A guide to playing the horrendous snare drum part in Ravel’s ‘Bolero’

13 January 2016, 14:56 | Updated: 13 January 2016, 15:29

ravel bolero snare guide

How do you steel yourself to get through one of the most demanding orchestral parts in existence?

It’s one of the most famous pieces of classical music, but Ravel’s hypnotic Bolero is more than just an ice-skaters’ favourite.

Just listen to the snare drum part - in the piece’s 15-minute running time, there are a whopping 4,050 individual notes. Trouble is, those notes are made up of a seemingly endless repeat of the exact same pattern, making the whole ordeal an extreme exercise in patience and poise.

Here’s a graphic representation of what might go through a drummer’s head during this example of mental torture:

ravel bolero snare guide

(via tonedeafcomics.com)


Start soft

Like this guy (turn your volume up - impressive, huh?)


Don’t let your frustration show

Do not be like this guy. He is funny. But do not be like him.

The whole thing is hilarious, FYI:


Here’s how it’s done: