The origins of the Timpani
Tonal range and how the pitches are adjusted
What is the timpani's tonal range?
There is a difference depending on the size and model, but one timpani covers a range of about a sixth interval to one octave. The tension can be altered without limitation to specific increments using the tuning bolts, but care should be taken since going outside the specified range (see figure) may adversely affect the performance and sound of the instrument.
What is the purpose for using multiple timpani when performing?
Timpanists generally perform with anywhere from two to five drums placed together.
Timpani come in sizes of about 50 to 80 cm in diameter. The larger the drum, the lower the sound produced. There is a tonal range that is suitable for each size, and multiple drums are often used in order to create the best sound for the notes specified in the score. In recent years, timpani have been required to take on the role of a solo instrument, with more and more pieces requiring timpani sets of four drums or more.