Classical Music/Timpani

newoldie

Silver Member
Anyone here played in or currently playing in a classical music group (symphonic band, orchestra, etc.)?

I found this Handel "Music for the Royal Fireworks" on YouTube and fell in love watching and hearing the timpani parts:
https://youtu.be/f_ie3pBXXc0?t=1m57s

Anyone previously played timps; are they ever played in contemporary band music at all these days?
 

vxla

Silver Member
Contemporary band music…like concert band or wind ensemble? Certainly timpani are used.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
Contemporary non classical bands, like most of us play in, excluding concert, symphonic bands, orchestras, wind ensembles, etc.
I can't recall any modern drummer using timpani but those super huge bass drums AC DC used are the closest I've seen.
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
I've played timps professionally on and off for about 25yrs now. The beauty of those Handel parts is their simplicity (in relative terms) but still achieving the desored effect.

I often think that some modern composer's music has timp parts that are far too complex, more because they can rather than because they should!
 

pgm554

Platinum Member
Anyone here played in or currently playing in a classical music group (symphonic band, orchestra, etc.)?

I found this Handel "Music for the Royal Fireworks" on YouTube and fell in love watching and hearing the timpani parts:
https://youtu.be/f_ie3pBXXc0?t=1m57s

Anyone previously played timps; are they ever played in contemporary band music at all these days?
Most drum and bugle corps use tympani in their percussion pits.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdVhEsBt1-k
 

vindrums

Senior Member
I first fell in love with Timpani during a college orchestra rehearsal. I was a freshman at the time and was relegated to the auxiliary percussion section (freshman were not allowed to play Timps in the group). One afternoon, the usual Timpanist was not able to make the rehearsal so I was asked to fill in. I had never actually played Timpani with a real orchestra before. I had spent countless hours in rehearsal rooms playing to recordings, but never with a real group of musicians.

My first entrance was a soft, slow roll. I remember this moment vividly because it truly changed my musical life forever. I remember, for the very first time actually hearing how my note fit within the context of the chord the group was playing. I was contributing to the actual harmonic structure of the music!! This was such a moment of epiphany for me. I wasn't simply a rhythmic entity!! I was now a full melodic contributor to the music!! MIND BLOWN!!

The concept of percussion in an orchestral setting is one of ornamentation. However, the timpanist is in the drivers seat, propelling the orchestra both rhythmically, harmonically, and melodically. It is truly an amazing feeling!!

Although I do not play as much timpani in my professional life as I did in college (musical theater timpani parts aren't exactly Beethoven symphonies) I still get excited when I get the chance.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
I first fell in love with Timpani during a college orchestra rehearsal. I was a freshman at the time and was relegated to the auxiliary percussion section (freshman were not allowed to play Timps in the group). One afternoon, the usual Timpanist was not able to make the rehearsal so I was asked to fill in. I had never actually played Timpani with a real orchestra before. I had spent countless hours in rehearsal rooms playing to recordings, but never with a real group of musicians.

My first entrance was a soft, slow roll. I remember this moment vividly because it truly changed my musical life forever. I remember, for the very first time actually hearing how my note fit within the context of the chord the group was playing. I was contributing to the actual harmonic structure of the music!! This was such a moment of epiphany for me. I wasn't simply a rhythmic entity!! I was now a full melodic contributor to the music!! MIND BLOWN!!

The concept of percussion in an orchestral setting is one of ornamentation. However, the timpanist is in the drivers seat, propelling the orchestra both rhythmically, harmonically, and melodically. It is truly an amazing feeling!!

Although I do not play as much timpani in my professional life as I did in college (musical theater timpani parts aren't exactly Beethoven symphonies) I still get excited when I get the chance.
I think your experience is the excitement I sensed when watching the Handel video, to participate in all 3 ways you've so eloquently described. Especially melodically and harmonically. I only played snare, bass drum or traps in junior and high school bands.

When you get the chance, is it in a local symphonic band or orchestra?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
In high school I was the band nerd and played tympani in stage band and orchestra. Loved the sound.
 

vindrums

Senior Member
I think your experience is the excitement I sensed when watching the Handel video, to participate in all 3 ways you've so eloquently described. Especially melodically and harmonically. I only played snare, bass drum or traps in junior and high school bands.

When you get the chance, is it in a local symphonic band or orchestra?
For a few years after college I freelanced professionally as an orchestral player. I worked with every kind of group that would pay me...lol Lots of local orchestras, touring ensembles and church choir gigs. Now I do mostly musical theater work and predominantly play the drum set book. However, when the opportunity presents itself I will occasionally play the percussion book and it never fails to reinvigorate my love for the timpani.
 

60's Drummer

Senior Member
Still have my timp stored - haven't used 'em *quite* a while, but back in the 80's when i was free lancing i did a lot of orchestral/opera/pit work.

Every year a local Catholic church would hire timp for the midnight Christmas mass. I would ad lib a little tonic/dominant using the hymnal, but all the music director really wanted was the "big Hollywood" forte-piano roll with a huge crescendo into a big organ piece/sing along right at midnight.

Reminds me of another Catholic church - obviously of an Irish heritage - that had a dozen or more bag pipers w/a couple of drummers that would march in from the back around to the front and serenade the congregation. O Danny Boy would bring tears to their eyes ...

Modern composers would have you put a big ride cymbal upside down on the center of the large timp and roll on the cymbal while moving the pedal up and down - sounded like a whale song - sometimes we'd use a cello bow on the edge of the cym ... timpani can be quite expressive.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
As others have noted the various usages I won't go back over that but I too played some timpani in school orchestra. It is an empowering instrument. If you have the need and the ability I say use it however your imagination can conceive.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Studied it in college in Boston back in the early 80's. Fondest memories of watching Vic Firth play.
A Master Timpanist, the tone he pulled out of those drums was just beautiful and he could influence the entire orchestra's playing approach with his dynamics.
The only person I've seen use timps in a "modern" rock setting was Carl Palmer and it was during his flashy solos.
Oh, here's a favorite to play... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOSaT6U4e-8
 

newoldie

Silver Member
JB: I forgot VF played timpani!

Do you have any other suggestions for videos (classical symphony) that feature and show a major timpani part? A lot of these classical videos barely show the timpanist!
 

Stroker

Platinum Member
Anyone here played in or currently playing in a classical music group (symphonic band, orchestra, etc.)?

I found this Handel "Music for the Royal Fireworks" on YouTube and fell in love watching and hearing the timpani parts:
https://youtu.be/f_ie3pBXXc0?t=1m57s

Anyone previously played timps; are they ever played in contemporary band music at all these days?
Music is par excellence. I dabbled in timpani in junior-high and enjoyed the experience, but never pursued it seriously. If I were performing a cover for Hawaii Five-0 (1970's theme version), timpani would be the driving force behind the selection.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Not really, too expensive and difficult to move around, except for institutional organizations. I think some of the big djembes that Remo puts out are more reminiscent of timpani than djembe. 18" goblet shaped drum.
 

lildrumr

Member
When in high school + one year after that I studied percussion with the principal timpanist at the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra at the time, the great Mr. Andrew Simco. I had the great pleasure of seeing him again last week after 25 years - he's an American living i the US, and I'm Norwegian. He made an impact on my playing, and he really taught me about resonence and timbre. This is critical when playing timpany, and I've brought that along with me into regular drums and cymbals, drumkit and all other percussion instrumens, played with hand, sticks or mallets. When playing timps you have to get the mallet off of the head imideately not to restrict the sound. He taught me how to "pull" the sound out of the drum (/timp), in stead of hitting/striking down into it. I stood countless hours practicing to strike "upwords". That microsecond too long when the mallet is in contact with the head makes a difference in the purity of the tone.
The timpany is such a powerful instrument! It's difficult to controll, it's so big and resonant that it easily takes controll over you instead of you having controll over the instrument. It truly makes you focus on touch, technique and paying attention to every stroke you make.
I would encourage every drummer to play timpany, it's great in every way. (But sorta impractical when schlepping it around for your weekend gig).
 
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