Bass Drum

The largest unpitched drum in the orchestra exists for those moments when a big boom is needed.

Felt as well as heard, a bass drum roll can make the ground shake under a listener's seat. A softly-played roll, on the other hand, creates the sensation of mysterious goings-on. The bass drum has two heads and a skin kept tense by threaded rods which lie across the shell. It is so large that it is usually placed on a frame and played with a single soft beater by a standing percussionist, but it is also possible to play refined rolls as the final passage of Lutosławski's Capriccio Notturno e Arioso reveals.

Fact File

Did you know?

Modern bass drums are descended from a Turkish drum called a davul.