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Timpani or kettledrums are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a membrane called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. Most modern timpani are pedal timpani and can be tuned quickly and accurately to specific pitches by skilled players through the use of a movable foot-pedal. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet. Timpani evolved from military drums to become a staple of the classical orchestra by the last third of the 18th century. Today, they are used in many types of ensembles, including concert bands, marching bands, orchestras, and even in some rock bands.

Timpani is an Italian plural, the singular of which is timpano. However, in English the term timpano is only widely in use by practitioners: several are more typically referred to collectively as kettledrums, timpani, temple drums, timp-toms, or timps. They are also often incorrectly termed timpanis. A musician who plays timpani is a timpanist.


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