I am new to rap music, trying to make my own verse. (I think of Verse as 16 bars, correct me if I'm wrong). I was going through a producer on YouTube (The Video) where he mentioned "Snares" in close context with counting bars in a beat.

At about 0:38 he says:

…usually the two and the four are where the snares fall.

Can anyone explain me what does a snare mean? I think of 1 bar as counting 1, 2, 3, 4 and repeating the beat (Again correct me if I'm wrong)...

Thank you for help...

  • 4
    "Snare" refers to "snare drum; he mentions it to help you find the beat, saying that it often falls on beats 2 and 4. Note that there is a lot in this video that is about the way things "usually" are. There's no rule that verses have to be 16 bars; in "Gangsta's Paradise" they're 12, 12, and 8. But yes, your definition of "bar" is correct: Counting "1, 2, 3, 4" is one bar (at least, in the "4 count" that's most common). Apr 5, 2023 at 22:03
  • I think this tongue-in-cheek tweet is relevant here "Snare (classical/jazz): A snare drum; Snare (pop [music]): Literally any percussive sound that occurs consistently on 2 and 4"
    – JLRishe
    Apr 7, 2023 at 16:44

5 Answers 5


Bars are measures that music is divided into. Snares are sounds made by the snare drum. Not really related as such. However...

Music in 4/4 time (the most commonly used) is divided into 4 beats in each bar, and a live drummer would hit the snare drum (the one in between his knees) at certain points within those bars. The most often used points are beats 2 and 4 - the places where most people might clap along.

The more emphasised beats are usually 1 and 3 and those are represented by the bass, or kick drum. The largest drum in a drum kit. The snare drum is so-called as it has snares, or a strainer, underneath. They're simply a dozen or so wires slung under the resonator skin, pulled tight up to it. These rattle when the drum is played, making a different sound from the various tomtoms. (They also rattle annoyingly when the rest of the band don't want them to!).

So, there may be two snares played in each bar, on beats 2 and 4, at the drummer's discretion. The two terms are really only related as such.


A snare is a snare drum. It is the piece of a typical drum kit that is most often played on the second and fourth beats of a 4/4 time rock, pop, rap, hip-hop, R&B, etc. song.

The snare has a high, dry sound - a little bit like a burst of noise.

Here’s a short video that introduces the drum kit, starting with the snare:

Even though most rap and hip hop uses synthesized or sampled drums, it will probably help you a lot to learn the basics of acoustic drum kits, because beats are still based on the fundamentals of acoustic drum kit playing.


It would be nice if you gave a timestamp or if you quoted what he mentioned about snares.

Without addressing the video: A snare is a kind of drum, derived from the military marching drums, which feature a band of metal cords at the bottom head. This gives a snaring sound, that’s why it is called snare. The snare is one of the three principal components of a drum kit: The snare, the kick and the high hats.

In a standard rock style drum beat usually the high hats would keep the time, that is they play continuous notes (usually eighths). The kick usually goes on the strong beats (1,3 in common time, 1 in half time, 1,2,3,4 in double time) and the snare on the weak beats (2,4 in common time, 3 in half time 1+,2+,3+,4+ in double time).

This means it is common practice in many types of drum beat to put an accented snare on the weak beats, which I suppose is what this videos tries to make you listen for when counting bars.

  • 5
    'Gives a snaring sound' - I'm intrigued.
    – Tim
    Apr 6, 2023 at 10:32
  • @Tim: What other type of sound would you expect it to give? :-) Apr 6, 2023 at 16:29
  • @MichaelSeifert - a 'snarey' sound!
    – Tim
    Apr 6, 2023 at 16:59
  • 3
    "Snare" likely comes from the Dutch word for "string", not a preexisting word for a sound like a snare drum makes.
    – chepner
    Apr 6, 2023 at 19:57

P.S.: In the video

every 2 or 4 snares the rapper changes topic

only holds when the drummer plays a "boring" rhythm, see below. It may fit well, being the best choice to make musically, but you can spice things up every now and then, see below.

To add to already great answers a few remarks from a drummer.

Yes, you can play the snare on 2 and 4, while e.g. the kick drum is played on 1 and 3. That's widely used. Depending on the context in can become a bit boring, both for the audience and the drummer.

You should also listen to the HiHat (2 cymbals, which can be separated or closed), which might be mentioned in your video. On a traditional set it sounds like tik-tik-tik-tik or chick-chick-chick-chick, depending on how you operate in mechanically. In Hip-Hop the sound may be replaced by sth electronic, BUT the function is the same: to convey the relevant time division, which can be 1,2,3,4, 1,+,2,+3,+,4,+ etc. Once you can hear it, it's easier to relate the rest.

How does a bored drummer vary the snare rhythm? There are many options. I like to play the first 2 beats of a 4/4 bar uncomplicated (like just one hit on 2), and vary the snares rhythm during beats 3 and 4. A few examples:

  • skip the snare beat on 4 an shift it to the 4+
  • skip the snare beat on 4 and play earlier on 3+
  • play a series of so called ghost notes mixed with one or two real snare hits using the 16-th divisions (ghost notes are sort of soft strokes)

This creates very different feels. Rhythmically you may have listened to it in other songs. Wrt. the "boring one" and my 3 examples:

  • the simple parts in "We will rock you" (Queen) // a great song !
  • the 3 examples you can hear in many songs from the Red Hot Chili Peppers // also a touch of Funk music

Musically it may help to perceive the rhythms from the drum set as just another voice, very much like a singer, or better from a background choir. The can calm down (simple 1 2 3 4 rhythm), or contrast what was jsut sung or played.

Example - read out loud to get the rhythm, all in 1 bar:

  • "We will, we will" (1 2 3 4)
  • "I came (hm) too late" (1 2 3+ 4+)
  • "You are (normal) a great hip-hop writer (faster i.e. with a finer time division)"

Which of these syllables you emphasize by assigning it to a stroke on the snare is up to your taste.


In hip-hop music, a "snare" is a type of drum sound that typically falls on the second and fourth beats of a measure.

On "bars" refer to the rhythmic structure of a rap verse or a section of a song. In hip-hop, bars are typically made up of a set number of syllables or beats, usually four, that are repeated throughout the song. The term "bars" is derived from the idea that these sections can be separated into "bars" of music, each containing a set number of beats.

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