tim·​pa·​ni | \ ˈtim-pə-nē How to pronounce timpani (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of timpani

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

Examples of timpani in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The timpani take command, as drums never had before in any music outside the military. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Beethoven’s Fifth is the music of our moment. How Teodor Currentzis makes it so," 14 Apr. 2020 Even trombones and timpani got carried away here and there. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Fort Worth Symphony delivers expert and expressive performance for conductor Robert Trevino," 29 Feb. 2020 Struggle, that is, until Primo wins his brother Secondo’s heart with a glorious pair of timpani. Craig Cavallo, Saveur, "The Greatest Pasta Moments in Movie History," 31 Aug. 2017 For on this occasion, the thundering timpani with which Gershwin opens the piece reveled in swing rhythm, thanks largely to the contributions of trio drummer Jason Marsalis. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Philharmonic review: Marcus Roberts jazzes Gershwin’s Concerto in F," 6 Dec. 2019 Without the bright contributions of so many soloists on timpani, baroque trumpet, traverse flute, and oboe, many sections wouldn’t have been half as potent. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Apollo’s Fire makes vibrant case for Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in holiday canon," 17 Dec. 2019 Frey joked—the phantom bells ring again, with distant thumps of timpani underneath. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Otherworldly Minimalism of Jürg Frey," 29 Oct. 2019 Then there’s the expressive, gifted and animated Ray Cooper, an off-and-on member of his band since 1971, on congas, timpani, bells and tambourine. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland, "Elton John’s second farewell tour stop in Cleveland shows why he’s still standing after all these years," 12 Nov. 2019 The holdup, Brault said, is that the Christmas Oratorio is a large and daunting work that calls not only for chorus and vocalists but also for oboe d’amore and da caccia as well as trumpets and timpani. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Apollo’s Fire takes holiday road less traveled with Bach’s Christmas Oratorio," 4 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'timpani.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of timpani

circa 1854, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for timpani

Italian, plural of timpano kettledrum, from Latin tympanum drum — more at tympanum

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The first known use of timpani was circa 1854

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Cite this Entry

“Timpani.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/timpani. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce timpani (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of timpani

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on timpani

Spanish Central: Translation of timpani

Nglish: Translation of timpani for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about timpani

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