noun plural but singular or plural in construction \ˈtim-pə-nē\

music : a set of two or three large drums (called kettledrums) that are played by one performer in an orchestra

Full Definition of TIMPANI

:  a set of two or more kettledrums played by one performer in an orchestra or band

Variants of TIMPANI

tim·pa·ni also tym·pa·ni \ˈtim-pə-nē\

Origin of TIMPANI

Italian, plural of timpano kettledrum, from Latin tympanum drum — more at tympanum
First Known Use: circa 1854


   (Concise Encyclopedia)

Modern timpani with pedal-controlled tension—Courtesy of Ludwig Industries, Chicago

Large bowl-shaped drums with pedal mechanisms for altering their pitch by changing the membrane's tension. The timpani are the principal orchestral percussion instruments. Each drum usually has a range of a fifth; they are classically used in pairs. Until c. 1800 each drum was tuned to a single pitch (usually tonic or dominant) that could not be altered in performance. Primitive kettledrums, or nakers, were played on horseback by Middle Eastern cavalry. In Europe they were primarily associated, in tandem with the trumpets, with court ceremony and the military. They entered the orchestra in the mid-17th century.

Variants of TIMPANI

timpani or kettledrums


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