Here are some tip for playing bass drum – aka:gran cassa, grosse trommel, grosse caisse
- Tune the drum as low as possible without sounding flabby. Most people tune the beating head looser than the vibrating head. The important thing to remember is not to set a pitch area which could interfere with the intonation of the ensemble.
- Always listen to the ensemble and instruments around you. Does your part match the brass or basses? If so, try to match their phrasing, articulation and timbre. It this a solo forte or an accompaniment forte? It is tutti or perhaps just one section of the band/orchestra?
- Have a variety of mallets/beaters available to bring out the warmth, the low boom sound or the articulation needed to match the ensemble.
- For concert performance, I most often muffle with my hands or leg, and rarely use an external or internal muffler. This allows me to control the duration of vibration and length of sound in relation to the music.
- A tight grip will often produce a thin sound. Keep the shoulder, arm and wrist loose and relaxed. I usually think legato with my stroke, and never force the sound.
I think the bass drum is one of the most naturally expressive percussion instruments and I hope
you enjoy playing it as much as I have over the years!
Click HERE to learn more about the concert bass drum.
Questions? Feel free to contact me through Grover Pro or my email at the University of South Florida:
Professor of Music (Percussion)
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL 33620
Professor of Music, freelance percussionist, and timpanist with Opera Tampa has worked with major conductors in the Harry Partch Ensemble, San Francisco Symphony, and the Philharmonica de las Americas. From 1975 to 1996, he was principal percussionist/assistant timpanist with the Florida Orchestra.
McCormick has written articles, solos, and the texts Percussion for Musicians and 32 Duets for Percussion. McCormick performs with the McCormick Duo, a flute/percussion duo, which has received accolades in Gramophone, Fanfare and American Record Guide. He has recording credits on Arista, Bourges Prix Magis terium, Sony, GM, Continuum, Centaur, Nuerma, Caps tone, HoneyRock, and C. Alan labels.
An artist-clinician for Encore Mallets, Zildjian Cymbals, and Grover Pro Percussion, which honored him with a signature drumstick, McCormick is a noted teacher, with many of his students going on to their own highly successful careers. In 2006, he was awarded Florida Music Educator of the Year. In 2007, McCormick was the first prize winner in the Keystone Percussion Composition Contest, an international competition to develop solo works that will add significantly to the concert repertoire for the instrument.
As a conductor, he has brought the USF Percussion Enemble to the attention of composers and musicians from around the world through its’ many recordings and first performances, which make the USF Percussion Ensemble among the most recorded percussion groups in the USA.