Mos Def raps while playing timpanis and wearing a Yomiuri Giants hat

I have always, always said that timpanis don’t get enough play in popular music, especially in live settings. I suppose that’s at least partly because they’re really expensive and a pain to transport, so you kind of have to be Mos Def or someone to pull it off.

One fun note about timpanis for those of you who haven’t spent way too many hours futzing around school band rooms: They are equipped with pedals on the bottom that adjust the tension of the drum head, changing the pitch. So if you do a roll on the timpani while slowly moving the pedal down with your foot, the pitch glides up like a glissando on the trombone.

I’m pretty sure a few modern composers actually call for the technique, but it’s strictly forbidden by angry band directors everywhere, especially when you’re not a percussionist and shouldn’t be anywhere near the expensive timpanis to begin with.

In a related story, New Orleans-based funk drummer Stanton Moore attaches a rubber hose to a tom-tom and blows air into it to create the same pitch-bending effect in drum solos. It’s awesome.

4 thoughts on “Mos Def raps while playing timpanis and wearing a Yomiuri Giants hat

    • Probably because terrestrial radio sucks, for the most part. I’m sure that’s market-driven, but it bothers me so much. There’s free music just sort of out there in the air, everywhere, and all we need is a really simple and inexpensive device to access it. But it sucks so much that we send satellites into space to transmit other music, and people pay for the right to listen to that music.

    • Yeah they do. I especially like their recent turn toward hip-hop and away from so much jamming, though they jam pretty funkily too.

      Moore’s solo stuff is fantastic, for what it’s worth. All Kooked Out is a tremendous album, and the cover of When the Levee Breaks on III is amazing.

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