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20 Exercises for Pedal Timpani5 Backward Pieces for Xylophone or Marimba

44 Exercises for Pedal Timpani
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44 Exercises for Pedal Timpani

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Since the time of D’Indy and Richard Strauss, composers have been exploiting more and more extensively, the techniques of timpani pedalling. It is strange, therefore, that such a set of studies as this has not been published previously. This is not intended to denigrate other books of studies and tutor books, because all of the various viewpoints in them have something worthwhile to offer; rather, it is intended to go further into the specifics of rapid timpani pedalling and to provide, hopefully, a platform for further research and development in this area which, I might add, none of the classic tutors contains to a significant degree.

The material presented here is largely an outgrowth of some things that I have been asked to do on gigs and sessions over the years.

No metronome markings are included.  Start as slowly as you need to in order to get round each study, then work the speed up over successive playings to get as fast as possible. DO NOT GET FASTER WHILST PLAYING!

No stickings are included – do what seems most logical.

No dynamics are included. Play each exercise both soft and loud and with various hardnesses of sticks. When each etude is mastered, add your own dynamic shadings related to the most natural phrasing patterns in the piece.

When working on these studies, use the least number of drums possible. On a session one is seldom equipped with more than two drums, so that octave transpositions may need to be used. As an idea for further practice, try to play the etudes on two drums, then three, four and so on, ad infinitum! I think that this is a worthwhile exercise as it makes one work harder getting around the piece, and if one works up to seven, eight or nine drums (if such quantities are available!), it could save such bewilderment as I experienced the first time I encountered seven drums on a session.

Wherever possible, place each note in the centre range of the appropriate drum – e.g. A on a 28/29 inch drum, D on a 25/26 inch drum – so that the tone produced is as uniform as possible and it does not go from an excessively tight drum to a loose, flabby drum.

Make a special effort over intonation when you play these studies:  in present-day concert and session work, the timpanist is judged on this aspect of his/her playing more than anything else.

If you don’t have enough drums at your disposal, you can use each of these exercises as a study in thinking quickly and dare I say it, faking your way out of a difficult situation. If all else fails, use them as sight-singing studies against the time when you can apply them to the timpani.

© Copyright 2008 Nigel Shipway


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