Snare Drum Development Overtime

A year of motion capture study coupled with technique development

The motion capture project for snare drumming started as a linguistic theory application to music technique and pedagogy. Similar to speech, snare drumming has a tradition of practices. However, different the medium of expression is, linguistic theory can be used to analyze snare drumming. 

The first set of trials were performed on October 29, 2015 in the department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. During this time, I was pursuing my linguistics degree while playing drum set in the Austin area. 

The second set of trials were performed on April 23, 2016; and the final motion capture study was performed on October 1, 2016. So, while the time length isn't quite a year, there is marked evidence in the development of snare drumming technique over time via the data analysis. 

Similarly to the comparative study for 3 drummers, the year long study of one drummer will be analyzed in terms of positions (up, tap, rest), the basic strokes which are arrangements of positions, and the rudiments which are an arrangement of basic strokes. Each basic stroke will be compared over the 3 dates. 

Comparative Study of One Drummer Over Time: Selected Rudiments

The following analysis is based on the five number summary across two trial dates: 10.01.16 and 10.29.15. The initial analysis will focus on the relationship of the elbow and radius anatomical markers and their position over time. All analysis will be done using values from the resultant vector from the data sets. 

Buzz Roll (120 Bpm)


At times, the elbom (resultant vector) and the raduis (resultant vector) antomical markers show an inverse relationship; pertaining to the frame (t) at which each anatomical marker achieves an event in the five number summary (i.e. elbow max and radius min occur at a similar frame). 


Although the data may suggest a more efficient movement for the earlier trial, the standard deviation of the positions (up, tap, rest) from the later trial (10.01.16) is of a lesser value than the earlier trial. In other words, there is more variation in the later trail, but the anatomical markers reach a more consistent point in space than the earlier trial. This can be seen visually through the tranformed graphs above. 

Flam Tap (120bpm)


The flam tap trail is unique because the data for both trials show a similar relationship of the ordering of positions over time for the radius and elbow anatomical markers in the resultant vector. However, the consistency of the positions for the older trial (10.29.15) is less consistent than the value of the standard deviation for the later trial; as seen in the data below. 


Long Roll (120bpm)


While there isn't much of a variation in the five number summary for both trials, the relationship between the elbow and radius in the resultant vector shifted from (10.29.15) a similar triggering of the relative maximum and minimum displacement values to an inverse relationship (10.01.16). This can be seen below.


10.29.15 (60 bpm)

At some moments in time, the elbow and radius (resultant vector) show an inverse relationship in regards to their position over time. However, there is a reoccurring sequence where the elbow and ulna achieve the same event in a five number summary (relative maximum value or relative minimum value) over a marked period of time.

As seen in the above graph

As seen above, the elbow has a greater range of motion in the resultant vector. This phenomenon is made evident throught the corresponding value for standard deviation for the elbow. 

10.01.16 (60 bpm)

As compared to the other trial listed above, the standard deviation of each limb is as seen below.

From the time of 10.29.15 to 10.01.16, the movement in the elbow decreased and the movement  of the wrist decreased at the 60 bpm tempo for the paradiddle movement. This is evident for the whole trial. However, the data after frame 601 for the 10.29.15 trial date is closer to the five number summary for 10.01.16 (further analysis to be conducted). 

10.29.15 (120 bpm)

Although an inverse relationship between the elbow and radius (resultant vector) shows at one point in the oscillatory pattern, most of the reoccurring sequence shows a similar movement in regards to approaching an event in the five number summary per anatomical marker. This is not true at the down stroke portion of the sequence of basic strokes (paradiddle stroke sequencing: Down, tap, tap, up). This portion of the sequence is also the initiation of the sequence. 


The movement in the elbow and radius are about the same value for the resultant vector standard deviation as 10.15, but there is an inverse relationship between the elbow and radius in regard to approaching events relating to the five number summary per each anatomical marker. 

Ratamacue (60bpm)



Ratamacue (120bpm)


A major difference from the 10.29.15 trail at 120 and the 10.01.16 trail at 120 is the amount of movment in the resultant vector for the elbow anatomical marker. 


Here are the pages relating to the analysis of snare drumming via motion capture

Experiment Date 10.29.15

Experiment Date 4.23.16

Experiment Date 10.01.16