|History of Snare drum structural design (the floating shell)|
In the 1970's the tension requirements for drums increased dramatically as players demanded a "sharper crisper" sound especially in the Pipe Bands where the overall pitch of the instruments was climbing . Everyone was after that "sweeter" sound.
Drum manufactures were adding additional brackets to the drum shell in order to attain a more even distribution of tension on the batter head and achieve the higher pitch.
In the mid to late 1970's came the advent of the Aramid fiber batter head. It had an especially dry crisp sound. The ballistic properties of the fibre allowed a whole new level of tension on the batter head of the snare drum. Tension hoops bent and brackets failed. The solution at the time was more brackets, up to 14 lug brackets in some cases.
By the late 70"s the failure mode went from bent hoops and broken hardware to crushed and deformed shells. Shells were made thicker to add strength and even load dispersing washers inset in the shell were installed in an attempt to disperse the point load at the fastening point of the bracket or lug. Nothing really worked, the life expectancy of a snare drum diminished to a matter of weeks. And the weight of the instrument had increased to somewhere around 40 pounds.
The permanent solution was obvious to two individuals, one in Canada (Cleland) the other in Australia (Lagato). The solution was to isolate the load from the structure of the drum, with opposing tension rings. Both manufactures came to the same solution with slightly a different approach the Australian solution involved two sets of opposing tension rings fasted to the upper and lower ends of the shell tube. The Cleland solution was to put the counter tensioning hoops on the top of the drum to accommodate the higher tension requirement and use the bottom head to hold the drum shell in position against the hoop assembly.
The floating shell configuration of a snare drum had been born. This configuration represented the lightest weight and best sounding solution. This base configuration is now the standard on which all current marching band snare drum manufacturers base their designs.