sábado, 30 de marzo de 2013

Drums 1

Percussion instrument

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement, shaken, rubbed, scraped, or by any other action which sets the object into vibration. The term usually applies to an object used in a rhythmic context or with musical intent.
The word "percussion" has evolved from Latin terms: "percussio" (which translates as "to beat, strike" in the musical sense, rather than the violent action), and "percussus" (which is a noun meaning "a beating"). As a noun in contemporary English it is described in Wiktionary as "the collision of two bodies to produce a sound". The usage of the term is not unique to music but has application in medicine and weaponry, as in percussion cap, but all known and common uses of the word, "percussion", appear to share a similar lineage beginning with the original Latin: "percussus". In a musical context then, the term "percussion instruments" may have been coined originally to describe a family of instruments including drums, rattles, metal plates, or wooden blocks which musicians would beat or strike (as in a collision) to produce sound.


Percussive surface in a resonant chamber. A cave painting of human hands surrounded by red markings - early percussion instrument.
Anthropologists and historians often speculate that percussion instruments were the first musical devices ever created. The human voice was probably the first musical instrument, but percussion instruments such as hands and feet, then sticks, rocks, and logs were almost certainly the next steps in the evolution of music.
Many caves in France, near Caberets and Grotte du Pech Merle, are believed to have been inhabited by early human communities. In those caves, anthropologists have observed red dots which appear in most places where other carvings/paintings appear. It is believed that the dots/markings were formed by people who would tap or hammer those parts of the rock which have obvious acoustic significance; tapping those particular places causes tones which resonate throughout the cavern (like the echo of voices in a giant cathedral or drums in a large hall).[1] This may be proof that humans were aware of the acoustic properties of percussion instruments and resonating chambers as early as 25,000 years ago; though much speculation suggests that humans likely used percussion instruments long before that.
As humans developed tools for hunting and eventually agriculture, their skill and technology enabled them to craft more complex instruments. For example, a simple log may have been carved to produce louder tones (a log drum) and instruments may have been combined to produce multiple tones (as in a 'set' of log drums).


Percussion instruments are classified by various criteria sometimes depending on their construction, ethnic origin, function within musical theory and orchestration, or their relative prevalence in common knowledge.
Percussion instruments are sometimes classified as "pitched" or "unpitched." While valid, this classification is widely seen as inadequate. Rather, it may be more informative to describe percussion instruments in regards to one or more of the following four paradigms:

[edit]By methods of sound production

Many texts, including Teaching Percussion by Gary Cook of the University of Arizona, begin by studying the physical characteristics of instruments and the methods by which they produce sound. This is perhaps the most scientifically pleasing assignment of nomenclature whereas the other paradigms are more dependent on historical or social circumstances. Based on observation and experimentation, one can determine how an instrument produces sound and then assign the instrument to one of the following four categories:


"Idiophones produce sounds through the vibration of their entire body."[2] Examples of idiophones:


Snares on a drum

Snare Strainer
The drum can be played by striking it with a drumstick or any other form of beater, including brushes and rutes, which produce a softer-sounding vibration from the wires. When using a stick, the drummer may strike either the head of the drum, the rim, or the shell. When the top head is struck the snares vibrate against the bottom head producing a cracking sound. The snares can often be thrown off with a lever on the strainer so that the drum only produces a sound reminiscent of a tom-tom.[2] Rim shots are a technique associated with snare drums in which the head and rim are struck simultaneously with one stick (or in concert playing, a stick placed on the head and rim struck by the opposite stick), and rudiments are sets of basic patterns often played on a snare drum. [3]. In contemporary Pop and Rock music, where the snare drum is used as a component of a drum set, most of the backbeats and accented notes on the snare drum are played as Rim shots, due to the ever increasing demand for the typical sharp and high volume sound. The so called "ghost notes" are very light "filler notes" played in between the backbeats in genres like Funk and Rhythm and Blues. The famous drum roll is produced by alternatively pressing the sticks on the drum head striving for a controlled rebound. A similar effect can be obtained by playing alternated double strokes on the drum, or very fast single strokes. The snares are a fundamental ingredient to the drum roll as they help blend together distinct strokes that are therefore perceived as a single sustained sound.
Snare drums may be made from various wood, metal, or acrylic materials. A typical diameter for snare drums is 14 inches. Marching snare drums are deeper in size than snare drums normally used for orchestral or drum kit purposes, often measuring in at a foot long. Orchestral anddrum set snare drum shells are about 6 inches deep. Piccolo snare drums are even more shallow at about 3 inches deep. Soprano, popcorn, and firecracker snare drums have diameters as small as 8 inches and are often used for higher-pitched special effects.[2]

[edit]Wood shell construction

Most snare drums are constructed in plies that are heat- and compression-moulded into a cylinder. Steam-bent shells consist of one ply of wood that is gradually rounded into a cylinder and glued at one seam. Reinforcement hoops are generally needed on the inside surface of the drum to keep it perfectly round. Segment shells are made of multiple stacks of segmented wood rings. The segments are glued together and rounded out by a lathe. Similarly, stave shells are constructed of vertically glued pieces of wood into a cylinder (much like a barrel) that is also rounded out by a lathe. Solid shells are constructed of one solid piece of hollowed wood and they have small snares underneath.


A Blue Marching Snare Drum.
The snare drum seems to have descended from a medieval drum called the Tabor, which was a drum with a single gut snare strung across the bottom. It is a bit bigger than a medium tom and was first used in war, often played with a fife or pipe; the player would play both the fife and drum (see also Pipe and Tabor). [4] [5] Tabors were not always double headed [6] and not all may have had snares. By the 15th century, the size of the snare drum increased and had a cylindrical shape. This simple drum with a simple snare became popular with the Swiss mercenary troops who used the fife and drum around the 1400-1500's, due to influence from the Ottoman Turk's use of the drum in their armies. The drum was made deeper and carried along the side. Further developments appeared in the 1600's, with the use of screws to hold down the snares, giving a brighter sound than the rattle of a loose snare. During the 18th century, the snare drum underwent changes that would improve its characteristic sound. Metal snares appeared in the 1900's. In 2006 a patent was filed for the first snare drum shell made from 100% crystal and in 2009 the subsequent patent was filed for the HMS mounting system needed to hold the crystal. This innovation is designed to keep the resonance at its maximum. Both patents were filed by the Nolan Page Drum Co. Today the snare drum is used in pop music and modern orchestral music.[7]
Much of the development of the snare drum and the drum rudiments is closely tied with the use of the snare drum in the military. In his book, The Art of Snare drummingSanford A. Moeller (of the "Moeller Method" of drumming) states that "To acquire a knowledge of the true nature of the [snare] drum, it is absolutely necessary to study military drumming, for it is essentially a military instrument and its true character cannot be brought out with an incorrect method. When a composer wants a martial effect, he instinctively turns to the drums."
Before the advent of radio and electronic communications, the snare drum was often used to communicate orders to the soldiers. American troops were woken up by drum and fife, playing about 5 minutes of music, including the well known Three Camps [8]. Troops were also called for meals by certain drum pieces such as "Peas on a Trencher", or "Roast Beef". A piece called the "Tattoo" was used to signal that all soldiers should be in their tent, and "The Fatigue" was used to police the quarters or drum unruly women out of the camp[9].
Many of these military pieces required a thorough grounding in rudiment drumming; indeed Moeller states that: "They [the rudimental drummers] were the only ones who could do it [play the military camp duty pieces]." [10] Moeller furthermore states that "No matter how well a drummer can read, if he does not know the rudimental system of drumming, it is impossible for him to play the THE THREE CAMPS, BREAKFAST CALL, or in fact any of the Duty except the simple beats such as THE TROOP." [11]
Heads originally were of calf skin. The invention of the plastic (mylar) drum head is credited to Marion "Chick" Evans[12] who (apparently) made the first plastic drum head in 1956.
The development of drum rudiments seem to have developed with the snare drum; the Swiss fife and drum groups are sometimes credited with their invention [13]. The first written rudiment was in Basel, Switzerland in 1610[14]. Rudiments with familiar names are listed in Charles Ashworth's book in 1812 such as the (single) paradiddle, flam, drag, ratamacue, the roll (a double stroke roll, also called the "ma-ma da-da" roll), among others.


  • Military drum: a snare drum, 15 inches in diameter, 9 to 12 inches deep, with a metal shell and the two heads stretched by tensioning screws. It has a snare release lever to activate (deactivate) a minimum of 8 metal, gut, or plastic snares. The term came into use in 1837 with the invention of the tensioning-screw mechanism. It is frequently placed on a stand.[15]
  • Side drum: Uncommon British term for a snare drum.[16]

Tom-tom drum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The drum kit
Drum set.svg
Ride cymbal | 2 Floor tom | 3 Toms
Bass drum | 5 Snare drum | 6 Hi-hat
Other components

Possible drum legend for (six) toms.About this sound play 
tom-tom drum (not to be confused with a tam-tam) is a cylindrical drum with no snare.
Although the name, "tom-tom" comes from the British term for a child's toy drum, the tom-tom itself comes from Native American or Asian cultures. The tom-tom drum is also a traditional means of communication. The tom-tom drum was added to the drum kit in the early part of the 20th century.

Design history

The first drum kit tom-toms had no rims; the heads were tacked to the shell.
As major drum manufacturers began to offer tunable tom-toms with hoops and tuning lugs, a 12" drum 8" deep became standard, mounted on the left side of the bass drum. Later a 16" drum 16" deep mounted on three legs (a floor tom) was added. Finally, a second drum was mounted on the right of the bass drum, a 13" diameter drum 9" deep. Together with a 14" snare drum and a bass drum of varying size, these three made up the standard kit of five drums for most of the second half of the 20th century.
Later, the mounted tom-toms, known as hanging toms or rack toms, were deepened by one inch each, these sizes being called power toms. Extra-deep hanging toms, known as cannon depth, never achieved popularity. All these were double-headed.

8x12 rack tom mounted to a stand

[edit]Modern tom toms

Tom-toms mounted on a bass drum
A wide variety of configurations are commonly available and in use at all levels from advanced student kits upwards. Most toms range in size between 6" and 20", though floor toms can go as large as 24". Two "power" depth tom-toms of 12x10 (12" diameter by 10" depth) and 13x11 is a common hanging tom configuration. Also popular is the "fusion" configuration of 10x8 and either 12x8 or 12x9, and the again popular "classic" configuration of 12x8 and 13x9, which is still used by some jazz drummers. A third hanging tom is often used instead of a floor tom.

[edit]Single-headed tom-toms

Single-headed tom-toms (also known as concert toms) have also been used in drum kits, though their use has fallen off in popularity since the 1970s. Concert toms have a single head and a shell slightly shallower than the corresponding double-headed tom. Phil Collins still uses 4 singled headed rack mount toms and 2 floor toms (Gretsch) in his setup. He claims he tunes his toms to "bark" like a seal.


Rototoms have no shell at all, just a single head and a steel frame. Unlike most other drums, they have a variable definite pitch and some composers write for them as a tuned instrument, demanding specific notes. They can be tuned quickly by rotating the head. Since the head rotates on a thread, this raises or lowers the head relative to the rim of the drum and so increases or decreases the tension in the head.

[edit]Gong bass drum

gong bass drum (also known as "gong drum"), is a large, single-headed tom often sized at 20" or 22", with the drumhead being 2 inches larger than the shell. The sound produced is similar to a bass drum, though it is more open and has longer sustain. They can be mounted with standard floor tom legs, though many drummers mount them at an angle next to the floor tom(s). Notable users include Neil PeartStewart CopelandBill BrufordSimon PhillipsJason Bittner, and Mike Portnoy.

[edit]Construction and manufacture

Typically a tom consists of a shell, chromed or plated metal hardware and head.
Shell depth standards vary according to the era of manufacture and the drum style. Diameters usually range from 6 to 20 inches, with heads to fit.
Tom-Toms can be fitted with an adjustable mounting for a floor stand, or attachment to a bass drum or marching rig. They can be single or double-headed.


A crucial factor in achieving superior tone quality and ensuring durability, especially with wood, is the creation of perfectly round shells and much research and development effort has been put into this manufacturing technology.
Shells are often constructed of 6–8 wood plies (often using different woods e.g. mahogany and falkata — birch or maple are commonly used for single-wood plies), solid wood (turned) or man-made materials (e.g. fiberglass, pressed steel, acrylic glass, resin-composite). Wood or composite shells can be finished by laminating in plastic in a large variety of colors and effects (e.g. sparkle or polychromatic); natural wood may be stained or left natural and painted with clear lacquer. Steel is usually chromed, fiberglass self-colored and acrylic glass tinted or clear.
Audio samples
ComponentContentAudio (Ogg Vorbis)
Toms8-inch rack tomAbout this sound 59 KB 
12-inch rack tomAbout this sound 41 KB 
Floor tomAbout this sound 39 KB 
See the Drums page at Wikipedia Commons for more


One or two cast or pressed metal rims attach by threaded tension rods or lugs to nut boxes bolted onto the shell holds the heads onto the bearing edges of the shell. The tension rod assembly needs to be precision machined, cast and fitted to enable predictable and secure tuning without inhibiting resonance or introducing extra vibration. All components will be placed under great tension and experience added stresses from playing.

A shell-mounted clamp attached to ball-head floor stand.
Mounting systems vary greatly, from a simple cast block on the shell which accepts and clamps to a rod attached to a clamp or holder to much more sophisticated arrangements where there is no attachment to the shell, instead a frame clamps to the tuning lugs.
Another sort of rod clamp system allows attachment of the drum to the tom holder without the need of a hole in the drum shell for the rod to pass through. The clamp is attached to the shell at the nodal point with two bolts so as to allow the shell to vibrate freely without degrading the shell's dynamic range and sustain. The nodal point is the location on a shell with the least amount of vibration allowing for the mount to have minimal effect on the resonance of the shell.
Some drummers use a snare stand to hold a tom, thus making it easier to position the tom.

Bass drum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The drum kit
Drum set.svg
Ride cymbal | 2 Floor tom | 3 Toms
Bass drum | 5 Snare drum | 6 Hi-hat
Other components

"Four to the floor", steady beat maintained by bass drum[1] About this sound play within typical rock beat 
bass drum (sometimes referred to as the kick drum) is a relatively large drum that produces a note of low definite or indefinitepitch. The bass drums are of variable sizes and are used in several musical genres (see usage below). Three major types of bass drums can be distinguished: the large orchestral bass drum, the smaller 'kick' drum, and the pitched bass drums. The type usually seen or heard in orchestral, ensemble or concert band music is the orchestral, or concert bass drum (in Italian: gran cassa, gran tamburo). It is the largest drum of the orchestra. The 'kick' drum, struck with a beater attached to a pedal, is usually seen ondrum kits. The third type, the pitched bass drum, is generally used in marching bands and drum corps. This particular type of drum is tuned to a specific pitch and is usually played in a set of three to five drums. The bass drum was imported from the Middle East. It is a direct descendent of the davul.[2]


In popular music, the bass drum is used to mark or keep time. In marches it is used to project tempo (marching bands historically march to the beat of the bass). A basic beat for rock and roll has the bass drum played on the first and third beats of a bars of common time, with the snare drum on the second and fourth beats, called "back beats". In jazz, the bass drum can vary from almost entirely being a timekeeping medium to being a melodic voice in conjunction with the other parts of the set. In classical music, the bass drum often punctuates a musical impact, although it has other valid uses, depending on the size, and how and where the drum is struck. Implements used to strike the drum may include bass drum beaters of various sizes, shapes, and densities, as well as keyboard percussion mallets, timpani mallets, and drumsticks. The hand or fingers can also be used (it. con la mano). The playing techniques possible includes rolls, repetitions and unison strokes. Bass drums can sometimes be used for sound effects. e.g. thunder, or an earthquake.[3]
Influenced by the Janissary Music the large Turkish drum was introduced into the orchestral music in the 18th century, especially into operas which required oriental atmosphere. Gradually the instrument developed into the orchestral bass drum as we now know it.[2]

[edit]Drum kit bass drum

A kit bass drum is played using a pedal-operated mallet or beater. A right-handed drummer will usually operate a pedal with the right foot. A drum kit bass drum can also be called a foot drum or simply 'foot'.[4]
In a drum kit, the bass drum is much smaller than in the traditional orchestral use, most commonly 22" or 20" in diameter. Sizes from 16" to 28" in diameter are available , with depths of 14" to 22", 18" or 16" being normal. The standard bass drum size of past years was 20" x 14", with 22" x 18" being the current standard. Many manufacturers are now popularizing the 'power drum' concept as with tom-toms, with an 18" depth (22" x 18") to further lower the drum's fundamental note. This is a misconception, however, since the frequency of vibration and hence the fundamental note of a drum is determined by the width of the drum and not by the depth. A wider drum with a larger head would be capable of a lower tuning.
Sometimes the front head of a kit bass drum has a hole in it to allow air to escape when the drum is struck for shorter sustain. Muffling can be installed through the hole without taking off the front head. The hole also allows microphones to be placed into the bass drum for recording and amplification. In addition to microphones, sometimes trigger pads are used to amplify the sound and provide a uniform tone, especially when fast playing without decrease of volume is desired. Professional drummers often choose to have a customized bass drum front head, with the logo or name of their band on the front.
The kit bass drum may be more heavily muffled than the classical bass drum, and it is popular for drummers to use a pillow, blanket, or professional mufflers[5] inside the drum, resting against the batter head, to dampen the blow from the pedal, and produce a shorter "thud."
Different beaters have different effects, and felt, wood and plastic ones are all popular. Bass drums sometimes have a tom-tom mount on the top, to save having to use (and pay for) a separate stand or rack. Fastening the mount involves cutting a hole in the top of the bass drum to fix it, and 'virgin' bass drums do not have this hole cut in them, and so are professionally prized.

[edit]Bass drum pedal

William F. Ludwig made the bass drum pedal workable in 1909, paving the way for the modern drum kit.[6] A bass drum pedal operates much the same as the hi-hat; a footplate is pressed to pull a chain, belt, or metal drive mechanism downward, bringing a beater or mallet forward into the drumhead. The beater head is usually made of either felt, wood, plastic, or rubber and is attached to a rod-shaped metal shaft. The pedal and beater system are mounted in a metal frame and like the hi-hat, a tension unit controls the amount of pressure needed to strike and the amount of recoil upon release. A double bass drum pedal operates much the same way only with a second footplate attached by rod to a remote beater mechanism, which operates in tandem with the regular beater shaft.[7][8]
The double pedal has numerous advantages over two bass drums, such as being easier to handle, less space-consuming and a lot cheaper. Some performers still prefer the use of the double bass drum because, as professional drummer Dave Lombardo commented, "...you don't get the power of keeping two bass drums.".

Simon Phillips' double bass drums

[edit]Double bass drum

In many forms of heavy metal and hard rock, as well as some forms of jazz, fusion, and punk, two bass drum pedals are used (one operated by each foot) or a double-bass-pedal is used (two pedals on the same bass drum). The idea for the double bass drum setup came from jazz drummer Louie Bellson when he was still in high school. Double bass drums were used initially by jazz artists such as Ray McKinley and Ed Shaughnessy in the 1940s and 1950s, and popularized in the 1960s by rock drummers Ginger Baker of CreamMitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Keith Moon of The Who and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd[9]. Double bass drumming later became an integral part of thrash metal inspired by Lars Ulrich of MetallicaGar Samuelson of MegadethDave Lombardo of Slayer, and Charlie Benante of Anthrax. Bands likeAcceptJudas Priest and Eric Burdon & the New Animals used the double bass drum on more aggressive parts of their songs, especially on their live shows. Originally two tuned bass drums were used for this, but a double pedal on one bass drum using an extension mechanism for the second pedal is now common due to lower cost, ease of tuning, and ease of setup.[citation needed] Moreover, for many working drummers the space savings are significant.
When using a double bass drum pedal, the foot which normally controls the hi-hat pedal moves to the second bass drum pedal, and so the hi hat opens. When it is open, the notes will ring rather than click, as they do when it is closed, and so some drummers choose to use a drop-clutch.
A drop-clutch is a mechanism used to disengage and drop the top hi-hat in order to free up both feet while playing double bass drums. This results in the hi-hat producing a closed sound until the hi-hat foot is available again. Drop-clutches may be activated in various ways depending on manufacturer, by hitting the clutch either on the side or top down with a drumstick or by pressing a locking footpedal as with a Tama "Cobra Clutch" product which also allows for control over how much the hi-hat cymbals are closed. The clutch can be disengaged by pressing the hi-hat completely down or with the Cobra clutch, by pressing the unlocking pedal.[7][10] Other clutch designs are available from DW DrumsGibraltar Hardware, and The Coady Clutch from Billdidit.


The most common method of bass drum playing is a "heel-up" technique: the pedals are struck with the ball of the feet using force primarily from the thigh as opposed to the ankles when using the "heel-down" technique. Most drummers play single strokes, although there are many who are also capable of playing doubles or diddles. Drummers such as Grant Collins,Thomas LangVirgil Donati, and Mike Portnoy are capable of performing complicated solos on top of an ostinato bass drum pattern. Thomas Lang, for example, has mastered the heel-up and heel-down (single- and double-stroke) to the extent that he is able to play dynamically with the bass drum and to perform various rudiments with his feet.
In order to play "doubles", proponents of the "heel up" technique use either one of two techniques: the "slide technique" or the heel-toe technique. In the slide technique, the pedal is struck around the middle area with the ball of the foot. As the drum produces a sound, the toe is slid up the pedal. After the first stroke, the pedal will naturally bounce back, hit the toe as it slides upwards, and rebound for a second strike. In the heel-toe technique the foot is suspended above the foot-board of the pedal and the first note is played with the heel. The foot snaps up, the heel comes off the footboard, and the toes come down for a second stroke. Once mastered it allows the player to play very fast rolls on the bass drum. Noted players include Rod MorgensteinTim Waterson (who formerly held the world record for the fastest playing on a bass drum), Tomas HaakeChris AdlerDerek Roddy, and Danny Carey, George Kollias, Hell Hammer,. The technique is commonly used in death metal and other extreme forms of music.
In certain types of heavy metal and punk, drummers play a constant stream of rapid-fire notes on the bass drum, and the ability to play evenly at extremely high tempos is a skill prized within the heavy metal scene. Many extreme metalthrashcore and grindcore drummers use a combination of fast double bass drum patterns, the snare, and the cymbals to create blast beats.
With two feet playing bass drum, many of the techniques of snare drum playing (such as rudiments and rolls) can be performed on the bass drums.

[edit]Pitched bass drum in marching band use

Cavaliers Bassline 2006

Revolution's bass drums warm up in 2007.
The "bass line" is a unique musical ensemble consisting of graduated pitch marching bass drums commonly found in marching bandsand drum and bugle corps. Each drum plays a different note, and this gives the bass line a unique task in a musical ensemble. Skilled lines execute complex linear passages split among the drums to add an additional melodic element to the percussion section. This is characteristic of the marching bass drum — its purpose is to convey complex rhythmic and melodic content, not just to keep the beat. The line provides impact, melody, and tempo due to the nature of the sound of the instruments. The bass line has from as many as seven bass drums to as little as two.


A bass line typically consists of four or five musicians, each carrying one tuned bass drum, although variations do occur. Smaller lines are not uncommon in smaller groups, such as some high school marching bands, and several groups have had one musician playing more than one bass drum, usually small ones, with one mounted on top of the other.
The drums are typically between 16" and 32" in diameter, but some groups have used bass drums as small as 14" and larger than 36". The drums in a bass line are tuned such that the largest will always play the lowest note with the pitch increasing as the size of the drum decreases. Individually, the drums are usually tuned higher than other bass drums (drumset kick drums or orchestral bass drums) of the same size, so that complex rhythmic passages can be heard clearly and articulated.
Unlike the other drums in a drumline, the bass drums are generally mounted sideways, with the drumskin facing horizontally, rather than vertically. This results in several things. First of all, to ensure that a vibrating membrane is facing the audience, bass drummers must faceperpendicular to the rest of the band and so are the only section in most groups whose bodies do not face the audience while playing. Consequently, bass drummers usually point their drums at the back of the bass drummer in front of them, so that the drum heads will all be lined up, from the audience's point of view, next to one another in order to produce optimal sound output.

[edit]Playing a marching bass drum

Since the bass drum is oriented differently than a snare or tenor drum, the stroke itself is different, but the fundamentals remain the same. As the article "Bass Drum" states, "your forearms should be parallel to the ground, bent at the elbows. The line between your shoulder and elbow should be vertical. Hold the mallet upward at a 45-degree angle[11]. The hands hold bass mallets in such a way as to place the center of the mallet in the center of the head.
The motion of the basic stroke is either similar to the motion of turning a doorknob, that is, an absolute forearm rotation, or similar to that of a snare drummer, where the wrist is the primary actor, or more commonly, a hybrid of these two strokes. Bass drum technique sees huge variation between different groups both in the ratio of forearm rotation to wrist turn and the differing views on how the hand works while playing. Some techniques also call for the use of fingers supporting the motion of the mallet by opening or closing, but no matter whether its open or closed the thumb needs to be close to the rest of the fingers.
However, the basic stroke on a drum produces just one of the many sounds a bass line can produce. Along with the solo drum, the "unison" is one of the most common sounds used. It is produced when all of the bass drums play a note at the same time and with a balanced sound; this option has a very full, powerful sound. The rim click, which is when the shaft (near the mallet head) is struck against the rim of the drum, either solo or in unison. Rimshots are rare on a bass drum and usually only happen on the top drums.A Rimshot is a sound that is produced when the stick hits the rim and the head of the drum at the same time[12].
The different positions of the typical five person bass line each require different skills, though not necessarily different levels of skills. Contrary to the popular belief that "higher is better," each drum has its own critical role to play.
Bottom, or fifth bass, is the largest, heaviest, and lowest drum in the drumline. Consequently, it is used frequently to help maintain pulse in an ensemble and is thus sometimes referred to as the "heartbeat" of the group (the bottom bass was also often referred to as the "thud" bass in days gone by, indicating that many of their notes were the last one at the end of a phrase). Although this player does not always play as many notes as fast as other bass drummers (the depth of pitch renders most complex passages indistinguishable from a roll), his or her role is absolutely essential not only to the sound of the bass line or the drum line, but to the ensemble as a whole, especially in the case of parade bands.
Fourth bass is slightly smaller than the bottom drum (generally two to four inches (102 mm) smaller in diameter) and can function tonally similarly to its lower counterpart, but usually plays slightly more rapid parts and is much more likely to play "off the beat" - in the middle rather than at the beginning or end of a passage.
Third bass is the middle drum, both in terms of position and tone. Its function is usually that of the archetypical bass drum. This player plays an integral role in the actual rendering of complex linear passages.
Second bass is known for having the most difficult job in the drumline. This player's parts are very likely to be directly adjacent to the beginning or end of a phrase and less likely to be on a beat, which is highly counter-intuitive, especially to a new player. Sometimes this drum can function about the same as the top drum, but usually the second and top drummer function as a unit, playing very rudimentally difficult passages split between them. This makes Second bass the drum usually played by the section leader.
Top, or first, bass is the highest pitched drum in the bass line and usually starts or ends phrases. This Bass is usually known for being the easiest because it is played in the beginning of the phrase, but when given the snare like music,it can be the most complex. The high tension drum heads allow this player to play notes that are just as taxing as those of the snare line, and often the top bass will play a part in unison with the snare line to add some depth to their sound.

[edit]Muffling a marching bass drum

There are a few different ways to properly muffle a marching bass drum. Unlike the bass drum on a drumset, muffling should not lie inside the drum and should only be a thin strip of foam glued either to the outside part of the head, glued to the inside of the shell protruding about or with certain heads "wedged" in between the inside part of the head and a clear ring that goes all the way around the head.If the tuner uses generic weather-stripping type foam, start with medium density. If inexperienced or do not know how much foam to apply, the person should apply it to the outside of the head after he/she has put the head onto the drum. Once drum is tuned to the right pitch, make a note of how much foam was applied for future head changes. At that time, apply the foam to the inside of the head before its placed on the drum. This provides a cleaner look to the drumhead and will protect the foam from falling from the player’s beating and the environment[13].

[edit]Audio samples

The bass drum is used in orchestral musicensemble musicconcert band musicmarching music, and throughout 20th century as a component of the drum kit in jazz, rock and related styles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
USAFE Band timpanist.jpg
A timpanist at work
Percussion instrument
Other namesKettle drums, Timps, Pauken, Timbales
Hornbostel-Sachs classification211.11-922
(Struck membranophone with membrane lapped on by a hoop)
Developed12th century from the Arabic naker
Playing range
Range timpani.png
Ranges of individual sizes[1] Timpani Range Individual.JPG
Related instruments
Timpani (also known as kettledrums) 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 called a timpani 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 classicalorchestra by the last third of the 18th century. Today, they are used in many types of musical ensembles including concert,marching, 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 kettledrumstimpani, or simply timps. They are also often incorrectly termed timpanis. A musician who plays the timpani is known as a timpanist.

Alternative spellings and etymology

Alternative spellings with y in place of either or both is—tympanitympany, 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 Ashanti pair of talking drums are known as atumpan.
The tympanum is defined in the Etymologiae of St. 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]


[edit]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. 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.[6] 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.

[edit]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 considered 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.

[edit]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 an assembly of either cast metal or metal rods called the spider.
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 Dresdenpedal 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.

[edit]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 low or high notes.

[edit]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 timpaniAdams Musical Instruments developed a pedal-operated version of this tuning mechanism in the early 21st century.

[edit]Timpani heads

Like most drumheads, timpani heads can be 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 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" drum may require a 25" head.

[edit]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. Unwrapped sticks with heads of wood, felt, flannel, and leather are also common.[3]Wood sticks are used as a special effect—specifically requested by composers as early as the Romantic era—and in authentic performances of Baroque music.
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, the choice of stick during a 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.[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.

[edit]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 and to help lift the stick off of the drum.[7]The American grip is a hybrid of these two grips.

[edit]In the modern ensemble

A standard set of timpani consists of four drums.

[edit]A set of timpani

A standard set of timpani (sometimes called a timpani console)[by whom?] consists of four drums: roughly 32 inches (81 cm), 29 inches (74 cm), 26 inches (66 cm), and 23 inches (58 cm) in diameter.[8] 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, contemporary composers have written for extended ranges. Igor Stravinsky specifically writes for a piccolo timpano in The Rite of Spring, tuned to the B below middle C. A piccolo drum is typically 20 inches (51 cm) in diameter and can reach pitches up to middle C.
Beyond this extended set of five instruments, any added drums are nonstandard. (Luigi Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amorerequires as many as eleven drums, with actual melodies played on them in octaves by two players.) Many professional orchestras and timpanists own more than just one set of timpani, allowing them to execute music that cannot be more accurately performed using a standard set of four or five drums and music that requires more than one set of timpani.
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 29-inch (74 cm), 26-inch (66 cm), and 23-inch (58 cm) 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 AmericanBritish, and French timpanists set their drums up with the lowest drum on the left and the highest on the right (commonly called the American system), while GermanAustrian, and Greek players set them up the opposite way (the German system).[3] This distinction is not strict, as many North American players use the German setup and vice-versa.


Balanced action timpani are often 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 ensemble, a timpanist is not normally required to play any other instruments. In his book Anatomy of the OrchestraNorman 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 repertoire requiring multiple timpanists and filling in for the principal timpanist when required.

[edit]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 Druschetzkyand Johann Melchior Molter also wrote pieces for timpani and orchestra.
Throughout the 19th century and much of the 20th, there were no new timpani concertos. Then, in 1983, William Kraft, principal timpanist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, composed his Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, which won second prize in theKennedy Center Friedheim Awards. From this point forward, numerous timpani concertos have been composed. Notably,Philip Glass, who is considered one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century, wrote a double concerto titledConcerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, which features its soloists playing seven drums apiece.

[edit]Performance techniques

[edit]Striking the drum

For general playing, a timpanist will beat the head approximately 4 inches in from the edge.[8] 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.


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").
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 BartókSamuel 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 interrottomovement 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.


Since timpani have a long sustain, muffling or dampening is an inherent 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 concern of 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.[8]
Muffling is often referred to as muting, which can also refer to playing the drums with mutes on them (see below).

[edit]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 thestring 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 sometimes 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. In his Overture to Benvenuto Cellini, for example, Hector Berlioz realizes fulls chords from the timpani section by requiring three timpanists and assigning one drum to each. He goes as far as ten timpanists playing three- and four-part chords on sixteen drums in his Requiem, although with the introduction of pedal tuning, this number can be reduced.
Modern composers will often specify the beating spot to alter the sound of the drum. 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. Struck close to the edge, timpani produce a very thin, hollow sound. This effect is used by composers such as Bartók, Bernstein, and Kodály.
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 it 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—typically small pieces of felt or leather—should be placed on the head.
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 StoryEdward Elgar attempts to use the timpani to imitate the engine of an ocean liner in his "Enigma" Variations by requesting the timpanist play a soft roll 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. Benjamin Britten asks for the timpanist to use drum sticks in his War Requiem to evoke the sound of a field drum.
Robert W. Smith's Songs of Sailor and Sea calls for a "whale sound" on the timpani. This is achieved by moistening the thumb and rubbing it from the edge to the center of the drumhead. 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 MillenniumCarl Orff asks for cymbals resting on the drumhead while the drum is struck in his later works.


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

[edit]Pre-orchestral history

Dukar-Tikar, fromNagara genre, kettledrumswhich accompany theShehnai, a woodwindinstrument. RajasthanIndia.
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."[8]
The Moon of Pejeng, also known as the Pejeng Moon,[9] in Bali, the largest single-cast bronze kettle drum in the world,[10] is more than two thousand years old.[11] 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.[12] The drum is in the Pura Penataran Asih temple."[13]
In 1188, Cambro-Norman chronicler Gerald of Wales wrote, "Ireland uses and delights in two instruments only, the harp namely, and the tympanum."[14]
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 classicalorchestra.
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]

[edit]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 were 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 were 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.[15]
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.[8]
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.[16] 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 demandingglissandos 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.

[edit]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 1970s 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.[17]
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 BeatlesLed ZeppelinThe Beach Boys, and Queen incorporated timpani into their music. This led to the use of timpani inprogressive rockEmerson, Lake & Palmer recorded a number of rock covers of classical pieces that utilize timpani. More recently, the rock bandMuse 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.

[edit]List of selected works for timpani

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

[edit]Music samples

[edit]See also


  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". 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). Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  6. ^ Power, Andrew (April 1983). "Sound Production of the Timpani, Part 1". Percussive Notes (Percussive Arts Society21 (4): 62–64.
  7. ^ Stewart Hoffman Music, http://www.stewarthoffmanmusic.com/articles-percussion-techniques.php?id=47, 2007
  8. a b c d e Goodman, Saul (1988) [1948]. Modern Method for TympaniVan NuysCaliforniaAlfred Publishing Company, Inc.ISBN 0-7579-9100-9.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Iain Stewart and Ryan Ver Berkmoes, Bali & Lombok (Lonely Planet, 2007), 203.
  11. ^ Yayasan Bumi Kita and Anne Gouyon, The Natural Guide to Bali: Enjoy Nature, Meet the People, Make a Difference (Tuttle Publishing, 2005), 109.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Rita A. Widiadana, "Get in touch with Bali's cultural heritage," The Jakarta Post (06/06/2002).
  14. ^ Topographia Hibernica, III.XI; tr. O'Meary, p. 94.
  15. ^ Krentzer, Bill (December 1969). "The Beethoven Symphonies: Innovations of an Original Style in Timpani Scoring". Percussionist (Percussive Arts Society7 (2): 55–62.
  16. ^ Bowles, Edmund A. (1999). "The Impact of Technology on Musical Instruments"COSMOS Journal (Cosmos Club). Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  17. ^ Beating Retreat page, showing image of mounted bands with timpani in 2008.

[edit]Further reading

Bongo drum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A pair of bongos
Bongo drums or bongos are a Cuban percussion instrument consisting of a pair of single-headed, open-ended drums attached to each other. The drums are of different size: the larger drum is called in Spanish the hembra (female) and the smaller themacho (male). It is most often played by hand and is especially associated in Cuban music with a steady patter or ostinato of eighth-notes known as the martillo or "hammer".[1]

Origin and history

The Atlantic slave trade brought the antecedent of the bongos to Cuba from Africa. The history of bongo drumming can be traced to the Cuban music styles known as salsachangüí,bolero, and son, which first developed in eastern Cuba (Oriente Province) in the late 19th century. Some of the first recordings of bongos can be heard performed by the groups Sexteto Habanero and Septeto Nacional. They have become a popular instrument among soundtrack writers for movies and television.
The name may have evolved from the Abakua drum trio 'Bonko' and its lead drum 'Bonko Enmiwewos'. These drums are still a fundamental part of the Abakua Religion in Cuba. If joined with a wooden peck in the middle, such drums would look much like the bongos we know today.
Bongo-like pairs of drums with ceramic bodies and goatskin or rawhide heads are found in Morocco where they are known as tbila (Arabic: "drums"), as well as in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. They resemble their cousins the Indian tabla and the European timpani, both deriving partly from the Arab nakers. They can sometimes be found accompanyingflamenco and other traditional Spanish music, partially because of the Moorish influence in Spain. However, all these other paired types are closed at one end, while bongos are always open ended like the conga and the goblet drum.


Bongos are typically made of wood, metal or composite materials, attached by a thick piece of wood. The drum head can be made of animal skin or synthetic. Some bongoceros prefer the sound of X-ray film as the head on the macho. Initially, bongo had tacked-on heads which were tensioned with moisture and heat. By the 1940s, metal tuning lugs developed to facilitate easier tuning.

[edit]Playing technique

Bongo drums produce relatively high-pitched sounds compared to conga drums, and should be held between the knees with the larger drum on the right when right-handed. They are traditionally played by striking the drumheads with the fingers and palms, although some contemporary compositions require drum sticks. Bongos can also be muted by placing part of the hand on top of the head while striking it. In Cuban music, bongos are usually played by the same musician as the cowbell (Spanish: cencerro). These drums can also be played on a stand, as is the case with concert orchestras and bands.
The moose call or glissando is done by rubbing the third finger, supported by the thumb, across the head of the drum. The finger is sometimes moistened with saliva, or sweat before rubbing it across the head.[2] Some bongo players may use beeswax to help make the sound.[3]

[edit]See also


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wiki Lenke-Djembe-Conakry-Guinea.JPG
A Lenke Wood Djembe from Conakry, Guinea, West Africa
Other namesdjimbe, jenbe, jymbe, jembe,
ClassificationAfrican Percussion instrument, Heads are goatskin, body of hardwood.
Playing range
Rope tuned, low for ensemble, high for lead.
Related instruments
AshikoGoblet drum
Mamady KeïtaSoungalo CoulibalyFamoudou Konate
More articles
djembe (pronounced /ˈdʒɛmbeɪ/ 'JEM-bay') also known as jembejenbedjimbejymbeyembe, or jimbay, or sanbanyi in Susu; is a skin-covered hand drum shaped like a large goblet and meant to be played with bare hands. According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes directly from the saying "Anke dje, anke be" which literally translates to "everyone gather together" and defines the drum's purpose. In the Bambara language, "Dje" is the verb for "gather" and "be" translates as "everyone"[1].
Other researchers conclude the name originates from the 'Djem' tree (Sycamore fig) which was commonly used for the body shell of the instrument.[2]
It is a member of the membranophone family of musical instruments: a frame or shell (in the djembe's case it is a wood shell) covered by amembrane or drumhead made of rawhide or some other material. Djembes are commonly about 12" (30 cm) in diameter and 24" (60 cm) in height, varying a few inches. They can also be found in many smaller sizes, from 5" (13 cm) to 18" (46 cm) in diameter. As a result of thegoblet shape, the density of the wood, the internal carvings, and the skin, there is a wide range of tones that can be produced by the djembe. The rounded shape with the extended tube of the djembe body forms a device known in physics as a Helmholtz resonator, giving it its deep bass note. The primary notes are generally referred to as "bass", "tone", and "slap", though a variety of other tones can also be produced by advanced players. The slap has a high and sharp sound, the tone is more round and full, and the bass is low and deep.


The proper sound is achieved with minimum effort for maximum effect. The key is to either focus or disperse the hand's energy and to position the hand in the correct place. The bass and tone notes require focused energy (beginners will have the most success by holding their fingers firmly together), while the slap requires dispersed energy (fingers are relaxed).
Striking the skin with the palm and fingers toward the drum's centre produces a bass note; striking the skin near the rim (with the fleshy part of the palm just above the rim) produces the tone and slap. The tone must ring by striking like it's a hot pan. Beginners may think of the tone and slap as fingers "together" and "apart." Advanced players will not take the time to make that obvious physical change but will rather make a less visibly obvious change from "focused" to "dispersed."


There is general agreement that the origin of the djembe is associated with a class of Mandinka blacksmiths known as Numu. The wide dispersion of the djembe drums throughout West Africa may be due to Numu migrations dating from the first millennium A.D. Despite the associations of the djembe with the Numu, there do not appear to be hereditary restrictions upon who can play the djembe as occurs with some other African instruments.
Spelling "jembe" with the "dj" comes from the fact that French has no hard "j" sound like that found in English. The "dj" is used to indicate the hard "j" pronunciation. The French were instrumental in studying and describing African drumming to the world. However, colonization by the French is a sore spot for many West African people, and spelling jembe with the "d" can be a painful reminder of that. Since independence (1958–1960) African governments have been working toward indigenous ways of spelling their local languages in accordance with international standards of phonetic transcription. (Charry) In the Malinke language, the word is spelled "dyìnbe" because the Malinke orthography does not include the letter "j" (cf. Marianne Friedländer, Lehrbuch des Malinke, Langenscheidt Verlag, 1992, p. 279, 159-160).


Traditionally crafted djembe drums were carved from a single section of a Lenge tree. Lenge was used for centuries due to its acoustic and spiritual qualities among the Malinke, whose traditional wisdom states that a spiritual energy, or nyama, runs through all things, living or dead. Other types of wood may also be substituted, depending upon the forests accessible to the drum makers. Some West African hardwoods used for musician-quality instruments carved in Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and Côte d'Ivoire include djalla, dougi/dimba, khari/hare/gueni, and acajou. Properly made drums are not smooth on the interior but have a spiral channel inside that enhances the tonal qualities. Splinters and rough carving inside are signs of a hastily made drum. The djembe is headed on one side with the shaved skin of a goat, antelope or cow. Prior to the twentieth century, the skin was attached with the sinew or intestine of the animal, or by cutting and stretching a strip of rawhide.
The construction of the djembe has changed significantly over the past half-century. The usage of industrialized materials, such as steel hoops, nylon-core rope, and rubber tires, began with the advent of the West African Ballets, and has become the norm. As djembes are increasingly exported to foreign shores, some take advantage of overseas markets by cutting corners, while others push further development and refinement of djembe construction. In the mid 1990s furniture makers in Ghana took note of the commercial success being experienced by traditional djembe drum carvers. The craftspeople in Ghana, where the kpanlogo and oblenten drums are the most well known traditional drums, began to carve and sell djembes from Tweneboa, a soft wood. Using soft wood required a much thicker shell that fails to produce the resonant and explosive sound of a hardwood djembe.
The drumheads are typically made from goatskin and more rarely can be antelopezebradeer, or calfskin. West African goat skins are known to djembe musicians as having a different sound than goats domesticated in more temperate climates. Goats raised in West Africa experience a rougher existence, different climate, and different diet, which apparently toughen and harden the skins in a way that impacts their sound quality. Goat skins from animals bred and raised in the Americas and Europe have been known to be softer and tear more easily under the extreme tension required for a playable drum.
The djembe has also spawned a plethora of look-alikes made from synthetic materials. The explosion of drum circles, as well as the usage of djembe within pop and rock ensembles, have led to an increase in synthetic drums. These drums have shells formed of plastic or resin-composite materials, metal mechanical tuning rather than traditional ropes, and often plastic rather than goatskin heads. They are often manufactured and sold by drumset and percussion manufacturers such as Pearl, Meinl, Toca, and Remo,and JP Hernandez custom Percussion(phillippines).


Djembe drums are tuned by evenly pulling the vertical ropes very tightly so that a system of metal rings brings the skin down over the drum shell. These verticals are tightened all the way around, perhaps taking multiple passes, and using a lever of some sort.(Rope puller) The next step is to use more rope to put in horizontal "twists" of the vertical ropes(Mali weave). It passes under two verticals(diamond pattern), back over one, under one (making a Z or S shape), then gets pulled hard and down. Uniform and parallel rows of twists, as low as possible, is the ideal.
When a new skin is being put on a drum, this whole pulling process is preceded by soaking a skin in water until it is very pliable. That wet skin is placed on the drum with the ring system while the rope verticals gently pull the rings down a bit. Then it's left to dry completely before the vigorous pulling and twisting described above happens. Tuning an African made Djembe drum

[edit]Western Music

The djembé was adopted into African American and American culture. The bags and the clothing of the man on the right are printed with traditional kente cloth patterns.
The djembe plays a key role in modern music that needs a highly percussive rhythm section. It has been used by such artists as The Beatles,Ben HarperKeller WilliamsPaul SimonPeter GabrielLarry Mullen, Jr of U2Grateful DeadBedouin SoundclashIncubusBrandon Boyd,Gruvis MaltBrian Rosenworcel of GusterDispatchCause&Freedom and Micheal (I'm Under the Thumb)Cross, of bands such as Jp Hernandez(Paryente)Phillipines. , The Swamp Monsters,The Spirt Merchants, FreeFall,Railway Paddys, Valentino Black, Mick Dunne, Some Lemon, Louisiana Francis, Derek McCreanor, I Swing Both Ways, Double Adaptor, The Mooney Tunes, Toss the Feathers, Toss the Michael Jnr, The Concordes, S Club Juniors, John Butler Trio Afterparty, Lemon, The Blizzards and too many jazz bands to mention. An American manufactured version of an African djembe was played on main stage with a New Zealand Maori fire twirler in a show produced by the Canadian circus company, Cirque du Soleil, called Allegria, which was filmed in Australia in 2000. In 2008 June, the djembe was featured in the American film "The Visitors", directed by Tim McCarthy, depicting a university professor's unlikely introduction to drum circles through the instruction of a young Syrian drummer. The djembe is very popular in drum circles, and in many circles is the primary instrument, most likely for its easily portable size, wide range of sounds, and its distinct tones. In certain songs using the djembe it replaces a drumset to give it a different feel, such as "Burn One Down" by Ben Harper. The British power electronics band Whitehouse experimented a lot with djembes and other African percussion instruments on their last three albums, and the former member William Bennett later started what he calls the "Afro Noise" Project, in which he attempts to give African percussion instruments an important role in noise music.
Iannis Xenakis composed Okho for three djembes.
Rasaan-Elijah "Talu" Green plays djembe on Broadway in Fela!


Traditionally, as today, in Africa an individual needs to spend many years accompanying his master in ceremonies and other festivities before becoming a real djembefola (djembe player). Today in the communities of the "western civilization" learning to play the djembe generally involves finding a master drummer and having private lessons or lessons for small groups of people. Players generally need to learn the basic sounds and traditional rhythm samples (4/4 and 12/8) to be able to follow classes. Many years of playing and learning are needed to be able to produce a sound that is comparable in its quality to that of a master drummer.
Written transcriptions of rhythms tend to be imprecise. Usually only the basic idea of the rhythm is transcribed but the real feeling that it carries can't be easily put down on paper. This is due to the nature of the West African music - the different types of swing (at least four of them) that are not expressible with western notation. For this reason the written material for advanced players is still scarce if not unavailable, while the general and informational literature are readily obtained.

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