Musical instruments have played an essential role in the military of many cultures for thousands of years. In Euro-American culture, drums ordered the daily lives of the average soldiers, providing cadences for marching and signals for battle, as well as marking routine activities such as meals and bedtime. The drum most associated with the military was a snare drum. Known as a side drum because it hangs on a sling at the player’s side, the cylindrical instrument has two skin heads.
The side drum is first known to have existed in Switzerland, perhaps as early as the fourteenth century, and was soon found throughout Europe. In art, the side drum is often depicted with other military equipment as a symbol of war.