Timpani Instrumentation

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The development of percussion throughout centuries has been a long evolution of varied instruments that have greatly affected the way people hear and understand music. Since time began, humans have used percussion instruments to accompany their music, dances, and rituals. In the West, percussion in the orchestra gradually evolved and grew over time into a powerful section of the group, with an imposing range of tools and roles at its disposal (Gagné). In recent times, non-Western percussion has further expanded that variety and served as an inspiration for many composers. In particular, Timpani have long been used in concert settings but have evolved over the years in the way in which they have been played and the applications in compositions. …show more content…
In his overture Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the timpani are used for basic rhythmic expression that helps to create expressive tempo and distinct phrasing. The instrument is used mostly toward the end of the piece as the polyphonic textures prevalent throughout the song come to more of a singularity through the expression of monophonic melodic lines. Although the dynamic of the piece remains mostly constant throughout, the timpani are used to heighten sections in which the trumpets respond to the melodic motifs in the strings. This relative complexity in the instrumentation allows for greater expression and tonal character within that particular section. As the work draws to a close, timpani are used in accompaniment to the homophonic melody which helps to produce a clear and distinct ending. Through this inclusion into his writing, Lully helped establish the timpani as a legitimate instrument and proved that it could be used within the setting of a symphony or overture, thus propelling it into the Classical …show more content…
Throughout the piece, the timpani provide the main backdrop and driving force behind the piece. Because there is a total of 12 timpani used in the piece, the composer is able to produce and articulate a number of intricate melodic lines in which the band supports, whereas in a normal symphony those roles would be reversed. With only a few timpani serving as accompaniment to the motifs created in the non-percussive instruments. There is another change in traditional orchestral set up in that the 12 timpani are split between two players and placed at the front of the stage. Within the composition, written as a concerto for timpani, percussive themes and rhythmic ostinatos serve as the centerpiece of the composition. Both timpanists play a critical role in the performance and each player’s part in written to complete the phrases of the other, or to accompany the pattern of the leading timpanist in a given phrase. The genius in the piece is found in the constant exploration and ambiance produced through the writing of parts for strings, brass, and winds, all the while never losing sight of the fact that it is indeed a concerto for the

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