Evolution of timpani in the 18th and 19th centuries
The modern timpani evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries from the simple 12th-century membranophone of the Naker to a complex instrument, consisting of a suspended kettle with a foot operated clutch, capable of rapid tuning. The technological evolution of the instrument led to increased interest in its capabilities and sound among such composers as Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, and Hector Berlioz.Initially used only outdoors, the instrument underwent modifications in the 16th and 17th centuries that led to its incorporation into chamber ensembles. During the 18th and 19th centuries, modifications in its design and construction, and rising interest in the symphony orchestra led to changes not only to the ensemble's size, but also to composers' use of specific instruments within the orchestra.These new and challenging compositional demands influenced the design of the timpani, how timpanists play the instrument, and also helped to raise the standard of playing to a whole new level. The combination of composers' and players' interest in the timpani during the 18th and 19th centuries helped to make the instrument what it is today.