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How to Add Versatility to Your Front Ensemble

Add versatility to your mallet ensemble with a durable field frame system that allows you to mount cymbals, toms, snare drums and more, providing percussionists with an array of sounds within arm’s reach.

Marching bands and drum corps are known for their ability to create immersive musical experiences with a vast array of nuanced sounds. One of the key tools that empowers this sonic versatility is the field frame used to house mallet percussion instruments. In this article, we’ll explore how Yamaha’s redesigned field frame system offers a wealth of opportunities for educators and their percussion ensembles.

Versatile Mounting Solutions

The Multi-Frame™ II offers a robust, reinforced frame that unlocks a realm of creative possibilities for percussion ensembles. Whether you’re in need of a mark tree for a delicate transition or an electronic percussion pad to trigger samples, this frame is the answer. Educators, who are looking to add unique textures to their ensemble’s repertoire, rely on the Multi-Frame II and the versatile RDC-10 Percussion Clamp to mount virtually anything to marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones or glockenspiels.

closeup of cymbal and snare drum attached to Multi-Frame II

Cymbals: The Multi-Frame II is most commonly used in conjunction with a short-boom or medium-boom arm cymbal holders. Most percussionists mount a suspended cymbal on the frame, but some opt for various effect cymbals, such as a splash cymbal (which can be used for splits among players), or a a pair of closed hi-hat cymbals. Regardless, the versatility from the Multi-Frame II and the cymbal holders enables you to create dynamic and impactful transitions and accents within your ensemble. Helpful Hint: To mount a crotale mounting bar, use the base tube of a cymbal holder.

Microphones: When it comes to enriching your percussion section’s sound and seamlessly integrating it with the rest of the ensemble, you may need to amplify your instruments. Programs operating on a strict budget often use bungee cords to attach a microphone to the keyboard’s rail assembly. While this method is effective, it may not be the most secure solution, and it lacks visual appeal.

An alternative approach is to utilize the instrument’s stay that runs beneath and across its length or one of the supports on either side. Here, you can securely clamp a microphone boom arm equipped with a shock mount. This setup allows for precise microphone positioning beneath the instrument, while also minimizing the risk of picking up frame noise that could otherwise be transmitted through the microphone.

In regions where external noise interference is a concern, a windscreen can further enhance sound quality by mitigating unwanted signal. This comprehensive approach ensures that your mallet percussion instruments are amplified with precision and without compromising the ensemble’s overall sound quality.

figure 1 of mounting the DTX percussion pad
figure 2 of mounting the DTX percussion pad

Electronic Percussion Pad: When you need a member to trigger samples in your ensemble, but your keyboardists are already covering another part of the composition, Yamaha has a solution. Import your desired sample and assign it to a pad on the DTX-MULTI12 Electronic Percussion Pad. This way, a mallet percussionist can play the sample, adding a unique layer to your performance. See figures 1 and 2 above on how to mount the DTX. Be sure to plan for cable routing to amplify the sample through your PA System.

This innovative approach allows you to achieve a range of sounds, including drum set (kit 009), timpani (kit 040), chimes/tubular bells (kit 041), and more. With the MAT1 Module Attachment and CL-945(L)B Tom Ball Clamp, you can securely mount your electronic percussion pad and avoid equipment damage.

closeup of concert tom attached to Multi-Frame II

Concert Drums: Educators can maximize the acoustic potential of their front ensemble with a range of concert drums. Mounting concert snare drums or concert toms has never been easier, and it can be done within seconds. This versatility allows for a powerful, horizontally and vertically aligned wall of sound, ideal for various musical expressions, from aggressive to delicate.

Pair the CL-945(L)B with the Yamaha 8000 series or 9000 Series Concert Toms for exceptional attack, brilliant tone and a wide tuning range. If you need additional low-end impact, consider impact drums, which may be challenging to mount on a field frame, but they can be transported separately. For a mountable solution, search for a standalone kick drum fitted with a tom mounting bracket and use the outer pipe assembly of a cymbal holder.

For a concert snare drum, all you need is your drum of choice and a snare drum stand. Remove the leg base from the stand, place the pipe assembly into your clamp, mount the drum and you’re ready to show off your well-rounded percussionists. For storage and transport of these drums, a hard case is an essential to avoid cosmetic or structural damage.

closeup of xylophone mounted on Multi-Frame II

Multi-Application Xylophone/Bells: Achieving the perfect balance of articulation and resonance is essential in modern front ensemble orchestration. Educators can mount a marching xylophone or bells with two clamps and an adapter. This approach is ideal for ensembles with limited resources or space, allowing you to create a well-rounded ensemble sound even with a smaller group.


  • Adjust the adapter’s placement to find the optimal playing position.
  • Exercise caution when mounting and transporting these instruments.
  • Store them in their respective cases during transit. Mounting them while the Multi-Frame II instrument is in transit is not recommended.

Trap Table: For percussion instruments without mounts or when you need a convenient way to store mallets for quick changes, a trap table might come in handy. If the trap table includes a standard pipe mount, it should fit right into your RDC-10 Clamp. This addition has the potential to streamline your performances and enhance the efficiency of your percussion ensemble.

Auxiliary Percussion: To make use of any extra cymbal holders or percussion mounts, consider mounting a range of auxiliary percussion instruments with standard 3/8″ mounts. Diversity in your percussion ensemble’s soundscape is crucial because different musical styles call for different instruments. Whether it’s cowbells for Latin beats, woodblocks for contemporary compositions, castanets for a Spanish flair or tambourines for folk music, this system adapts to the demands of various genres.

To safeguard your percussive arsenal during transport, consider investing in hard cases or soft bags designed for auxiliary percussion instruments. These protective solutions ensure that your instruments arrive unscathed and ready to contribute their unique voices to your ensemble’s performances.

Multi-Frame II with different percussion instruments mounted on frame

Get Creative

Don’t hesitate to think outside the box and experiment with unconventional additions. Drum corps are known for using metal objects like anvils, brake drums or cylinder tanks as instruments. Sometimes, the most distinctive sounds come from the most unexpected sources.

If a particular item creates the precise sound your composition needs, it deserves a place in your ensemble. If traditional mounts don’t work, consider a custom solution by involving a skilled parent volunteer. Embracing innovation in this regard can lead to remarkable musical results. By exploring the myriad of mounting options and possibilities that the Multi-Frame II offers, you can take your percussion ensemble to new heights of creativity and musical expression.

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