Help! Timp solo in Diversions on a bass theme

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Matt the Shed, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. Matt the Shed

    Matt the Shed Member

    Hi guys. Pretty specific question regarding the first section finals test piece timp part - hope someone can offer some advice - brass players hit the back button and choose a different thread quick!

    I'm desperately trying to get some advice on mallet selection for the solo passage for Diversions on a bass theme. For the last few weeks I've been playing with a large heavy wood core to get some power out of the beasties so I can project over the band, but in tonights rehearsal I was basically asked (by someone that quite Frankly knows a ton more than me) to use something less brutal. I'm not the most experience timp player (and could quite honestly do with a few lessons), but am keen to create a decent sound, especially through this solo passage. Obviously quite a bit of this is down to technique, but with only a couple of weeks I need some help! With a limited mallet selection I went for a smaller cork core pair (which unfortunately only has a couple of mm of felt) and I felt they sounded harsh.

    Any timp hitters out there got any advice specifically for this passage? What are t'other timp players using for this passage?

  2. fartycat

    fartycat Member

    Three things to take into account -

    1) your sticks will sound less harsh the further away someone is from the timps. Therefore it is quite often tricky to pick the right selection that works in the bandroom for your conductor but that also works in the venue for the audience. I often play with lighter sticks (Sean Hooper) in the bandroom and heavier sticks out (Morbey).

    2) The acoustic of the venue also plays a huge part in stick selection. I've not played at Harrogate but am led to believe that it has a similar acoustic to the Riviera centre in Torquay (aka totally dead). Dead venues can take softer and larger stick selections, for a more lively acoustics use smaller harder sticks.

    3) The timpani themselves - the size and make of the drums also makes a huge difference. Large and well made drums can take a larger core. But play large core sticks on a Premier concert or an Adams universal and you will probably overplay the drum at loud dynamics. Does Ray Payne supply the perc for Harrogate? If so then you'll be playing his lovely Majestic drums which are nice and large and can therefore take a larger core.

    Hope that helps!
  3. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    I think our timpist is using "Chalklin hard" beaters which seem to have a firm core with a softer outer.They seem to give what she wants without the risk of damaging the head of the drum.

    How are people getting on with the snare solo?
  4. sooze booze

    sooze booze Member

    Our chap's getting on very well with his!!
  5. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    Piece ov cake ha ha ha :biggrin:
  6. Mr_Euniverse

    Mr_Euniverse Member

    Don't be surprised if the "Best Instrumentalist" prize goes to a snare drum player! huge lack of solos makes me not like this piece!

    Our snarist won it when we played this piece, donkey's years ago!
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Interesting! It's exactly the same with trombones (and I assume all instruments, I suppose) - when you want to project you need to sound a bit nastier close up than you would want the audience to hear, because the nastiness doesn't carry as well as the niceness. Something about the energy distribution over the harmonics vs how apparent different pitches are to the ear, I suspect.
  8. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Some of us just sound nasty all the time, however far away the audience is....;)
  9. Matt the Shed

    Matt the Shed Member

    Cheers guys.

    That does help and pretty much confirms what I thought, hence I decided to go for the larger, heavier core from the outset. Assuming we looking at Mr Payne's lovely large copper majestics and the hall is large and dead, I think my selection makes sence. The problem is that we rehearse in a lively accoustic on small and rather nasty premier fibreglass timps with clear plastic heads, where (from my understanding) a smaller cork core is probably more suited.

    Basically, I won't know until I get on stage and as a less experienced player will be pretty nervous about selecting my mallets 5 minutes into the piece... Do I stick to my guns, or change? Perhaps I'm just over-thinking this.
  10. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    The old addage "Never change horses in mid stream" comes to mind here in so much as if you decide to change sticks on the day there is the possibility that you could throw your timing out during the solo.
    If the timps prove to be good quality on the day then I would have thought that the sticks you are using now will still give a good enough sound to cut through.

    This is only my oppinion and I am not a tuned percussionist by any stretch of the imagination,but I wouldn't change sticks at such a late stage unless I had no choice.

    Good luck on the day.
  11. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Just keep in mind the ultimate goal should be to make Adam's ears bleed ...:evil: ;)
  12. Matt the Shed

    Matt the Shed Member

    Strange you should say that Gareth, because thats been my main aim for the past ten years... it's kindof shaped the my style of playing ;)
  13. Matt the Shed

    Matt the Shed Member

    To generalise this question a little bit, are there any resources out there to help percussionists like me with issues like this?

    Are there any websites that talk about technique and mallet choice for different scenarios? I know there is no substitute for a good teacher, but even then I'm sure different teachers have different ideas about these issues.

    Is there anywhere that talks about the acoustic characteristics of concert halls/venues to help out in situations where the player really doesn’t know what to expect?
  14. tsawyer

    tsawyer Member

    I've never found any information like that.

    I would recommend, if you have the means, getting hold of some David Morbey sticks. They're about £70 a pair, but in my view they make timps easier to play, and sound better. I mostly use a pair of 520s, with 530KKs for quiet stuff.

    If you email David Morbey with the kind of music you play, the kind of timps you play, and the kind of venues, he will recommend which of his sticks are appropriate.

  15. tsawyer

    tsawyer Member

    I'd also recommend working out what sticks you're going to use, and then sticking(!) with that choice for the last week before the contest. Get used to your timp changes and stick changes, and always do them at the same time. This helps you get into a rhythm so you know subconciously what you're doing next at a given point in the piece. Write cues on the music to help you remember what you're doing.

    The timps on stage will likely be different to the ones you rehearse on, so try and allow extra time for tunings if possible.

    If you can, keep a spare pair of sticks around on the trap tray just in case you throw one at the bass section like I did right at the start of Contest Music at the Grand Shield last year...

  16. sooze booze

    sooze booze Member

    Thanks for that reminder, I threw a stick near the end of a piece at Butlins once, thank God it didn't finish on a roll!! The timps provided on the day are Yamaha balanced action timps apparently, not the Majestics that Ray Payne usually provides. :guiness
  17. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    Ya dint throw it ard enuff duck, hees stil breethin HaHaHa :biggrin:
  18. Matt the Shed

    Matt the Shed Member

    so with the performance done I thought I'd just add a quick update with my thoughts...

    I decided for the solo line I'd go for a smaller and lighter wood core to play it a little bit safer than the heavy core, although switched between a few pairs (OK, 4 to be pedantic) throughout the piece, including a heavier wood core for some parts. From the stage it seemed to to work pretty well, but I got mixed comments from the adjudicators - one said "Fine timps" and the other said "timps could have more 'bite'". For me, the second comment suggests he wanted more attack at the front of the note, which I guess would mean a harder mallet with less felt, smaller core and possibly cork. However, when I listened to a couple of bands from the auditorium the timps sounded quiet with little tone and a very dead sound, which was really not what I was after... so what I wanted to hear from the middle of the auditorium seemed to differ from at least one of the adjudicators! If I had stuck to my guns and went for a heavier wood core, a second me in the auditorium would have been happy, but one of the adjudicators possibly wouldn't have been unless I've misread the remarks. From the auditorium, wow that hall is dead!!

    Listening to the recording on the coach on the way back from the hotel, it sounded completely different and I was pretty happy - but then again there were microphones a couple of feet away! Looking forward to getting my copy of the CD so I can have a proper listen...

    Anywho, I realise this is probably boring for most people on this forum, so sorry for that, however I'm trying to take in as much as I can so I can improve my playing.

    On another note, I'm pretty sure the supplied glock was the shiniest glock known to man. Every time I looked at it the stage lights were reflected into my eyes blinded me completely. Nice sound though!
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010

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