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Topic: percussion question

  1. #1

    percussion question

    In the spirit of the left-handed violin, but seriously: would there be a percussion player around or anyone else who would be able to tell me which of these variants are playable on three timpani?

    My favorite, and the way it was first written, is the last and most complicated. Adding to the problem is the required tuning of the lowest drum by a half step up and then back down.

    There is a recording here of my synthesized versions of each: Timpani Example The bass and clarinet lines don't change from version to version; there are 1,2,3 or 4 ticks before each version to identify it.



  2. #2

    Re: percussion question

    Hi Guglielmo,

    They're all playable, though as you might have guessed, the first is the easiest.

    Many timpanists would prefer to play these parts on four drums (if available) instead of pedaling the low drum up and down, though the 'D' will sound a little tubby. I would also add an accent on the start of each five grouping to help the cross rhythm speak (if that's what you want).

    Caution must be used when scoring for timps, in that intricate patterns across multiple drums start to sound like a jumble at low to medium volumes (unless this is the effect you are after). This is especially true at faster tempos and greater subdivisions at slower tempos. Timpani are much less the percussive instrument than is widely assumed. Being the resonant instrument that it is, I believe the timps are almost always more effective playing parts that allow them to sustain and resonate musically.

    That said, intricate rhythms are very appropriate for other percussion instruments: snare, xylophone, tambourine, etc. and scoring one of these in the same rhythm with the timpani part will help clarify the timp part. Also, the timpani could be simplified into perhaps eighth and quarter notes, while the original rhythm is played on snare or tambourine.

    Another possibility is to mark the timpani 'coperti' or 'con sordino', meaning muted, but mark it a dynamic louder. The muting will halve the resonance and give the part more of a chance to speak. Many professional timpanists might decide to do this anyway, even if muting is not specifically called for, depending on how the part is coming across unmuted.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Thumbs up Re: percussion question

    I concur. They are all playable.

  4. #4

    Re: percussion question

    Thanks for the comments -- I also got some good and more or less similar information from folks at 'drumdogs.com' forum, where many drummers hang out.

    With all this information I'll (naturally) rewrite it some more!


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