Definition of timpani in English:


(also tympani)

plural noun

  • Kettledrums, especially when played by one musician in an orchestra.

    • ‘The sound is still aggressive, but it's more orchestrated, so the other two musicians just play timpani and a couple songs with just drums and guitar, respectively.’
    • ‘Maximum flexibility also allows space for drama; different sized musical instruments such as handbells, pianos, drum sets, bongos and tympani; choirs and singing groups of various sizes; or for nonworship purposes.’
    • ‘It therefore follows the example of Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano in being scored for an accompanying wind ensemble plus double bass and timpani rather than orchestra.’
    • ‘Orchestras have been told to tame the timpani and cap their crescendos to protect the hearing of musicians and classical music lovers.’
    • ‘But drums played little part in concerted music until the introduction of timpani into the orchestra in the second half of the 17th century.’
    • ‘Not knowing which of them wrote what, I can only report that the pit contained two cellos, one double-bass, solo woodwind, brass and timpani.’
    • ‘You can tell without hesitation the concerto starting with a timpani roll leading to striking piano chords.’
    • ‘After school I went to orchestra and did the timpani in both the Radetzky march, and the three Greig pieces.’
    • ‘As another commentator has noted, only Jason Pierce could produce an album with 11 brass and string musicians, timpani, a dulcimer and sleigh bells, and call it back to basics.’
    • ‘The bass is much deeper and richer, the timpani have been brought forth from the orchestral fabric, and the whole thing now has a presence, a pulse that it lacked before.’
    • ‘There is some lovely playing, particularly from the woodwinds, but the horns, timpani and bass line are too recessed to have the necessary impact.’
    • ‘The orchestra follows with a suggestion of the Dies Irae in the tympani as the music reaches a climax that is followed by the quiet, concluding statement of the solo violin.’
    • ‘The concerto for 2 trumpets and timpani impresses me the most of the works on the program.’
    • ‘Each man was surrounded by an absolute armada of percussion: Bongos, congas, sambas and tom toms; high-hats, kettles, timpani and snares.’
    • ‘Sure, it had a fine array of percussion - timpani, snare drum, bass drum, gong, glockenspiel - but they were just there for effect.’
    • ‘Where the hell are the timpani in the Philadelphia Orchestra?’
    • ‘And so, when he uses the timpani in the Third Symphony, he does so in a judicious manner so that the ‘stressing of focal pitch classes’ is communicated in as comprehensive and explicit way possible.’
    • ‘An interlude of steel drum, tympani, and bongo injected a decidedly powerful tribal element to the experience.’
    • ‘Along with the chorus, there are four pianos, tympani, and a fascinating assortment of percussion instruments - xylophone, crotales, bell, snare drum, side drum, bass drum, tambourine, cymbals and triangle.’
    • ‘Concertos for the timpani or kettledrums, the big boys of the orchestra, are certainly unusual but not entirely neglected.’


Late 19th century: from Italian, plural of timpano ‘kettledrum’, from Latin tympanum ‘drum’ (see tympanum).