"BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM!"There's something about those deep-sounding drums tuned to play specific notes (traditionally two notes a perfect fourth apart) that evokes a visceral reaction out of anyone who hears it. Expect any bit of music with timpani in it to be played for maximum drama value. For extra awesome, add an ever louder roll. Compare Drum Roll, Please. For the quiet version, see Heartbeat Soundtrack.
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Films — Animated
- In Make Mine Music, the hunters are represented by timpani.
Films — Live-Action
- Parodied in Spaceballs as Spaceball 1 is transformed into (BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM)...Mega Maid.: The dramatic timpani are played by an actual timpanist in the spaceship itself. And in case you thought that was a one-off gag, the timpanist is one of the evacuees when the Self-Destruct Mechanism is activated.
- In On the Waterfront, the soundtrack by Leonard Bernstein has the quiet title music followed by a pounding fugato for three drummers (though the third is actually on tuned drums rather than timpani).
- A New Hope features one during the trench run, as the technicians aboard the Death Star prepare to fire the Superlaser the second time.
- In Galaxy Quest, when Taggart is going back home for the first time and still doesn't realize it's all real, as the bay doors of the Protector 2 open and he sees the space vista, dramatic timpani music plays.
- The first half of the opening credits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (the half which has Fun with Subtitles) is accompanied by a piece of stock music called "Ice Floe No.9", dominated by pounding timpani and enigmatic xylophone which combines with the white text on black background to create an atmosphere deliberately at odds with the comedy subtitles and the typical Monty Python absurdism that follows.
- Parodied in Waiting for Guffman: the overture from "Red White And Blaine" features a dramatic timpani... but the dude who's playing it is also hitting an absurdly high trumpet note at the same time.
Live Action TV
- Used during the "Epic Fail" segment of Attack of the Show!.
- Formerly used at the start of the Bonus Round on Wheel of Fortune...
- ...and at the start of Jeopardy! when Art Fleming was host.
- Used after the opening of Concentration, and before contestant introductions.
- The infamous Viacom "V of Doom", combined with the synth piano and and quickly zooming in Viacom V logo, freaked people out.
- Used, and called for ("TIMPANI!), in the yearly MDA Telethon when updating the large display showing the amount pledged, at least some years.
- Get Smart would do a slow version of this during suspenseful moments.
- Richard Strauss's "Also sprach Zarathustra" features this in its famous opening, "Sunrise." It never recurs in the remaining half-hour of the work.
- Gustav Mahler was well-known for writing spectacular timpani flourishes into his symphonies:
- Symphonies Nos. 1 (first movement), 5 (first and second movements) and 6 (first movement) all provide dramatic timpani to increase excitement at climactic moments.
- The finale of Symphony No. 3 has the final cadence underlined by two timpanists pounding out "not with brute force—full, noble tones."
- The finale of Symphony No. 7 begins with a bravura flourish played on four timpani.
- A minimalistic but attention-getting timpani volley opens the third movement of Symphony No. 2.
- The first measure of Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor features a timpani roll that goes from near silence to near deafening to herald a massive chord from both the pianist and the full orchestra.
- Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4 (The Inextinguishable) ends with a duel between two timpanists, placed at opposite sides of the orchestra. Yes, that is as spectacular as it sounds...
- The fourth movement of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony #5 in D Minor starts and finishes with timpani solos.
- The "Tuba mirum" in Hector Berlioz's Grande Messe des morts (the French title for the Requiem mass) and Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem" has loud fanfares accompanied by overpowering drum rolls. "Be slowly lifted up" in the War Requiem is accompanied by timpani volleys played on three drums.
- Havergal Brian's "Gothic" Symphony begins with a short crescendo leading to a loud outburst from two timpanists. The timpani motif recurs at various points, particularly in "Judex crederis esse venturus," where each of the four additional brass bands comes online accompanied by its own half-chorus and its own dramatic timpanist, and in "Non confundar in aeternum," whose two massive crescendos are launched by the six timpanists.
- In Peter and the Wolf, when the hunters enter, there are intermittent menacing timpani outbursts, representing their gunfire.
- Ringo Starr plays a very attention-getting timpani in The Beatles' "Every Little Thing".
- In Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, Variation VII (Troyte) begins with a dramatic timpani crescendo played on three drums.
- The opening chorus of Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio, "Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage",note begins with an emphatic passage for solo timpani, occasionally punctuated by the basso continuo instruments. (The chorus was originally written as the opening chorus of the secular cantata Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!, or "Resound, ye drums! Ring out, ye trumpets!" - so the drums, and shortly thereafter the trumpets, do as they are told.)
- In Aaron Copland's Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, the timpani pounding out the work's motto theme in the final movement would be more impressive were they not overshadowed by the organ playing at full power.
- In his ballet "Billy The Kid," the timpani are used to depict the sounds of a gun battle.
- In the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, when the main subject returns after the development, it comes as a massive storm in the orchestra, with the timpani in particular hammering away long after the point when you think they could have stopped. The musicologist Susan McClary famously described this passage as having "the throttling murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release", although she toned it down when she published the same paper in her book Feminine Endings, by which time she'd received a shit-storm of abuse from people who were under the impression that she was comparing Beethoven to a rapist.
- In the Scherzo of the same symphony, the timpani are tuned an octave apart from each other (an unconventional tuning, but also used in the finale of Symphony No. 8). The Scherzo's main theme begins with a descending octave, which the timpanist gets to play loud and unaccompanied several times.
- The opening drum roll in "Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me)" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
- The first bar of George Gershwin's "Concerto in F" is a three-timpani flourish that forms half of the percussive ostinato of the opening section and becomes a recurring motif thereafter.
- Featured in the "Baccanele" from Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah.
- In Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," the timpani get to lead the percussion section in their variation on Henry Purcell's theme after each of the wind, string and brass instruments have had their turn.
- The faster, even-numbered movements of Béla Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta have some fairly dramatic bits for timpani, particularly the recapitulation in the second movement.
- "Uranus" from The Planets by Gustav Holst has a principal motif consisting of four well-spaced notes (G, D♯, high A, low B). Naturally, one of the timpanists has four drums tuned to those pitches, and often plays them loudly in rapid succession.
- American Top 40: Used before Casey Kasem announced the No. 1 song of the week. A longer one was often used on the year-end countdowns or if the week's No. 1 song hit a milestone.
- American Country Countdown: To a lesser extent than sister program AT40, as host Bob Kingsley would use it only on the year-end countdown programs before naming the No. 1 country song of the year. Kingsley has carried the timpani roll over to year-end Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 programs.
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Miles Gloriosus enters the scene to dramatic timpani flourishes; in most showings, his entourage reflects this by having several drummers.
- In Der Ring des Nibelungen, the Giants' Leitmotif is accompanied by pounding timpani at their forceful first entrance in Das Rheingold. The timpani motif stays with Fafner after he becomes a dragon, with the interval altered from a perfect fourth to a tritone.
- In Peter Grimes, the first part of Act I's "Storm" interlude is underpinned by an incessantly pounding timpani part marked molto pesante (very heavy) in the score.
- MOTHER 3: present during the Final Boss battle with the Big Bad, Master Porky's Theme
- Quite a bit of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack, especially the opening theme and the battle against Magus.
- Played with in Final Fantasy VI: The battle in the opera house against Ultros features a dramatic timpani...because the music is being provided by the orchestra.
- The rest of the soundtrack itself also has dramatic timpani in a few of the themes.
- Liberi Fatali, the opening theme of Final Fantasy VIII.
- Golden Sun: the music of Magma Rock features timpani very prominently.
- Paper Mario: Color Splash: Present whenever Fan (or a replica) is used.
- Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum: The battle theme of Arceus is composed mostly out of Timpani and snare sounds, with trumpets and base backing up at certain parts. The song itself, though, is a Missing Secret due to the fact that it only plays when you battle a wild Arceus, for which the item required to do encounter one was never distributed during the games' lifetime. The song itself, however, can still be heard in Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver via a event Arceus that really was distributed, but in those games, it invokes Long Song, Short Scene.
- All the battle themes in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (and, by extension, almost all the battle themes in Emerald) have a timpani accompanying the melody of the respective songs.
- The boss battles against Bowser in both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2.
- Pokémon Black and White:
- The battle between Reshiram and Zekrom has music that heavily features timpani.
- Also, the battle against Ghetsis.
- Same holds true for Pokemon Black 2 and White 2
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories: Dramatic timpani drumming accompanies the Rawshock chases during Nightmare sequences.
- Accompanies the one-up fanfare in Sonic the Hedgehog.