The Full Wiki

Timpani: Wikis

  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Timpani
USAFE Band timpanist.jpg
A timpanist at work
Percussion instrument
Other names Kettle drum, Timp
Hornbostel-Sachs classification 211.11-922
(Struck membranophone with membrane lapped on by a hoop)
Developed 12th century from the Arabic naker
Playing range

Range timpani.png

Ranges of individual sizes[1] Timpani Range Individual.JPG
Related instruments

Timpani (also known commonly as kettledrums or kettle drums) are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper, and more recently, constructed of more lightweight fiberglass. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick or timpani mallet. Unlike most drums, they are capable of producing an actual pitch when struck, and can be tuned, often with the use of a pedal mechanism to control each drum's range of notes. Timpani evolved from military drums to become a staple of the classical orchestra by the last third of the 18th century. Today, they are used in many types of musical ensembles including concert, marching percussion, and even some rock bands.

Timpani is an Italian plural, the singular of which is timpano. However, in informal English speech a single instrument is rarely called a timpano: several are more typically referred to collectively as kettledrums, timpani, or simply timps. They are also often incorrectly termed timpanis. A musician who plays the timpani is known as a timpanist.

Contents

Alternative spellings and etymology

Alternative spellings with y in place of either or both is—tympani, tympany, or timpany—are occasionally encountered in older English texts. This substitution is taken from the Greek word tympanon (pl. tympana), from which via Latin tympanum (pl. tympani) the Italian word descends, ultimately from "typto" (τύπτω) meaning "beat" or "strike" [2]. While the word timpani has been widely adopted in the English language, some English speakers choose to use the word kettledrums.[3] The German word for timpani is Pauken; the French and Spanish is timbales.

The tympanum is defined in the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville:

Tympanum est pellis vel corium ligno ex una parte extentum. Est enim pars media symphoniae in similitudinem cribri. Tympanum autem dictum quod medium est. Unde, et margaritum medium tympanum dicitur, et ipsum ut symphonia ad virgulam percutitur.

The tympanum is [an instrument made of] skin or hide stretched over a hollow wooden vessel which extends out. It is said by the symphonias to resemble a sieve, but has also been likened to half a pearl. It is struck with a wand [stick], beating time for the symphonia.

The reference comparing the tympanum to half a pearl is borrowed from Pliny the Elder.[4]

Construction

Basic timpani

The basic timpani drum consists of a drumhead stretched across the opening of a bowl typically made of copper[5] or, in less expensive models, fiberglass and sometimes aluminum. On rare occasions, primarily as drums to be presented to an ensemble, silver bowls have been produced.[6] In the Sachs-Hornbostel classification, the timpani are thus considered membranophones. The drumhead is affixed to a hoop (also called a fleshhoop)[3], which in turn is held onto the bowl by a counterhoop[3], which is then held by means of a number of tuning screws called tension rods placed regularly around the circumference. The head's tension can be adjusted by loosening or tightening the rods. Most timpani have six to eight tension rods.[5]

The shape of the bowl contributes to the tone quality of the drum. For example, hemispheric bowls produce brighter tones while parabolic bowls produce darker tones.[7] Another factor that affects the timbre of the drum is the quality of the bowl's surface. Copper bowls may have a smooth, machined surface or a rough surface with many small dents hammered into it.

Timpani come in a variety of sizes from about 84 centimeters (33 inches) in diameter down to piccolo timpani of 30 centimeters (12 inches) or less.[3] A 33-inch drum can produce the C below the bass clef, and specialty piccolo timpani can play up into the treble clef. In Darius Milhaud's 1923 ballet score La création du monde, the timpanist must play the F sharp at the bottom of the treble clef.

Each individual drum typically has a range of a perfect fifth .[3]

Walter Light pedal and chain timpani set up in three different combinations.

Machine timpani

Changing the pitch of a timpani by turning each tension rod individually is a laborious process. In the late 19th century, mechanical systems to change the tension of the entire head at once were developed. Any timpani equipped with such a system may be called machine timpani, although this term commonly refers to drums that use a single handle connected to a spider-type tuning mechanism.[5]

This pedal is on a Dresden timpano. The timpanist must disengage the clutch – seen here on the left of the pedal – to change the pitch of the drum.

Pedal timpani

By far the most common type of timpani used today is the pedal timpani, which allows the tension of the head to be adjusted using a pedal mechanism. Typically, the pedal is connected to the tension screws via a spider-like system of metal rods.

There are three types of pedal mechanisms in common use today:

  • The ratchet clutch system uses a ratchet and pawl to hold the pedal in place. The timpanist must first disengage the clutch before using the pedal to tune the drum. When the desired pitch is achieved, the timpanist must then reengage the clutch.
  • In the balanced action system, a spring or hydraulic cylinder is used to balance the tension on the timpani head so that the pedal will stay in position and the head will stay at pitch. The pedal on a balanced action drum is sometimes called a floating pedal since there is no clutch holding it in place.
  • The friction clutch or post and clutch system uses a clutch that moves along a post. Disengaging the clutch frees it from the post, allowing the pedal to move without restraint.

Professional level drums use either the ratchet or friction system and have copper bowls. These drums can have one of two styles of pedals. The Dresden pedal is attached to the drum at the side nearest the player, and is operated by ankle motion. A Berlin-style pedal is attached by means of a long arm to the opposite side of the drum, and the timpanist must use his entire leg to adjust the pitch. In addition to a pedal, high-end instruments have a hand-operated fine tuner, which allows the timpanist to make minute pitch adjustments. The pedal is on either the left or right side of the drum depending on where it is set up.

Most school bands and orchestras below a university level use less expensive, more durable timpani with either copper, fiberglass, or aluminum bowls. The mechanical parts of these instruments are almost completely contained within the frame and bowl of the drum. They may use any of the pedal mechanisms, though the balanced action system is by far the most common, followed by the friction clutch system. Many professionals also use these drums for outdoor performances due to their durability and lighter weight. The pedal is in the center of the drum.

The ratchet pedal is favored because of its tuning stability. However, the ratchet teeth limit accuracy, making necessary a fine tuner. The friction post system eliminates this problem, allowing the pedal to be locked anywhere. Both of these systems are not preferable when performing repertoire requiring quick tuning changes or glissandos, as the pedal requires a complex maneuver. In such situations, balanced action timpani are used.

Chain timpani

On chain timpani, a chain links the tension rods so a master handle can be used to turn them all at once.

On chain timpani, the tension rods are connected by a roller chain much like the one found on a bicycle, though some manufacturers have used other materials, including steel cable. In these systems, all the tension screws can then be tightened or loosened by one handle. Though far less common than pedal timpani, chain and cable drums still have practical uses. Occasionally, a player is forced to place a drum behind other items so that he cannot reach it with his foot. Professional players may also use exceptionally large or small chain and cable drums for special lower or high notes.

Other tuning mechanisms

A rare tuning mechanism allows the pitch of the head to be changed by rotating the drum itself. A similar system is used on rototoms. Jenco, a company better known for mallet percussion, made timpani tuned in this fashion.

In the early 20th century, Hans Schnellar, the timpanist of the Vienna Philhamonic, developed a tuning mechanism in which the bowl is moved via a handle that connects to the base, and the head remains stationary. These drums are referred to as Viennese timpani (Wiener Pauken) or Schnellar timpani. Adams Musical Instruments developed a pedal-operated version of this tuning mechanism in the early 21st century.

Timpani heads

Like most drumheads, timpani heads can be found made from two materials: animal skin (typically calfskin or goatskin)[3] and plastic (typically PET film). Plastic heads are durable, weather resistant, and relatively inexpensive. Thus, they are more commonly used than natural skin heads.[3] However, many professional players prefer skin heads because they feel the heads produce a warmer, better quality timbre. Timpani heads are sized based on the size of the head, not the size of the timpani bowl. For example, a 23" Timpani may require a 25" timpani head.

Sticks and mallets

Timpanists use a variety of timpani sticks since each stick produces a different timbre.

Timpani are typically struck with a special type of drumstick fittingly called a timpani stick or timpani mallet. Timpani sticks are used in pairs. They have two components: a shaft and a head. The shaft is typically made from hardwood or bamboo, but may also be made from aluminum or carbon fiber. The head of the stick can be constructed from a number of different materials, though felt wrapped around a wood core is the most common. Other core materials include compressed felt, cork, and leather, and other wrap materials include chamois and flannel. Sticks can also have exposed wood heads.[3] These are used as a special effect and in authentic performances of Baroque music.

Traditional methods of wrapping the felt are to use either a rectangle of felt sewn into a cylinder which is then placed over the core and sewn at each end (although this method produces an un-playable seam which has to be marked so the timpanist can avoid it), or to use a circle of felt which is sewn around its circumference and teased and pulled tight over the core. In 1979 David Morbey from the UK introduced a new and unique method of wrapping the felt which eliminated many of the problems associated with traditional wrapping methods. His new method produced a soft felt cover free from any folds or seams and also made it possible to easily use ball shaped cores for better sound. The method allowed the felt to be applied in many different thicknesses and, for the first time, made it possible to produce very articulate sounding sticks with excellent tone by being able to wrap the core with a very thin layer of the soft felt.

Although not usually stated in the score, timpanists will change sticks—often many times within the same piece—to suit the nature of the music. However, choice of stick during performance is entirely subjective and depends on the timpanist's own preference, and occasionally, the wishes of the conductor. Thus, most timpanists own a great number of mallets available towards any given musical performance.[3] The weight of the stick, the size and latent surface area of the head, the materials used for the shaft, core, and wrap, and the method used to wrap the head all contribute to the timbre the stick produces.

In the early 20th century and before, sticks were often made with whalebone shafts, wood cores, and sponge wraps. Composers of that era often specified sponge-headed sticks. Modern timpanists execute such passages with standard felt mallets.

Popular Grips

The two most common grips in playing the timpani are the German and French grips. In the German grip, the palm of the hand should be parallel to the drum head and the thumb should be on the side of the stick. In the French grip, the palm of the hand should be close to perpendicular with drum head and the thumb should be on top of the stick. In both of these styles, as with most percussion grips, the fulcrum consists of the contact between the thumb and middle finger. The index finger is used as a guide an to help lift the stick off of the drum.[8] The American grip is a hybrid of these two grips.

In the modern ensemble

A standard set of timpani consists of four drums.

A set of timpani

A standard set of timpani (sometimes called a timpani console) consists of four drums: roughly 32 inches (81 cm), 29 inches (74 cm), 26 inches (66 cm), and 23 inches (58 cm) in diameter.[9] The range of this set is roughly the D below the bass clef to the top-line bass clef A. A great majority of the orchestral repertoire can be played using these four drums. However, Leonard Bernstein requires the timpanist to execute both a top-line bass clef A flat and the B flat above it on the same drum in the Overture to Candide. Adding a 51 centimetres (20 in) piccolo timpano to the standard set of four extends the range upwards by a few semitones. This is the instrument which Igor Stravinsky specifies for the production of the B below middle C in The Rite of Spring, and from which Maurice Ravel expects the D above that in L'Enfant et les Sortilèges. Walter Piston points out that "these small drums, even if available, certainly lack the characteristic resonance and sonority of timpani".

Beyond this extended set of five instruments, any added drums are nonstandard. Many professional orchestras and timpanists own multiple sets of timpani consisting of both pedal and chain drums allowing them to execute music that cannot be more accurately performed using a standard set of four or five drums.

Many schools and ensembles unable to afford purchase of this equipment regularly rely on a set of two or three timpani, which is the more traditional number sometimes referred to as "the Orchestral three".[3] It consists of 75 centimetres (30 in), 66 centimetres (26 in), and 61 centimetres (24 in) drums. Its range extends down only to the F below the bass clef.

The drums are set up in an arc around the performer. Traditionally, North American, British and French timpanists set their drums up with the lowest drum on the left and the highest on the right, while German, Austrian, and Greek players set them up the opposite way.[3] Over time, that distinction has blurred: many German and European players have adopted the North American layout and vice versa.

Timpanists

Balanced action timpani are used in outdoor performances because of their durability.

Throughout their education, timpanists are trained as percussionists, and they learn to play all instruments of the percussion family along with timpani. However, when appointed to a principal timpani chair in a professional orchestra or concert band, a timpanist is not normally required to play any other instruments (unless specifically written into the music or based on the needs of the section). In his book Anatomy of the Orchestra, Norman Del Mar writes that the timpanist is "king of his own province", and that "a good timpanist really does set the standard of the whole orchestra." A qualified member of the percussion section sometimes doubles as associate timpanist, performing in some repertoire—such as Romantic and 20th century works for large orchestras, although the early Romantic composer Hector Berlioz calls for eight pairs of timpani played by ten timpanists in the Grande Messe des morts.

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

Timpani concertos

A few concertos have been written for timpani. The 18th century composer Johann Fischer wrote a symphony for eight timpani and orchestra, which requires the solo timpanist to play eight drums simultaneously. Rough contemporaries Georg Druschetzky and Johann Melchior Molter also wrote pieces for timpani and orchestra, and these have all been recorded.

Throughout the 19th century and much of the 20th, there were no new timpani concertos. Then, in 1983, William Kraft, a well regarded American percussionist and composer, composed his Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, which won second prize in the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards. Gordon Jacob wrote a concerto for timpani and wind band in 1984. In 1985, John Beck composed a concerto for timpani and percussion ensemble. In the year 2000, American composer Philip Glass created his Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, which features its soloists each playing seven timpani. Ney Rosauro composed Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra (as well as versions for the soloist accompanied by wind ensemble and percussion ensemble); in this piece, the timpanist requires five timpani.

Performance techniques

Striking the drum

For general playing, a timpanist will beat the head approximately 4 inches in from the edge.[9] Beating at this spot produces the round, resonant sound commonly associated with timpani. A timpani roll is executed by rapidly striking the drum, alternating between left and right sticks, extending the duration of the sound as required and allowing increases or decreases in volume. Anton Bruckner's 7th Symphony requires a continuous roll on a single drum for over two-and-a-half minutes. In general, timpanists do not use multiple bounce rolls like those played on the snare drum, as the soft nature of timpani sticks causes the rebound of the stick to be reduced, causing multiple bounce rolls to sound muffled.[3]

The tone quality of the drum can be altered without switching sticks or adjusting the tuning of the drum. For example, by playing closer to the edge of the head, the sound becomes thinner.[3] A more staccato sound can be produced by changing the velocity of the stroke or playing closer to the center of the head. There are many more variations in technique a timpanist uses during the course of playing to produce subtle timbral differences.

Tuning

Prior to playing the instruments, the timpanist must clear the heads by equalizing the tension at each tuning screw. This is done so every spot on the head is tuned to exactly the same pitch. When the head is clear, the timpano will produce a beautiful, in-tune sound. If the head is not clear, the pitch of the drum will rise or fall after the initial impact, and the drum will produce different pitches at different dynamic levels. Timpanists are required to have a well-developed sense of relative pitch, and must develop techniques to tune undetectably and accurately in the middle of a performance.

Some timpani are equipped with tuning gauges, which provide a visual indication of the drum's pitch. They are physically connected either to the counterhoop, in which case the gauge indicates how far the counterhoop is pushed down, or the pedal, in which case the gauge indicates the position of the pedal. These gauges are accurate when used correctly. However, when the instrument is disturbed in some fashion (transported, for example), the overall pitch of the head can change, thus the markers on the gauges may not remain reliable unless they have been adjusted immediately preceding the performance. The pitch of the head can also be changed by room temperature and humidity. This effect also occurs due to changes in weather, especially if an outside performance is to take place. Gauges are especially useful when performing music that involves fast tuning changes that do not allow the player to listen to the new pitch before playing it. Even when gauges are available, good timpanists will check their intonation by ear before playing.

Occasionally, players use the pedals to retune a drum while playing it. Portamento effects can be achieved by changing the pitch of the drum while it can still be heard. This is commonly called a glissando, though this use of the term is not strictly correct. The most effective glissandos are those from low notes to high notes and those performed during rolls. One of the first composers to call for a timpani glissando was Carl Nielsen, who used two sets of timpani, both playing glissandos at the same time, in his Symphony No. 4 ("The Inextinguishable").

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

Pedaling refers to changing the pitch of the drum with the pedal; it is an alternate term for tuning. In general, timpanists reserve this term for passages where the performer must change the pitch of a drum in the midst of playing – for example, playing two consecutive notes of different pitches on the same drum. Early 20th century composers such as Nielsen, Béla Bartók, Samuel Barber, and Richard Strauss took advantage of the freedom pedal timpani afforded, often giving the timpani the bass line.

This chromatic passage from the Intermezzo interrotto movement of Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra requires the timpanist to use the pedals to play all the pitches. One way of executing this passage is annotated here: The lowest and highest drum stay on F and E-flat, respectively. All pedaling is executed on the middle two drums. Each pedal change is indicated by a colored line: red for the larger and blue for the smaller of the middle drums.
Problems listening to this file? See media help.

Muffling

Muffling or dampening is an implicit part of playing timpani. Often, timpanists will muffle notes so they only sound for the length indicated by the composer. However, early drums did not resonate nearly as long as modern timpani, so composers often wrote a note when the timpanist was to hit the drum without worrying about the sustain. Today, timpanists must use their ear and the score of the piece to determine the actual length the note should sound.

The typical method of muffling is to place the pads of the fingers against the head while holding onto the timpani stick with the thumb and index finger. Timpanists are required to develop techniques to stop all vibration of the drumhead without making any sound from the contact of their fingers.[9]

Muffling is often referred to as muting, which can also refer to playing the drums with mutes on them (see below).

Extended techniques

It is typical for only one timpano to be struck at a time, but occasionally composers will ask for two notes to be struck at once. This is called a double stop, a term borrowed from the string instrument vocabulary. Ludwig van Beethoven uses this effect in the slow movement of his Ninth Symphony. These demands tend to be made by more modern composers who sometime require more than two notes at once. In this case, a timpanist can hold two sticks in one hand much like a marimbist, or more than one timpanist can be employed. Hector Berlioz writes fully voiced chords for eight timpanists, each playing a pair of drums, in Grande Messe des morts.

When the timpani are struck directly in the center of the head, the drums have a sound that is almost completely devoid of tone and resonance. George Gershwin uses this effect in An American in Paris. A variation of this is to strike the head while two fingers of one hand lightly press and release spots near the center. When done correctly, the head will vibrate at a harmonic, much like the similar effect on a string instrument. Resonance can also cause drums not in use to vibrate causing a more quiet sound to be produced. In orchestral playing, timpanists must avoid this effect, called sympathetic resonance, but composers have exploited this effect in solo pieces, such as Elliot Carter's Eight Pieces for Four Timpani. Resonance is reduced by damping or muting the drums, and in some cases composers will specify that timpani be played con sordino (with mute) or coperti (covered), both of which indicate that mutes should be placed on the head. Timpani mutes are typically small pieces of felt or leather. The degree the head is dampened can be altered by placing the mute at different spots on the head. Barber specifies that the timpani be played con sordino in a section of Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance. Additionally, mutes are often placed on unused drums to prevent sympathetic resonance.

Composers will sometimes specify that the timpani should be struck with implements other than timpani sticks. It is common in timpani etudes and solos for performers to play with their hands or fingers. Leonard Bernstein calls for maracas on timpani in both the "Jeremiah" Symphony and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Edward Elgar attempts to use the timpani to imitate the engine of an ocean liner in his "Enigma" Variations by requesting the timpanist play with snare drum sticks. However, snare drum sticks tend to produce too loud a sound, and since this work's premiere, the passage in question has been performed by striking the timpani with coins.

Robert W. Smith's Songs of Sailor and Sea calls for a "whale sound" on the largest timpano. This is achieved by moistening the thumb and rubbing it from the edge to the center of the drumhead. This effect can be used on other percussion instruments, notably the Tambourine where it is called a "thumb roll". Amongst other techniques used primarily in solo work, such as John Beck's Sonata for Timpani, is striking the copper bowls. Timpanists tend to be reluctant to strike the bowls at loud dynamic levels or with hard sticks, since copper can be dented easily.

On some occasions a composer may ask for a metal object, commonly an upside-down cymbal, to be placed upon the drumhead and then struck or rolled while executing a glissando on the drum. Joseph Schwantner used this technique in From A Dark Millennium.

History

In the 15th century, timpani were used with trumpets as ceremonial instruments in the cavalry.

Pre-orchestral history

Dukar-Tikar, from Nagara genre, kettledrums which accompany the Shehnai, a woodwind instrument. Rajasthan, India.

It has been said that the first recorded use of early Tympanum, was in "ancient times when it is known that they were used in religious ceremonies by Hebrews."[9]

The Moon of Pejeng, also known as the Pejeng Moon,[10] in Bali, the largest single-cast bronze kettle drum in the world,[11] is more than two thousand years old.[12] The Moon of Pejeng is "the largest known relic from Southeast Asia's Bronze Age period. According to Balinese legend, the Pejeng Moon was a wheel of the chariot that pulled the real moon through the night sky. One night, as the chariot was passing over Pejeng, the wheel detached and fell to earth, landing in a tree, where it glowed nearly as brightly as the real moon. This light disturbed a thief who, annoyed, climbed the tree and urinated on it; the thief paid for his sacrilege with his life. The moon eventually cooled and has been preserved as a sacred relic by the local villagers.[13] The drum is in the Pura Penataran Asih temple."[14]

In 1188, Cambro-Norman chronicler Gerald of Wales wrote, "Ireland uses and delights in two instruments only, the harp namely, and the tympanum."[15]

Arabic nakers, the direct ancestors of most timpani, were brought to 13th century Continental Europe by Crusaders and Saracens.[5] These drums, which were small (with a diameter of about 20–22 cm or 8–8½ in) and mounted to the player's belt, were used primarily for military ceremonies. This form of timpani remained in use until the 16th century.

In 1457, a Hungarian legation sent by King Ladislaus V carried larger timpani mounted on horseback to the court of King Charles VII in France. This variety of timpani had been used in the Middle East since the 12th century. These drums evolved together with trumpets to be the primary instruments of the cavalry. This practice continues to this day in sections of the British Army, and timpani continued to be paired with trumpets when they entered the classical orchestra.

Over the next two centuries, a number of technical improvements were made to timpani. Originally, the head was nailed directly to the shell of the drum. In the 15th century, heads began to be attached and tensioned by a counterhoop that was tied directly to the shell. In the early 16th century, the bindings were replaced by screws. This allowed timpani to become tunable instruments of definite pitch.[3]

Timpani in the orchestra

Jean-Baptiste Lully is the first known composer to have scored for timpani, which he included in the orchestra for his 1675 opera Thésée. Other seventeenth-century composers soon followed suit. At that time, timpani are almost always tuned with the tonic note of the piece on the high drum and the dominant on the low drum – a perfect fourth apart. Timpani are often treated as transposing instruments in the music of this period: the notes were written as C and G with the actual pitches indicated at the top of the score (for example, Timpani in D–A).[5]

Later in the Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a secular cantata titled "Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!", which translates roughly to "Sound off, ye timpani! Sound, trumpets!" Naturally, the timpani are placed at the forefront: the piece starts with a timpani solo and the chorus and timpani trade the melody back and forth. Bach reworked this movement in part 1 of the Christmas Oratorio.

Although by the early 19th century, timpani were most commonly found in orchestras, ceremonial trumpet and timpani ensembles still existed.

Ludwig van Beethoven revolutionized timpani music in the early 19th century. He not only wrote for drums tuned to intervals other than a fourth or fifth, but he gave a prominence to the instrument as an independent voice beyond programmatic use (as in Bach's "Tönet, ihr Pauken!"). For example, his Violin Concerto (1806) opens with four solo timpani strokes, and the scherzo of his Ninth Symphony (1824) sets the timpani against the orchestra in a sort of call and response.[16]

The next major innovator was Hector Berlioz. He was the first composer to indicate the exact sticks that should be used – "felt-covered", "wooden", etc. In several of his works, including Symphonie fantastique (1830), he demanded the use of several timpanists at once.[9]

Until the late 19th century, timpani were hand-tuned; that is, there was a sequence of screws with T-shaped handles, called taps, which altered the tension in the head when turned by players. Thus, tuning was a relatively slow operation, and composers had to allow a reasonable amount of time for players to change notes if they wanted to be sure of a true note. The first 'machine' timpani, with a single tuning handle, was developed in 1812.[17] The first pedal timpani originated in Dresden in the 1870s and are called Dresden timpani for this reason.[5] However, since vellum was used for the heads of the drums, automated solutions were difficult to implement since the tension would vary unpredictably across the drum. This could be compensated for by hand-tuning, but not easily by a pedal drum. Mechanisms continued to improve in the early 20th century.

Despite these problems, composers eagerly exploited the opportunities the new mechanism had to offer. By 1915, Carl Nielsen was demanding glissandos on timpani in his Fourth Symphony—impossible on the old hand-tuned drums. However, it took Béla Bartók to more fully realize the flexibility the new mechanism had to offer. Many of his timpani parts require such a range of notes that it would be unthinkable to attempt them without pedal drums.

Timpani outside the orchestra

This 1976 photograph shows marching timpani grounded with legs extended.

Later, timpani were adopted into other classical music ensembles such as concert bands. In the 1970s, marching bands and drum and bugle corps, which evolved both from traditional marching bands and concert bands, began to include marching timpani. Unlike concert timpani, marching versions had fiberglass shells to make them light enough to carry. Each player carried a single drum, which was tuned by a hand crank. Often, during intricate passages, the timpani players would put their drums on the ground by means of extendable legs, and performed more like conventional timpani, yet with a single player per drum. In the late 70's and early 1980s marching arts-based organizations allowance for timpani and other percussion instruments to be permanently grounded became mainstream. This was the beginning of the end for marching timpani: Eventually, standard concert timpani found their way onto the football field as part of the front ensemble, and marching timpani fell out of common usage.

Timpani are still used by the Mounted Bands of the Household Division of the British Army.[18]

As rock and roll bands started seeking to diversify their sound, timpani found their way into the studio. Starting in the 1960s, drummers for high profile rock acts like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, and Queen incorporated timpani into their music. This led to the use of timpani in progressive rock. Emerson, Lake & Palmer recorded a number of rock covers of classical pieces that utilize timpani. More recently, rock band Muse (band) has incorporated timpani into some of their classically-based songs, most notably in Exogenesis: Symphony, Part I (Overture).

Jazz musicians also experimented with timpani. Sun Ra used it occasionally in his Arkestra (played, for example, by percussionist Jim Herndon on the songs "Reflection in Blue" and "El Viktor," both recorded in 1957). In 1964, Elvin Jones incorporated timpani into his drum kit on John Coltrane's four-part composition A Love Supreme.

Jonathan Haas is one of the few timpanists who markets himself as a soloist. Haas, who began his career as a solo timpanist in 1980, is notable for performing music from many genres including jazz, rock, and classical. In fact, he released an album with a rather unconventional jazz band called Johnny H. and the Prisoners of Swing. Glass's Concerto Fantasy, commissioned by Haas, put two soloists in front of the orchestra, an atypical placement for the instruments. Haas also commissioned Susman's "Floating Falling" for timpani and cello.

List of selected works for timpani

  • Philip Glass
    • Concerto Fantasy for two Timpanists and Orchestra
  • Gordon Jacob
    • Concerto for Wind Band, Timpani, and Orchestra

Music samples

  • Bugler's Dream
    File:John Williams Olympic Fanfare.ogg
    Leo Arnaud's Bugler's Dream has a timpani fanfare to begin the piece and beats throughout. It is the Olympic theme.
  • Problems listening to the files? See media help.

See also

References

  1. ^ Samuel Z. Solomon, "How to Write for Percussion", pg. 65-66. Published by the author, 2002. ISBN 0-9744721-0-7
  2. ^ "Perseus Word Study Tool". http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/morphindex?lang=greek&lookup=tu%2Fptw. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Grove, George (January 2001). Stanley Sadie. ed. The New Grove Encyclopædia of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). Grove's Dictionaries of Music. Volume 18, pp826–837. ISBN 1561592390. 
  4. ^ Natural History IX. 35, 23. Quoted in Wikisource-logo.svg "Symphonia". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Bridge, Robert. "Timpani Construction paper" (PDF). http://myhome.sunyocc.edu/~bridger/morepages/subpages/timpconstpaper.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  6. ^ Beating Retreat page showing silver drums in the Mounted bands.
  7. ^ Power, Andrew (April 1983). "Sound Production of the Timpani, Part 1". Percussive Notes (Percussive Arts Society) 21 (4): 62–64. 
  8. ^ Stewart Hoffman Music, http://www.stewarthoffmanmusic.com/articles-percussion-techniques.php?id=47, 2007
  9. ^ a b c d e Goodman, Saul (1988) [1948]. Modern Method for Tympani. Van Nuys, California: Alfred Publishing Company, Inc.. ISBN 0-7579-9100-9. 
  10. ^ For a thorough scholarly analysis of the Pejeng Moon and the type of drum named after it, see August Johan Bernet Kempers, "The Pejeng type," The Kettledrums of Southeast Asia: A Bronze Age World and Its Aftermath (Taylor & Francis, 1988), 327-340.
  11. ^ Iain Stewart and Ryan Ver Berkmoes, Bali & Lombok (Lonely Planet, 2007), 203.
  12. ^ Yayasan Bumi Kita and Anne Gouyon, The Natural Guide to Bali: Enjoy Nature, Meet the People, Make a Difference (Tuttle Publishing, 2005), 109.
  13. ^ Pringle, Robert (2004). Bali: Indonesia's Hindu Realm; A short history of. Short History of Asia Series. Allen & Unwin. pp. 28–40. ISBN 1-86508-863-3. 
  14. ^ Rita A. Widiadana, "Get in touch with Bali's cultural heritage," The Jakarta Post (06/06/2002).
  15. ^ Topographia Hibernica, III.XI; tr. O'Meary, p. 94.
  16. ^ Krentzer, Bill (December 1969). "The Beethoven Symphonies: Innovations of an Original Style in Timpani Scoring". Percussionist (Percussive Arts Society) 7 (2): 55–62. 
  17. ^ Bowles, Edmund A. (1999). "The Impact of Technology on Musical Instruments". COSMOS Journal (Cosmos Club). http://www.cosmos-club.org/web/journals/1999/bowles.html. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  18. ^ Beating Retreat page, showing image of mounted bands with timpani in 2008.

Further reading

  • Adler, Samuel. The Study of Orchestration. W. W. Norton & Company, 3rd edition, 2002. ISBN 0-393-97572-X
  • Del Mar, Norman. Anatomy of the Orchestra. University of California Press, 1984. ISBN 0-520-05062-2
  • Ferrell, Robert G. "Percussion in Medieval and Renaissance Dance Music: Theory and Performance". 1997. Retrieved February 22, 2006.
  • Montagu, Jeremy. Timpani & Percussion. Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-300-09337-3
  • Peters, Mitchell. Fundamental Method for Timpani. Alfred Publishing Co., 1993. ISBN 0-7390-2051-X
  • Solomon, Samuel Z. How to Write for Percussion. Published by the author, 2002. ISBN 0-9744721-0-7
  • Thomas, Dwight. Timpani: Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved February 4, 2005.
  • Zoutendijk, Marc. Letters to Flamurai. February 8, 2005.
  • "Credits: Beatles for Sale". Allmusic. Retrieved February 18, 2005.
  • "Credits: A Love Supreme". Allmusic. Retrieved February 18, 2005.
  • "Credits: Tubular Bells". Allmusic. Retrieved February 18, 2005.
  • "Kettledrum". 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica as retrieved from [1] on February 26, 2006.
  • "William Kraft Biography". Composer John Beal. Retrieved May 21, 2006.
  • "Timpanist - Musician or Technician?". Cloyd E. Duff, Principal Timpani - retired - Cleveland Orchestra.
  • "Timpani" Grove, George (January 2001). Stanley Sadie. ed. The New Grove Encyclopædia of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). Grove's Dictionaries of Music. Volume 18, pp826–837. ISBN 1561592390. 

External links

This audio file was created from a revision dated 2008-06-12, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)
More spoken articles


Simple English

Timpani
Kettle drum
File:Standard timpani
Classification
Percussion
Playing range
Related instruments
  • Naqareh

Timpani (sometimes they are called kettle drums) are drums that are made out of large bowls that are usually made of copper shaped by craftsmen, which after being tuned, have a skin-like material stretched over the top. This material used to be a type of vellum or treated skin, but modern drums use a synthetic material. This top section is known as the "drumhead". Timpani is an Italian word. It is also a plural of the word timpano. However timpano is rarely used in informal English. More often, a timpano is referred to as a drum, a timpani, or simply a timp. Someone who plays a timpani is called a "timpanist".

Timpani are different from other drums because they are tuned to certain musical notes. A tympanist will often describe the drum as being "in voice" (or out of voice, as the case may be) when it is correctly tuned. To play it, it is hit with a special drumstick or "timpani mallet". Other drums that are used in orchestras and bands make a sound rather than a note, and are not tuned. A player normally sits with a group of two, three or four timpani around him, which is why the name timpani is in the plural.

Timpani were originally used in official bands. They can still be seen in the bands of the modern official as in the Household Cavalry of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, in which the "kettle drums" (as they are called) are carried by large piebald drumhorses.(See picture below) In the 1700s timpani became popular in orchestral music, and can be heard in the music of Handel. Beethoven and other 19th century composers wrote music that needed the timpani. Nowadays all large orchestras have timpani, and some bands that play popular music use them as well.

Contents

Different ways timpani can be made

[[File:|thumb|A basic timpano timpani.]]

The drumhead

A timpani drumhead, also called a timpani head, can be made out of two different things. Some are made out of animal skin, like calfskin or goatskin. Other ones can be made out of thick plastic. Because plastic heads are hard to break and do not cost as much as animal skin heads, they are used more often than animal skin heads. However, a lot of professional players prefer skin heads because they think that skin heads make a better sound when they are hit. The drumhead is stretched over the bowl of the timpani and held on by screws for tuning the timpani.

File:Chain
A chain timpani.

Tuning the timpani

The screws that hold and tune the drumhead are called "tension rods". To tune the timpani, the "tension rods" can all be tightened or loosened. The timpani makes a higher sound if the tension rods are made tighter, and a lower sound if they are loosened. There are usually around seven tension rods on the timpani.[1]

Machine timpani

Tuning a timpani by turning every tension rod by itself can be very hard, so some timpani makers invented different ways to change the drum's pitch more quickly.[2]

Chain timpani

In a chain timpani, the tension rods are all attached to a chain. This chain is hooked up to a lever, and when a player moves the lever back and forth, it tightens and loosens all the screws at the same time to change the pitch of the drum.[1]

File:Dresden
A pedal on a pedal timpani with a ratchet clutch system.
Pedal timpani

A pedal timpani is a timpani that uses a pedal to change its pitch. It is the kind of timpani that is used the most today. A player can push on the pedal to make the timpani play higher notes, or let the pedal come back up to play lower notes.[1] There are three different kinds of pedal timpani:

  • In a ratchet clutch system a player must pull back a lever called a clutch to release the pedal. Once the pedal is in the spot where the player wants it, they must push the clutch forward with their foot again to lock it in place.
  • A balanced action system uses a spring that is attached to the pedal, which keeps the pedal in one spot until it is moved by a player. Since the pedal is not held in one spot by a clutch in a balanced action system, some people call it a floating pedal because it looks like the pedal is not held on by anything and is floating.
  • In a friction clutch system, the pedal is held in one spot by a clutch, and the clutch is attached to a pole. When a player releases the clutch, the pole moves up and down as the pedal is pushed up and down.

Timpani mallets

File:Timpani
A set of timpani mallets.

Timpani are played with a special kind of drumstick called timpani mallets. A player uses two mallets at a time when they play the drum. The two parts of the mallet are called the shaft and the head. The head is the part of the mallet that is shaped like a circle, and is the part that hits the timpani, and the shaft is the wooden part of the mallet that is held by a timpanist. A timpani mallet's head can be made out of many things, but is usually made out of a wood sphere that is covered with felt or a thin cloth. The shaft of the mallet is usually made out of wood, like hickory, cherry, or bamboo, but can also be made out of a metal, like graphite or aluminum. Some timpani mallets do not have a felt head, and just have a wooden one. These mallets are sometimes used in classical and baroque music.[3] i hope you now know about the timpani

In the beginning of the 20th century, some mallets had shafts made out of whale bones and heads made out of sponges.[4]

Other pages

References

Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found

Other websites

  • Timpani FAQ by Dwight Thomas, Lead Timpanist, Omaha Symphony
  • Video of Stuart Marrs, chairman of the University of Maine music department, performing the March from Eight Pieces for Four Timpani








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message