Drumline music is utilized by members of a drumline unit, also known as a battery, in university, high school or military marching bands. Drumlines are traditionally fashioned after military drum corps in which soldiers are trained to step in line according to the cadence, and they involve snare drums, bass drums, tenor drums and cymbals. Most drumlines use a similar type of music, but there are some variations on the themes. For drumlines that perform at sporting events such as football games, the different types of drumline music include exercises and on-field warm-ups, cadences for pregame shows, stand grooves during the games and halftime routines, which are the most visible type of drumline music.
Exercises and on-field warm-ups are instrumental to a successful drumline routine. Typically focusing on rudiments that incorporate up-stroke and down-stroke motions, timing, height control and rolls, these drills help members of the drumline listen to one another and tighten the uniformity of the group. The exercises also loosen the muscles that are used in drumming and aid the members of the drumline with posture and carrier adjustment, which are important to prevent injuries and in maintaining the visual integrity of the ensemble.
Pregame drumline music announces the presence of the entire band is it marches onto the field. It sets the tone for the game and raises the level of excitement for the players, faculty and fans. Pregame drumline music typically includes the fight songs that greet the teams as they run onto the fields and the national anthem.
Stand grooves, or “ditties” as they are sometimes called because of their short nature, are songs that the drumline plays during breaks in the game. Drumlines use these songs to keep the crowd’s energy up and to possibly divert any negative or discouraging mood that might settle upon the crowd if the opponent has just scored or if the home team has suffered a setback. Stand grooves are short, loud bursts that are heavy on snare and tenor drums and that keep the crowd pepped. Some drumline stand grooves involve leading the crowd in chants.
The halftime routine for a drumline is perhaps its most prominent performance. The drumline is often the focal point of the marching band because it is accountable for the timing and liveliness of the halftime piece. These dynamic performances involve heavy drum riffs and tight choreography. The drumline music featured in the halftime routine oftentimes incorporates hit songs infused with soul, funk, rhythm-and-blues or hip-hop accents.