What is a Timpano
A Timpanist is a person who plays a kind of kettle drum or timpani in an orchestra. Timpani are different from other drums because they are tuned to certain musical notes. A pair pf timpani are normally an octave from F below middle C downward. With three the kettles are tuned c-g, G-d, and E b-B-b, (g=below middle C, Eb =the second E below middle C). The instrument has a skin stretched over a large bowl-and sometimes other percussion instruments as well. To be good the timpanist must be well trained in percussion (1).
What are Timpani
Alyssa Porambo has provided a list of ten things to know about timpani (2).
- There are actually two different ways to set up the timpani: the American way and the German way. The German setup makes way more sense if the player is right handed – the largest drum is placed on the right, so that the timpanist can easily access the pedals and tuning gauges.
- Each drum in a set of timpani has a different pitch, which is surprising, since most people think drums have only one pitch, which sounds like: BOOM.
- Each timpano (singular), timpani (plural), has a pedal that controls which pitch the drum is on.Among these pedals is the mechanism called the “ratchet clutch system.” Imagine trying to put THT into first gear!
- Typically, timpanists will use real animal skin for the drum heads, like calf or goat.Weather doesn’t permit us to use these here in Baltimore – darn humidity!
- Timpanists actually make their own sticks!
- It can take up to one to two years to build a complete set of timpani and they probably cost more than your car.
- A single timpano drum (pedals and all) can weigh as much as 140 pounds. That’s like one and a half Taylor Swifts!
- In the old days before timpani had pedals, they were controlled by a chain and a crank.
- Ever wonder what the timpanist does when he puts his face on the drum?They are often hovering over their instrument, checking to see if it is in tune.
- Before timpani were used as an orchestral instrument, they were played on horseback during the Civil War (2).
- Timpani musical instrument. http://www.britannica.com/art/timpani.
- Porambo, Alyssa. Ten Things You Need to Know About the Timpani. https://www.bsomusic.org/stories/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-timpani.aspx.