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Rute Drum Sticks

The rute (also spelled ruthe, from the German for 'rod' or 'switch') is a beater for drums. Commercially-made rutes are usually made of a bundle of thin birch dowels or thin canes attached to a drumstick handle. These often have a movable band to adjust how tightly the dowels are bound toward the tip. A rute may also be made of a bundle of twigs attached to a drumstick handle. These types of rutes are used for a variety of effects with various musical ensembles. A rute may also be a cylindrical bunch of pieces of cane or twigs, bound at one end, like a small besom without a handle, and used to play on the shell of the bass drum in an orchestra. Rute are also constructed from a solid rod thinly split partway down.

In orchestral music, rute (or ruthe) first appeared in the music of Mozart, in his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K. 384 (1782). The setting of the opera is Turkey, and rute were imported from Turkish Janissary music, the martial music of the Sultan's royal guard, very much in vogue at the time. (James Blades, "Percussion Instruments and their History" 1992) The rute were played by the bass drum player, with a mallet striking the bass drum's head on downbeats and rute being struck on the shell of the drum on offbeats. A typical pattern in this style would generally go, in 4/4 time, boom-tap-tap-tap boom-tap-tap-tap, the taps representing strikes of the rute on the drum shell. Mozart's contemporaries and immediate successors used the rute in a similar fashion for military effect. Mahler's use of the rute broke completely with traditional military writing for the instrument, focusing more on its coloristic possibilities than on the rhythmic role. This application was continued by Edgard Varese in his wildly coloristic use of percussion.

Some attribute the earliest origins of the rute to a dried deer penis used in folkloric music, though this fact is not found in most authoritative sources.

The Rute stick for drum kit is produced by most major drum stick manufacturers such as Vic Firth, Vater and Pro-Mark.

Holding the Beater

The Rute stick is held in the same way as a Drum stick, and therefore is usually held either with a Matched grip or a Traditional grip. The "handle" of the rute is the plastic area, as the drum or cymbal is struck with the wooden "rutes" or bundles of wooden stick.


The word 'rute' is a trap for radio announcers unaware of its German origin, and who therefore assume that the correct pronunciation is 'root'. In reality, the final 'e' should be voiced, making the pronunciation 'root-uh'.

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