Timpani

From TEK Percussion Database
Jump to: navigation, search
Timpani
Timpani
Range of Timpani
TimpaniRange
Timpani
Range of Timpani

Timpani is the more common plural form of the Italian name for kettledrums. They are a type of drum consisting of a membrane stretched over a vessel-shaped bowl or body made primarily from metal. The bowl acts to resonate vibrations created by striking the head resulting in a definite pitch.

Etymology and Alternative Spellings

Fr: timbale(s); Ger: pauken; It: timpano(i); Sp: timbals, atabul


Construction

The bowl of the timpani is usually made from copper alloy although some models come in fiberglass. This bowl acts as a resonator for the vibrations of the enclosed air created by striking the head. The heads, plastic or calfskin, are stretch across the top of the bowl and mounted on a hoop that is then secured down by a metal ring called the counterhoop. A number of threaded screws pass through the counterhoop and attach to the bowl and allow for variations in the skin's tension.

Basic Timpani

Machine Timpani

The first major steps that paved the way for machine timpani were taken by Gerhard Cramer in 1812. Cramer, the Royal Court Timpanist in the Munich court orchestra, invented the first rapid tuning device by taking advantage of the mechanical technology flourishing in the latter half of the Industrial Revolution. Tuning was accomplished by moving a vertical lever that moved on a horizontal axle. This in turn rotated a crown gear which would lower and raise a central screw. The central screw was attached to armatures and a hoop in which the drum skin was lapped.[1] Musician and inventor Johann Stumpff introduced a rotating type of machine drum around 1815 (patented in 1821). This system consisted of a large central screw that entered the timpani from the bottom through a nut and attached to an internal armature structure. The entire bowl could be raised or lowered on this central screw which would alter the pressure on the hoop and tension of the skin much like roto-tom drums. The performer would have to stop playing, place their sticks down, and use both hands to rotate the drum - proving a major disadvantage for this particular machine drum. Despite this, the drums were cheap to manufacture, lightweight, and thus proved much easier to transport. [2] From this point forward, inventors and performers, sought to create tuning systems that featured free floating bowls(free of internal armatures and mechanisms for full, round sound)and simple, efficient tuning mechanisms (such as single hand screws or pedal systems).

Pedal Timpani

Pedal operated tuning systems marked the final step in the evolution process of machine timpani. The advent of the pedal system was brought about in 1881 with the patent of the Dresden model by Carl Pittrich. Initially Pittrich, Kapelldiener in the Royal Saxonian Orchestra, developed the pedal system to be a separate mechanism to be attached to existing models only to be later sold as a complete drum by Paul Focke in Dresden. Not only did Pittrich's invention utilize a foot pedal, he further differentiated himself from other inventors by incorporating a ratchet and mechanical couplings to effect rapid tuning. The initial semi-circular motion of the pedal was converted into the reciprocating motion of the base plate to which the struts connecting the counterhoop were attached.[3] In order to engage the pedal, the performer's heel would press outward against a spring in order to disengage the saw-toothed clutch. This action would allow the pedal to move freely and tune the drum. The performer's heel would release the spring in order to lock the pedal into place. Despite the relative ease of operation, the pedal required a great amount of pressure which required players to fasten their chairs to the floor to keep from sliding back while working the pedals. This was later remedied in later models with counterweights. The Dresden model featured a tuning gauge (including a pointer and adjustable markers) controlled by the pedal and a single master screw that was used for any necessary fine-tuning due to humidity and wear from heavy beating. [4]

Chain Timpani

History

see also Timpani History

Sticks, Mallets, Beaters

Early drumsticks were made of wood and occasionally ivory. The sticks consisted of short shafts, small heads, and produced a loud, dry sound which was ideal for the ceremonial music of mounted kettledrummers. For more subtle situations, such as funeral processions, players would wrap the heads of the mallets with woolen cloth, chamois, or leather. [5]

In order to meet the demands of modern composers timpanists have equipped themselves with a large variety of sticks. The shafts generally consist of hickory or other similar straight-grained wood. The shafts can vary in length from 13 to 14 1/2 inches and can vary thickness from 3/8 to 1/2 inch (but differ according to tapered and non-tapered shafts).[6]

There are typically three main categories of timpani sticks - Hard, Wooden, and Soft.

'Hard' sticks consist of a small ball of wood or hard felt.
Vic Firth T4 Ultra Staccato
Regal Tip Saul Goodman #1 Hard
Regal Tip Saul Goodman #5 Ultra Staccato
Regal Tip Saul Goodman #7 Brilliant Staccato
ProMark Johnathan Haas JH2 Red Staccato
ProMark Johnathan Haas JH1 Green Staccato
Innovative BT7 Ultra Staccato Bamboo

'Wooden' sticks consist of either a small ball of wood fixed to a shaft or a whole stick fashioned out of one piece of wood.
Vic Firth T5 Woods
Regal Tip Timpani #4 Wood Ball
Innovative BT8 Bamboo Wood


'Soft' sticks consist of a hard felt, cork, or wood core wrapped in varying layers of felt (commonly piano felt).
Vic Firth T1 General
Vic Firth T2 Cartwheel
Vic Firth T3 Staccato
Vic Firth T6 Custom General
Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #2 Staccato
Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #3 General
Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #6 Cartwheel
Cloyd Duff Bamboo #1

Aluminum, Wood, Bamboo Shafts


Orchestral Sticks vs. Solo Performance Sticks


Saul Goodman Mallets

Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #1 Hard
Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #2 Staccato
Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #3 General
Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #4 Wood Ball
Regal Tip Saul Goodman #5 Ultra Staccato
Regal Tip Saul Goodman Timpani #6 Cartwheel
Regal Tip Saul Goodman #7 Brilliant Staccato

Kraft Mallets


Performance Technique

Grips

American Grip

French Grip

German Grip

Stroke Style/Type

The basic stroke is called a Legato Stroke

Tuning

Muffling

Extended Technique

Manufacturers

Adams
Hardtke
Ludwig
Majestic
Premier
Walter Lights
Yamaha

Older Brands

Slingerland
Leedy

Head Replacement

Basics I

Spring Tension Style

Dresden Style

Goodman Chain Style

Retailers

Steve Weiss Music
Percussion Source
Lone Star Percussion

See Also

References

  1. Edmund A., Bowles,ed. John H., Beck. Encyclopedia of Percussion. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995.
  2. Edmund A., Bowles,ed. John H., Beck. Encyclopedia of Percussion. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995.
  3. Edmund A., Bowles,ed. John H., Beck. Encyclopedia of Percussion. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995.
  4. Edmund A., Bowles,ed. John H., Beck. Encyclopedia of Percussion. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995.
  5. Edmund A., Bowles,ed. John H., Beck. Encyclopedia of Percussion. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995.
  6. Blades, James. Percussion Instruments and Their History. Wesport: The Bold Strummer, Ltd., 2005.