Timpani Tuning Changes

Hello everyone! So, since there is harp pedal changes, I am wondering if it would be easy to implement timpani pedal changes? The main problem I can think of is that the pitches of 2 drums can cross over. For example the 32 inch drum and 29 inch drum both have (F) G,A,(Bb). So there will be some crossover.

Of course this is very easy to do with the text popover, but this feature can help younger composers maintain the pitches of each drum.

I am borrowing this image from orchestration online’s site

The decision on which timpani to use for which pitch is way more specific than the harp pedal system, especially because of the overlap but also because of the “butter zone” that each timp has and also different numbers of timpani. I don’t think an automated tool like the harp pedal change system in current Dorico can take into account all the decisions necessary but I would appreciate an integrated tool to “manually” set up a timpani set and track pitches and needed retunings.

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In order for this to have the same sort of usefulness of the harp pedal tuning, it would require the Dorico to define at least 9 different timpano drums to cover the two most common sets (20", 22.5", 23", 25", 26", 28", 29", 30", 32") each with their associated range, then allow any combination of them to be added to a percussion kit (or possibly treated like strings on a guitar).

This in would be a great addtion in many ways:

  • Specific sizes could easily be included in instrumentation lists.
  • Easier to make sure the part works on a certain set of Timpani (particularly useful when writing for school or theare pit orchestras).
  • Automatic labeling of initial pitches and changes, etc.
  • If handled like a guitar, the changes under the hood would go a part-way to allowing for mid-flow scordatura in string instruments.

but it also comes with a number of downsides or open questions:

  • Would require defining “standard” kits for 2,3,4 and 5 drum configurations (ideally for both International 23/26/29/32/20 and Premier sizes 22.5/25/28/30/32).
  • Front-loads this decision on the composer
  • Would it make more sense to define a standard range that works for both (eg.) 22.5 and 23" drums, and give and make the “pro” range be the notes only achievable on one or the other?
  • Risks writing a part that can only be played on the composer’s chosen sizes, requiring the ensemble to hire missing sizes or the timpanist having to compensate with more frequent pedal changes.
  • Risks writing a part that that’s technically playable, but still sound awful if certain drums are tuned too high/low, again resulting in more frequent pedal changes.
  • Could make entering timpani parts much more difficult depending on implementation.
  • The resulting pitch diagram(s) would have to be aware of the number of drums in the set, and be flippable to allow for both International (Low-High) and Germanic (High-Low) layouts .
  • Would be a nightmare to get VSTs to play nicely with.
  • Should roto-toms (which are often used to extend the timpani range upwards) be included? If so, which sizes?
  • If roto-toms are included, should they be allowed to be retuned mid-flow or be treated as fixed like the harp’s low C/low D/high G strings? How would they appear in pitch diagrams?
  • If handled using percussion kits, should it be possible to treat the timp as unpitched instrument?
  • If handled like a guitar, it would need to be prevented from displaying in TAB.
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