It is necessary to dampen the sound of the timpani at the end of a piece or because of a rest. The length of the note that you play is determined by when you dampen.
For example, if the note written in the music is a half note (two beats in length) you dampen or silence the sound of the timpano on the third beat. If the length of the note is a quarter note then you dampen on the second beat and so on. To dampen the timpani drum you use your fingers by rolling or sliding your fingers across the head.
Watch Me Demonstrate in the Video Lessons: How to Dampen Timpani
Remember: Try Not to Make Noise When Dampening Your Timpani
You should avoid making too much sound when you dampen, but some sound is unavoidable and usually is unnoticeable. The easiest way to dampen is to use the opposite hand that you just played with. For example if you play a note with your right hand dampen the drum with your left or vice versa.
You can also dampen the drum with the same hand that just played, so if you play a note with your right hand you dampen with your right and vice versa. The ability to do the latter is very important especially for playing passages that require you to play on two different drums.
Dampen Timpani to Create Legato Sound
You can also create a nice legato or smooth sounding musical phrase by dampening one note while playing the next. This technique is a little bit tricky, but with careful practice you’ll get it. Do this exercise; play quarter notes with your right hand playing the high drum and your left hand playing the low drum.
When you strike the high drum with your right hand stick your left hand fingers slide onto the left hand drum to silence the sound. Then you play a note with your left hand stick while at the same time you silence the right hand drum with your right hand fingers.
It’s a little bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time, but after a bit of practice you’ll get it.
What’s the Main Thing to Keep in Mind When You Dampen Timpani?
So remember, whether you use the same hand or the opposite hand to dampen the drum roll or slide your fingers on to the drum to silence the sound. It is common that you must dampen more than one drum at the same time. So, if you have played a passage that has included all of your drums silence the last drums played first then move your hands quickly to the other drums to silence them.