The

European

Timpani

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THE DRUMS

HISTORY OF THE TIMPANI

CALF SKIN

GOAT SKIN

PLASTIC SKIN

HEAD MAINTENANCE

PEDALS

MACHINE DRUMS

TUNING GAUGES

TIMPANI SETUP

KETTLES AND ACOUSTICS

SPECIAL DRUM SIZES

TIMPANI WEIGHT

CHOOSING THE DRUMS

CONCLUSIONS

REPERTOIRE

BIOGRAPHIES

THE RESPONSES

BIBLIOGRAPHY


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MY RESPONSES

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MY RESPONSES :

What sets of timpani (make, model) do you regularly use in your orchestra?

Concorde timpani, with balanced action pedals. The design is an amalgamation of aspects of Ludwig and Adams timpani.

How long has each set of drums been used in your orchestra?

Less than 2 years, but the orchestra itself has only been a symphony orchestra, as opposed to a string orchestra, for a little over 3 years.

How many drums are in each set and what are their sizes?

32 29 26 23

Why do you use these sizes of timpani?

This is all that I have available, but given the opportunity, Id love to add a 25 timpani to this set. Ideally Id only use a 23 drum for notes above f.

For what repertoire, or periods of music, is each set of drums used?

Given that its the only set of timpani available, at the moment everything.

Is there a connection between the size and sound of your orchestra - and the acoustics of your performance hall and your choice of timpani?

These drums work well in this in orchestra. As its only a 50 piece ensemble, I think with heavier, for example Ringer style timpani, I would be in danger at times of overpowering the orchestra.

Does the performance location or environmental conditions influence your choice of timpani ?

With only one set of timpani, theres not really a choice, but even with calf I would still take the chance, unless the concert was actually outdoors.

HEADS

What are your reasons for using each type of head? eg. different periods of repertoire, performance location (inside / outside)

I use Renaissance heads, and this is what came with the timpani. One day I hope to start playing on calf heads, but as Im still settling into this job, this is something for the future.

Could you please give your thoughts on Renaissance heads? How do they compare to other plastic heads?

I like the warmth and projection of the Renaissance heads. To me the other plastic heads give a tubby and unfocused sound, but this is partly because the sticks I prefer are more suited to Renaissance (or calf).

Does the conductor of your orchestra have an influence on the choice of drums and heads?

They never comment.

How regularly do you change the heads on your drums?

Ive only been in this orchestra for 6 months, and in that time the heads havent needed changing.

How often do you clear (adjust the skin at each tension rod to the same pitch) the skins on your timpani?

I check them regularly and make adjustments as required. After one tour, the heads were very out of tune and took a long time to settle down, regardless of whatever clearing method I tried.

TUNING

The Concorde timpani have balanced action pedals.

What do you feel are the advantages / disadvantages of using this tuning system?

Its fast and convenient, but even with careful maintenance, the is still minor slippage in the upper register of one drum which I havent been able to remove. Also, even though fine tuning is meant to be very easy with a clutch-less pedal, I find that minor adjustments to cope with changing pitch in the orchestra are much easier and more accurate with the master tuning handle found on timpani with Dresden or Berlin pedals.

Does the tuning system have an affect on the way you play this drum?

No

Do you use tuning gauges on your timpani? Do you think they are necessary?

I must admit to using them a lot, but naturally they are a guide only and fine tuning must be done by ear.

PERFORMANCE

In what order do you set up your timpani?  

Germanic style, with the low drum on the right.

Is this set-up one of personal preference or influenced by other factors eg. the design of the timpani?

Since beginning playing percussion in high school and up until my mid-20s I played with the low drum on the left and didnt have any reason to change. Also I played a lot of tuned percussion so low-high=right-left made sense. Then I moved to Amsterdam for postgraduate studies where the timpani are setup using the German system, and completely changed my technique, so now it is very natural to play big, full notes on the low drum with my right hand.

When I came to Macao, at first I played the way we do in Australia, with the low drum on the left; the timpani here are designed for this setup. But I feel more comfortable now, and play more naturally, with the opposite setup, so I changed back to this. Luckily this is possible with balanced action timpani, and having the gauges in odd positions is a minor inconvenience and easily adjusted to.

Do you have any thoughts on the advantages or disadvantages of each setup, in what ways does it influence performance?

No advantages or disadvantages, but I feel more comfortable with the Germanic setup. Also, as the trumpets sit next to the timpani in my orchestra, and I often dont use the 23 timpani (we play a lot of 2 and 3 drum repertoire), communication with them is very easy.

Do you perform sitting or standing? If sitting, is the stool in a high or low position?

Always sitting. The stool is in a medium high position so I have more control over the playing height. I can play low and into the drums while still avoiding the rims, or with a high and light stroke without any extra effort.

Could you please give your thoughts on how playing position affects the sound of the timpani?

Like I said above, I think if you sit too low it is very difficult to play with a high stroke to give the timpani and light and open sound, so you will always sound darker and heavier.

If your orchestra were to hold a timpani audition, what drums would auditionees be asked to perform on, for what types of repertoire?

Weve only got one set.

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