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Topic: Timpani rolls

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  1. #1

    Timpani rolls

    Hi,

    How do you make timpani rolls the best way ?
    (I know GPO offers left and right hand).

    I use GPO with Sonar.

    Thanks

    Alex
    Windows XP. P4.
    Full GPO and CoMB.
    Finale 2008 and Sonar 7 PE.

    Mostly writing music for concert Band.
    Publishing his own work.
    http://www.alexandrecarlin.com/catalog

  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
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    West Seneca, NY
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    Re: Timpani rolls

    Hi,
    Being a percussionist, I actually hate doing any percussion or drum tracks with the keys on the keyboard. Interfaced to my system is a Roland SPD20 that I use to play in rhythms. If need be I can go in and tweak or quantize sections if something is off. You can always use step record method or the mouse to click in your notes in the score or piano roll.
    I am positive there are other useful methods others can share with you.
    Styxx

  3. #3

    Re: Timpani rolls

    I just bang away at the correct keys on the keyboard to create a realistic roll.
    I just finished the timpani track on the theme from Jurassic Park and noticed how sharp the timpani samples are in GPO, however this is not a probelm since we have the option of tuning the instrument. I set the tuning to -12 on the Kontakt player for that instrument. Although that setting does not make all of the samples absolutely correct, it makes most of them closer in tune with A440 being used as a reference.
    Please bear with me for this next part. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear timpanis that are way too sharp in professional concerts and recordings. Here is my theory that I came up with years ago using only common sense. When I watch a timpany player tune the drum, they are bent over with their ear real close to the drum head, and they tune with their finger very quietly as to not interfere with the rest of the music. This is where I believe the problem is. When a mallet strikes the head of the drum, the internal volume (space) is less, (hmmm? a smaller drum). Smaller drums typically create higher pitches. If the timpani needs to be "in tune", then the player should tune the head slightly flat, so that when the drum is struck hard, the pitch is right on. Please forgive me for what appears to be sarcasm here, but this is the first time I have been able to vent my feelings about this continuing annoying dilema with timpanis, well.....most of the time.
    I want to apologize to all the percussionists out there, but if you are aware of this phenomenon, then it shouldn't offend you, because not all timpanis are sharp when I hear them. Ultimately if you do teach, and you teach percussion, then this is something that your students should be made aware of. The sad thing about this problem and why I believe it is not going to go away any time soon, is that teachers are not teaching this element of tuning.

    I'm done ranting
    Dan

  4. #4

    Re: Timpani rolls

    Hi Dan,

    You're right about the quiet tuning tending towards sharpness, but it isn't because the volume of the drum is smaller when playing loudly, it's because the head is momentarily stretched tighter when playing loud passages. This is not much of a problem if the head is already stretched tightly, say an E-natural on the 26" drum, but becomes very noticeable on a loose head played very loudly, e.g. the G-natural on the 29" drum.

    I find the GPO timps to be about 20 cents sharp overall, but it varies with the note/sample. Instead of dropping the timps an octave to halve the tuning error, you might want to consider using the pitch bend controller to drop the samples into tune instead.

  5. #5

    Re: Timpani rolls

    instead of dropping the timps an octave to halve the tuning error, you might want to consider using the pitch bend controller to drop the samples into tune instead.
    I'm confused by your statement, but curious
    "dropping the timps and octave to halve the tuning error?
    I didn't drop the timps an octave....
    I considered the pitch bend, but it's faster on the Kontakt player to just set it and forget it, you know like Ronnco
    Of course the beauty of the pitch bend is that each individual note can be altered to exact tune, but that's not that important to me, unless one of the notes is way off, it would simply take too long. You have to admit, part of GPO's beauty is that it allows the user to make music pretty fast.
    I assumed that the sharpness of pitch was created by the internal volume being ever so slightly smaller, creating a higher pitch,,,, no? Of course a loose head would be more prone to out of tune notes, yes?
    Remember, I was just using common sense, but that doesn't always prove to be right
    Dan

  6. #6

    Re: Timpani rolls

    When you said -12 in the Kontakt player, I thought you meant 12 semitones (i.e., an octave)...never mind

    The volume of a drum's air cavity (if any) has zero to do with its pitch, though an air cavity will create resonance waves if the cavity is partially enclosed (e.g., bongoes) or fully enclosed (e.g., timpani). It's the size of the head on the drum and the tightness of the head that determines pitch. For an extreme example, rototoms have no air cavity at all (rototoms have no shell, either closed or open), but they vary in pitch over a two octave range by simply rotating/tightening the head. Bigger rototoms have a lower fundamental due to a larger head, and smaller ones have a higher fundamental due to a smaller head.

  7. #7

    Re: Timpani rolls

    Darwin, I believe you are correct and that makes sense, however, a big bass drum in an orchestra would not sound the way it does without the drum cavity. In other words, a smaller drum could be tuned to the same note, but the larger of the two will sound much deeper even though the pitch is the same. I think of it like this... 30 hz is 30 hz. That is approximately a full octave above a low "C" on a pipe organ pedal. This note can be heard on a 3" speaker as well as a 30" speaker, but the 30" speaker will more faithfully (reproduce) the fundamental as opposed to the harmonics, simply because it can move more air. If it weren't for harmonics, we would never even hear the 30 hz note on the 3" speaker.
    I agree with you, it is largely due to the tuning of the head.
    So do you suppose that timpanis are almost always flat because they are tuned quietly?
    Just for fun, this is a picture of a 30" Electro Voice speaker that I use for special effects on remote location sound jobs, earthquake rumble, thunder, pipe organ notes, this amazing speaker is flat from around 24 hz down to 11 hz where is starts to drop off. You have no idea what 20 hz sounds,, feels like, AWESOME! It makes all my double 18" sound like a joke.
    Sorry dial up users,,, this is a large file, I mean speaker

  8. #8
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    Re: Timpani rolls

    (Warning: take-off on a Chinese restaurant joke ahead): With three you get timpani rolls!

    But serious folks (apologies to Styxx for indulging in the humor department for a bit): The IRC discussion hit on a notion for timpani rolls a few weeks ago, which was to have a "timpani roll" set and let the Mod Wheel (or other similar control device) dictate the speed of the roll. Although I am primarily a keyboard kind of guy, I actually played timpani years ago and while I was confortable with playing rolls, I find the GPO approach (of left and right fingers two octaves apart) to be fine, too.

    I'm glad to understand the tuning question, though. I thought my ears were tricking me. Someone could write a fairly large tome on the use of Var 1, Var 2 and the "Tune" control.

    Learning every day ... KevinKauai

  9. #9

    Re: Timpani rolls

    Dan,

    That EV is something else. I never knew cone woofers could be that large! Years ago I owned a pair of Altec 15" duplex drivers (where the horn is embedded at the center of a 15" woofer) that sounded amazing. There's nothing like bass that "gets physical".

    Interestingly, a bass drum struck with the mallet vibrates exactly like a large woofer in motion. A head that is somewhat smaller than a bass drum's head might reproduce the same pitch, but the bass drum sounds the way that it does because the heads and cavity resonate the pitch. Think of it sort of like a bass transducer mounted in a speaker cabinet. No cabinet, and the speaker will still reproduce the pitch, but will sound very thin. Furthermore, there is an opposite head is in sympathetic motion on the concert bass drum. The opposite head is usually tuned slightly higher or lower than the batter head, causing both another frequency vibrating and creating a very low difference frequency between the two heads. This gives the concert bass drum that very low, rather indistinct pitch we all know and love.

    Yes, timpani can well end up sounding sharp because they are tuned quietly with almost no pressure on the head. Again, it depends on what pitch is being played on what drum, and the force with which the upcoming notes are played. You can see the exact same effect with the toms on a drum set. Many drummers spend hours trying to get their toms to "scoop" the pitch just right when struck hard. The trick is to tune them a little flabby. Then when they are stuck hard, the impact of the stick momentarily raises the pitch, which then immediately falls off, producing a sort of "dooonnhhh" sound.

    Also, sometimes the timpanist just can't get the pitch right...the pedals are sticky or jerky (or the whole tuning mechanism slips) or the drums haven't been acclimated to the room yet (cold and they start flat and keep changing until their temperature is normalized, hot, vice-versa). Certain timps have discrete lock points as the pedal is moved up or down, which sometimes cause the the head to be locked slightly sharp or flat. In this design, there is usually a fine tune mechanism to compensate, but it does the timpanist little good if he needs to change pitches quickly and then play that note for several measures. Also, if calf heads are being used, the drums will play flat if the head (or the room) is humid, and will constantly change until the humidity in the room and in the heads have equalized.

    Come to think of it, I'm surprised timpani can be played in tune at all.

  10. #10

    Re: Timpani rolls

    Hi guys,

    I must say that my first post was to ask how you made timpani rolls ?
    I meant in what speed you rolled, for example.
    In a mesure with a four-beat note, how many midi events do you insert.
    how many notes do you play.
    Do you play them the same way, or some have more velocity ?

    And last question : Do you use ModWheel ?

    Thanks
    Alex
    Windows XP. P4.
    Full GPO and CoMB.
    Finale 2008 and Sonar 7 PE.

    Mostly writing music for concert Band.
    Publishing his own work.
    http://www.alexandrecarlin.com/catalog

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