Tenor drums are pitched drums and careful thought is given as to which pitches to use and at which time. The pitches of the tenor drums help provide melodic or harmonic accompaniment to the bagpipes, creating a more dynamic flow between the drum corps and the pipe corps.

The swinging, also known as flourishing, associated with tenor drumming has developed somewhat into an art form with drummers playing and flourishing in unison or sequential flows.

Tenor drums are also still commonly played on a soft harness or sling, instead of the typical marching harness used by the side drums.