Snare Drum Compositions - Single line or full staff?

Do you prefer snare drum compositions on:

  • Total voters


Silver Member
I'm working on a collection of snare drum compositions for an upcoming book, and I'm trying to decide between the final print being on a single snare drum line, or the full staff.

I've attached an image of the first two bars as each example.

The famous Delecluse solos are on the full five-line staff, though strangely written in the E space rather than the C that we're used to today. However, it seems strange, with the existence of a snare drum staff, to print the whole five lines when we're only using one. I gather a lot of modern snare and percussion works in the US especially are single line these days.

What are your thoughts?

EDIT: On the example on the single line, I forgot to move the notes down to be on the line itself, rather than sitting above it. Oops!



Well-known member
I arrange and compose for marching percussion, and I always use just one line for the snares...

for my eyes, it is what I prefer, but I am sure you will get many different answers.

I always put the stems up though. I don't like reading or seeing drum music with the stems down. That is a little OCD thing with me...


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Most music is written on regular staff. To me it's much easier although, honestly its been a while.


Platinum Member
regular staff, stems up
Yeah, this seems to be the standard, at least here in the states. I'm helping students with snare stuff from a bunch of different schools and books, and it's always presented this way. Even ad hoc stuff, like audition pieces.


Senior Member
A single line looks way cleaner, which for me makes it just a hair easier to sight-read. For snare drum, there's really no reason to add the full staff.


Platinum Member
Normally I would also say full staff. But, having never seen a single line staff before, I kind of like it. It doesn't really matter, but is less busy so is easier to look at. I think I like it. It's simple, I like simple. I'll take the single line please. At least for now.


Pioneer Member
Single line. Full staff looks needlessly busy. And uses excess ink. When I write stuff out myself, I don’t bother with staff paper at all. I also vote for stems up.

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
I use single line, the notes above the line, and stems up.
In the Swiss traditional marching style from Basel (which I don’t know much), I think they place the notes above the line for the right hand and under it for the left.