Many of us throughout the country currently find ourselves in the heart of marching band season. What we write for our drumline may sound great on our computer but may not when heard in context. Sometimes the implement of choice can make a difference to help vary the timbre and textures of the drumline voices as well as expand the soundscape of the ensemble.
On snares and tenors, use rubber practice tips that slip over the beads for a darker, mellower, and more complimentary sound to the winds.
Also for snares and tenors, concert sticks provide a lighter texture that can provide a soprano voice without overbalancing the winds. When using concert sticks in this fashion, choose ones that closely resemble the diameter and length of traditional marching sticks, so the feel for the players remain as similar as possible.
Dual-Sided Sticks (“Swizzle Sticks”)
Equipped with two different beads/sounds, swizzle sticks provide a timbre change for tenor drums within seconds and allow more flexibility for contrasting phrases.
Brushes can be used on a variety of battery instruments to provide a broad spectrum of timbre changes. Thinner, wire brushes provide a light texture whereas thicker, synthetic metal brushes create a brighter sound.
Sticks or mallets with a soft felt end can be a creative way to have a melodic approach to the battery without becoming the dominant musical idea.
Experimenting with different implements (with appropriate battery orchestration) can make a drastic impact on the musical landscape of your ensemble. Try different combinations of implements throughout your programs to “keep it fresh” and maximize the sonic palette of the drumline section.