit, a concert piece for snare drum and orchestra written by Askell Masson in 1982.