• Tempered Tuning – timpani in tune with itself: same pitch at each tuning rod
  • Drum sizes and pitch ranges:

32” (30”) D-A, 29” (28”) F-C, 26” (25”) Bb-F, 23” D-A, 20” F-C

Ear Training

  • Match pitches with voice (during the initial stages of learning to tune, percussionists may feel unsure about singing.
  • Encourage the entire ensemble to sing the desired pitch along with the percussionist. This can help the percussionist and raise the level of awareness of other musicians.)
  • Learn intervals – match given pitch , then sing desired interval
  • Experiment with familiar melodies:
    • P5 – Twinkle Twinkle
    • P4 – Here Comes the Bride
    • M3 – Michael Row
    • m3 – Brahms’ Lullaby
    • M2 – Happy Birthday
    • m2 – Jaws
  • Solfege syllables – more advanced, sing patterns (arpeggio’s, etc…)

Tuning Procedure

  • Pitch references for initial tuning
    • Pitch pipe, keyboard percussion, tuning fork, another instrument, etc…
    1. Obtain lowest pitch on drum
    2. Listen to the pitch
    3. Sing, internalize the pitch*** (extremely important)
    4. Tap the drum once – then quickly move the pedal up to the desired pitch
    5. Stop on the desired pitch – if you over shoot the desired pitch return to step one. Do not try to adjust the pitch downward.

Additional thoughts:

  • Timpani sound best in the middle of their range (try to avoid lowest note when possible).
  • Tuning gauges – can be a crutch, must be accurately set and maintained
    Sitting on a stool can free the feet for pedaling (also benefits short & tall players).

Changing pitch during piece – mark changes in music

  • Find pitch in the ensemble if possible, if not, “tune out” the ensemble
  • Good handle of intervals
  • Be discrete – hum quietly and vibrate the head quietly
  • Keep good time while making the change
  • Best sound – start at edge, slowly striking the drum and moving toward middle, you will find the most resonant sound (2” – 3” from edge)

Grip – German and French = direct affect on tone

Mallet choices – staccato, general, cartwheels (different articulations, weight, tone)

Rolls – SINGLE STROKE, roll speed determined by pitch. Lower pitch=slower head vibration, Higher pitch=faster head vibration (faster decay)

  • Volume achieved with stick height

Sticking/ Muffling – try to alternate, if need be – double or cross-over

  • Muffling – press fingertips (soft dynamics) and base of hand (louder dynamics) on the head. Don’t swipe – makes extraneous sound.