The timpani, or kettledrum, is the orchestral percussion instrument with the longest tradition. It has been established as a staple of the symphony orchestra since the 17th century. Whereas in the Baroque and Classical period one pair of timpani was the standard, four (or even more) instruments in Romantic and modern works are common. The timpani is one of the rare membranophones with a definite pitch and its tuning requires extremely sensitive hearing. The intensity of performance tasks makes it essential that the timpani part in the orchestra is played by a specialist, the “timpanist”. As opposed to other percussionists who usually change instruments as required by the piece (e.g., bass drum, a-due cymbals, tambourine, triangle) the timpanist focuses on playing the timpani part exclusively.
The instrument has a range of about a sixth, a timpani group of several instruments covers approximately two octaves. The sound of the timpani blends homogeneously with other instrument groups of the orchestra. Timpani with majestic brass fanfares have their roots in history, and the combination of strings played in tremolo over a foundation of timpani rolls is a popular combination for creating dramatic and thrilling effects. We’ve recorded single strokes, tremolos (with and without dynamics), and glissandos with various wooden and felt mallets (hard – medium hard – medium) as well as with finger strokes.