Timpani in D

I just need a little reminder how to input a simple ‘Timpani in D’ part.
The key of the piece is in D.
One timp is tuned to D, the other one to A.
I would like to notate the Timpani in bass clef with C and G.
I could set up a Horn in D (no key signature) and change the name to Timpani in D and the clef to bass clef?
But I am sure there is a better way in Dorico. I must be thinking too complicated…

Timpani are never transposed. The phrase “Timpani in D, A” (you won’t see just “Timpani in D” unless there is only one timpano) simply means that the timpani are (initially) tuned to D and A (or, in most cases, to d and A, if you want to be more precise).

This is a holdover from the times when it was impossible to re-tune timpani during a performance.

So simply write the part for “Timpani”. You can (as a service welcomed by timpani players) add a System Text stating “in d, A” above the first bar, but that’s not necessary.

My instrumental parts for Novello’s edition of Messiah and Baerenreiter’s B minor mass are both transposed in D: written on C and G with no key sig, and “in D A” written at the start.

I presume the OP wants to do the same.

yes, please :slight_smile:

and this is not what I want:

I could just shift all the notes down, but how do I create a transposing instrument ‘Timpani in D’ the right way?

Doesn’t it say Timpany in Do, not D?
Nah, probably just a fancy D.


Does this work?
Timpani in D.zip (258 KB)

er um, that may be the wrong octave. Try this.
Timpani in D.zip (258 KB)

Thank you Craig, this works.
Which route did you go, how did you set it up?

I exported to an XML and added the “transpose” tag after the clef definition. Then, opened the XML in Dorico.

<clef number="1">

uuh, very clever :nerd_face: , thank you again!
Without hacking the music.xml file one could also setup a horn in D no keys, change the name and add a bass clef.
Then adjust playback to timpani…

It may be very clever. But why is such a dodge necessary?


You’re welcome :slight_smile:

If renaming a Horn, Dorico will internally still think of it as a Horn and not as a percussion instrument. This could affect things like grouping. Maybe some other stuff too, not sure.

Because, as things stand, Dorico doesn’t yet have functionality for editing the built-in instruments.

Just a point of curiosity, why would anybody want to write music using archaic conventions that would probably just confuse the musicians?

You can say that about a great deal of music notation. If not all of it. :laughing:

I’d say it’s a well-known convention amongst timpanists who do Historically Informed Performance. Whether there’s any virtue in writing it at concert pitch is a bigger issue. Would you do the same with a Trumpet in D part?

And in these discussions, the “why” isn’t nearly as important as the “how.”

As timp parts that use this convention only require two pitches, nobody is likely to get confused! :slight_smile:


If I already had a pert in D, then I wouldn’t do anything, because … I already have a part. But if the goal was to make it cleaner and more readable, I would engrave it as C trumpet.

I do realize there may be some purists who would insist on the original – and there might even be somebody somewhere that actually wanted to play that with a D trumpet. I do appreciate that one tries to please one’s clients.

If a part is written for “D Timp”, chances are good that it will have only D and A, so I guess most timpanists can cope with that. But if not explicitly instructed, I would write it with no transposition, as that is what 99% of the time music is going to look like and that will be one less faux pas to slow down a rehearsal.

Your optimism is an inspiration to me. :slight_smile:

If it proves to be confusing, take a Sharpie pen and write D on the back of the player’s right hand and A on the left.

Why does a modern horn player (of our time) has to learn to play horn in F, horn in D, horn in E … and so on?
Because when that music was written, his ‘colleague’ just had to change the crooks of his instrument and not think too much (horn playing was difficult enough in those days I guess). Very pragmatic
Please correct me, if there are horn players around here.