Adrian Bending
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Saint Saens timpani – January 2023

Saint Saens concert January 2023

with our extra timpanists for ‘Phaeton’ Florie Fazio and Tom Hunter


And the debut of my strohfiedel!


YouTube channel

Please visit my YouTube channel to watch films about all sorts of things…


Translation work

Cheap storage unit for rent – must be sorted by the end of March 2023

Shurgard, Purley Way, Croydon (oppostie IKEA)

Ground floor. 160 square feet. £200/month (inc. £10k insurance). Access hours 0600-2300

contact Miranda Allen

Co-directing the Rameau film at Acland Burghley


Sheet music for orchestral excerpts

Turn of the Screw page 1


Turn of the Screw page 2





Figaro Overture


Janacek ‘Intrada’


Nocturne p1


Nocturne p2

Lefima hand-tuned timpani – SOLD


A pair of Lefima hand-tuned timpani. Sizes 23″ & 25″.  Lefima wooden trestles included

These drums were previously owned by Janos Keszei

Offers in the region of £4000

Contact Dan Gresson +44 (0)7973 120165

Located in Ashtead, Surrey

Yamaha marimba

Yamaha 4.5 Octave Intermediate Acoustalon Multi-Frame II Marimba

Practice instrument so hardly ever dismantled hence in immaculate condition

Offers in the region of £3000

Contact Tom Pritchard +31643813134 or Sarah Heartfield +44 (0)7876 345872

Located in Manchester or Yorkshire

Ludwig Universal timpani

25″ & 28″ Ludwig Universal timpani

With discs and covers

Offers in the region of £2200

Contact Liz Barker

Located in Hook, Hampshire



Kolberg Rossmann timpani sticks

These sticks are all ‘as new’.  Please contact Adrian Bending  Try before you buy if near London, otherwise postage charges apply.  Each pair is £100 inc. VAT.


















Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum

14″ x 5.5″.  Immaculate condition.  Grover snare mechanism added. Silk and wire snares.

Contact Adrian Bending


Timpani stands

Timpani stands.  Length approx 90cm.  These stands are capable of huge height differences and are therefore suitable for seated or standing playing with all kinds of timpani.  Sapele wood with rubber covering.

£100 + VAT each. Contact Adrian Bending

Le Blond cases for 2, 3 or 4 stands are in stock.  Please contact me for options and prices.


Short Lefima timpani stands

Short Lefima timpani stands.  Suitable for seated playing only. Some usage marks on the wood.  £150 inc VAT

Contact Adrian Bending


Bags for timpani stands.  £25 inc VAT.

Kolberg stick rake

As new.  Holder for 10 pairs of sticks.  Also fixes to any standard cymbal stand.  £120 inc. VAT.  Contact Adrian Bending


expert strohfiedel players

How I made a strohfiedel

Huge thanks are due to Pete Woods of for his advice and guidance with this project. Without this I am sure mistakes would have been made resulting in a less successful instrument!


I salvaged some notes from an old Leedy xylophone where the frame had broken beyond repair. We believe the notes are Honduras Rosewood.  This wood could be 150 years old.  The xylophone was probably made before 1930 and the wood would likely have been stored for many decades before it was decided what to make with it.


The first job is to establish which notes go in which rows.



The positions are marked for the eyelets that take the string.


It is very important that the notes are kept parallel and equally spaced.


At this point the beech strips that the notes rest on can be fixed in position. Thanks to for supplying this excellent beech crucially cut precisely to size.


Originally the notes would have been laid on straw, but we figured rubber tubing would work just as well and be much easier to work with. The tubing is not mounted in a straight line because the holes drilled in the notes do not line up with each other. This is because the holes were drilled for mounting the notes in the modern piano keyboard layout and so they are not in the ideal positions for mounting the notes in this way.


Finally cutting the board to a more manageable size.


Sanding the edges and rounding the corners a little.


A couple of coats of varnish.


Cleaning the notes with white spirit. Water would soak into the wood and could cause problems.


Putting a tiny bit of wax on the notes helps this beautiful wood really shine!


The most time consuming and fiddly job; putting felt piano washers between all the notes and eyelets and stringing the entire instrument.


My strohfiedel is not a true copy because the instrument should have a few duplicate notes (see below). This is so that these important notes are available for both the left and right hands to play. A set of modern keyboard xylophone notes only has one of each note.



Strohfiedel debut at the Royal Festival Hall

Matt Dickinson in rehearsal at Blackheath.

with timpanists Florie Fazio and Tom Hunter who joined us for ‘Phaeton’.

Tea with Netty – OAE podcast


Article in ‘Classical Music’ magazine, August 2021


What exactly are these: old or new, big or small?

These timpani were popular in Britain at the start of the 20th century.  Here is a photo of Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra at the Queen’s Hall in 1911 just a year before their famous ground-breaking trip to New York. The timpani in the photo appear to be very similar indeed to my Hawkes drums.

These drums are hybrids.  Although smoother and slicker the tuning system uses essentially the same engineering as in Mozart’s time.

Hawkes early 20th Century timpani


Potters cavalry timpani

But surely what matters is what the drums sound like?  The major difference is that the bowls have been made deeper to increase the decay and maximum volume. Also permanent built-in legs have been added.

Hawkes early 20th Century timpani


Potters cavalry timpani

Unfortunately the collars remain small as per earlier drums but due to the volume of the kettle thinner heads work well providing a purer, more modern sound with longer decay.

And so although orchestration and timpani techniques had advanced significantly in 200 years, Elgar was restricted in his options to write harmonically (as timpani parts were becoming by 1900) due to the primitive tuning system.  In all his parts one can see where choices have had to be made where, for example, some notes were replaced by ‘less-than-ideal’ ones or left out altogether.  Something that one cannot say about all composers; Elgar certainly understood the limitations of the instruments at his disposal and his writing is still dramatic but intelligent to work within these immovable limits.

Not just limited by the tuning system Elgar most often seems to write as if the player only has three drums.  Although this is undoubtedly restricting there is one major and shrewd advantage in that writing for small, realistic forces means that your music is more likely to be played more often by amateur and youth orchestras.

The tuning changes in Elgar’s 1st Symphony are very similar in in speed and difficulty to the tricky quick changes Mozart writes in the Act II Finale of Cosi fan Tutte.

It is interesting to compare Elgar to what Richard Strauss was writing for timpani at the same time.

Probably inspired by the new fast-tuning single crank timpani, the writing in Strauss’ operas (including Salome, Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten) was radical and ambitious, the proof of that being that they are today still amongst the most technically challenging parts we have to play.

Utterly different to Elgar here the timpanist must find 12 different pitches in a section that lasts just a couple of minutes.  And another huge difference to Elgar; Strauss must surely have been aware that through his enormous orchestration (including such unusual instruments as the heckelphone) and fiendish technical demands that many of his larger works would only be performed by the largest and most elite orchestras and opera companies.

So… are these deep English hand-tuned timpani any good?  Well, some would quickly say no.  In some ways they are the worst of both worlds, definitely possessing the most primitive tuning system of all the available types of large-bowl timpani ruling out their use for certain repertoire as we see above.  Or to put it a completely different way; although the tuning system and relatively small collars suit earlier repertoire the bowls are far too big for smaller ensembles playing this music.

On the other hand, unless you are playing complicated tuning repertoire these timpani are perfectly good for most repertoire with a reasonably large orchestra.  Compared to pedal or single-crank drums they are much more portable and robust and very much more affordable.  With the use of small gels in the middle of the heads some excess decay can be taken away for smaller ensembles playing earlier repertoire and/or when playing in big acoustics. Due the need to match the resonance of the bowl with the resonance of the head (note; the small collar is ‘out of sync’ with this), this explains the need (as I said earlier) to use thin modern heads.  And so while gels reduce decay and volume and clever stick choices can be made, deep drums with thin heads can never achieve a proper baroque or classical attack or sound.

BBC Radio 3 ‘Inside Music’

So enjoyable to be asked to devise two hours of radio and speak about some of my favourite music!  Huge thanks to Drew Leckie and Sam Phillips for being so brilliant, making me at ease and ensuring it all went smoothly.



video and photos

video and photos

The Evolution of Timpani Part 1: Introducing the Baroque Timpani



You can hear them in this Gabrieli Consort and Players recording of Bach’s Easter Oratorio and Magnificat.

Making the drone shot


machine timpani

I only have one of these in working order but 2-3 more to renovate.  While the mechanism is a clever invention it probably fell out of fashion due to being slightly fragile, and also rapidly superseded by pedal timpani.


Verdi Requiem (1886) OAE/Alsop BBC Proms 2016


Wagner Das Rheingold (1869) OAE/Rattle Baden Baden 2004




Wooden timpani

Obviously these drums are very unusual. The bowls are made of strips of quite thin wood rather like barrels and are therefore extremely light.  When played loudly the wood sometimes rattles and vibrates and so some work needs to be done on these drums to make them usable in performance.


video and audio



Bach Weihnachts Oratorium highlights with Gabrieli Consort & Players / McCreesh, November 2020


BBC Documentary: Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, Gabrieli Consort & Players / McCreesh


The Evolution of Timpani Part 1 Introducing the Baroque Timpani


video and audio

Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique with OAE and Sir Roger Norrington

2nd timpani Scott Bywater.  Percussion Glyn Matthews, Ben Hoffnung, Richard Horne.

In rehearsal:

In concert: Helsinki, 1 September 2013

1st Movement

2nd Movement

3rd Movement

4th Movement

5th Movement


Haydn “Paukenmesse”. BBC Proms 2015.


Hear these drums in Beethoven’s 4th & 7th symphonies with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields directed by Joshua Bell.Joshua-Bell-CD-cover


Here is a video about Gabrieli Consort and Players’ Grande Messe des Morts recording in 2010.  At 4′ 48″ I talk about sponge-headed sticks.


BBC Radio 3 ‘Composer of the Week’

It was hugely enjoyable and an enormous privilege to be asked to undertake research for this programme and talk at length with the wonderful Donald McLeod!


Article for Glyndebourne Festival programme book 2022

This article was written for the 2022 Glyndebourne Festival Opera programme book.  And I am very grateful to them for allowing me to show it here.

Rameau at Acland Burghley School

Click here to read my blog.




Making timpani videos

Timpani volume calculator

This programme was written by my brother!

Dr Thomas Bending, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Middlesex University

Watch this video to see how the programme works;

  1. Please note that this programme is for Windows only.
  2. Download and extract the DrumVolume.exe file to a folder on your computer somewhere. Your computer may advise you not to download programmes from an unknown source.  There’s not much I can do about this, apart from assure you there is nothing dangerous in this file!
  3. From ‘My Computer’ navigate to that folder and double-click on DrumVolume.exe. NB The application may take several seconds to start up.
  4. Click ‘Load image’ and choose an image of a drum. You can upload your own or use one of mine from the folder on this website.
  5. Click ‘Measure’ to calculate the size of the drum. The outline of the measured volume is shown in red.
  6. The ‘Pixels’ section shows the dimensions measured in pixels. If you enter the real diameter of the drum in the ‘Diameter’ field in the ‘Real units’ section then that section will show the real dimensions. You can measure in inches or centimetres, but just type the number in the ‘Diameter’ field: don’t include the unit.
  7. You can adjust the way that the image of the drum is analysed using the ‘Threshold’ slider. Any pixel that’s darker than the slider’s position counts as part of the drum, and any pixel that’s lighter does not.

Things to note;

  1. When you are measuring your timpani make sure you measure across the actual bowl, not the counterhoop.  This will make a huge difference and a false measurement will give you a wildly different result.
  2. It is worth measuring all timpani.  Even if they are advertised as 25″ they are probably a little less than that, and since the diameter you input is very important then it is worth getting this spot on.
  3. If you have a pair or set of timpani it is necessary to photograph them all.  It is interesting how and by how much different manufacturers give the larger drums a relatively smaller bowl so that the volumes are closer than they would be if the bowls were exactly the same proportions.
  4. If you’re taking photos of your own timpani; it is obviously better to take a photo of the bowl without the head and hoop on.  When you have taken the photo the more level you can adjust it to be the more accurate the results will be.  And where possible using the powerpoint and smart lasso techniques I talk about in the video, try to remove as many taps, legs etc as you can to improve accuracy.

PPP videos


Timpani purchase and conversion

Download the pdf article buying and refurbishing timpani

Here are some pictures of the step-by-step process of converting a deep, straight-sided timpani into a more conventional baroque or classical shaped drum.

1 (2)   2 - Copy (3)

Timpani arrive in all kinds of condition!  The original lacquer is removed.

3 (2)   4 (2)

Depending on the shape of the bowl, about 3-4″ of copper is removed.  The bowl is bathed in acid to get back to the bare copper.

6 (2)   5

Many bowls arrive needing patches to repair tears in the copper, usually around the old leg holes.

4.5 (2)   7 (2)

The copper needs to be annealed many times in order to re-shape it.  A wired edge is soldered in to form the new rim of the bowl.

8 (2)   9 (2)

The measurements are taken for the fittings.  Then, hours of patient polishing…..

10 (2)   CHR_7523 comp - Copy (2)

The end result is an “as new” baroque or classical timpani.  There are many variables to do with the cost of converting timpani.  Click here for my downloadable buying and refurbishing timpani document including costs of doing this.


Hawkes / Potter’s timpani – larger ensemble set up

Many of my period-style timpani are refurbished drums made in the early or middle part of the 20th Cenutury that started out being much deeper.  Hawkes are most commonly found, but there are many other makes such as Parsons, Besson, Boosey, Hards and Ajax.  If you go to the Information page you can see the step-by-step process undertaken by Pete Woods of Henry Potter’s.  The result is an ‘as new’ timpani with a conventional ‘half-round’ classical shape, or a more straight-sided baroque shape.  They vary in sizes from 22″ and 24″ as a pair with thick English calf heads for baroque music, up to a set of 4 (normally 22″, 24″, 26″, 27.5″) for classical repertoire.  I usually use goat heads on these late classical / romantic drums.


After (baroque shape)

After (classical shape)

Although there are limits on how much the shape of a bowl can be transformed, the photo below shows some of the different shapes that we are able to produce.  The classical shape is on the left, and the baroque on the right.  The baroque drum has straighter sides to increase the volume of the kettle.  This is important when you consider that sometimes you will need to play a G at baroque pitch of A=415 (effectively a ‘modern’ F#) on a 24″ drum.


2011-04-26 20.41.28

I use these timpani both in period-instrument groups and modern chamber orchestras.

You can hear them in Beethoven’s 4th and 7th symphonies  with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields directed  by Joshua Bell. Joshua-Bell-CD-cover

And in Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique with OAE and Sir Roger Norrington

In rehearsal:

In concert: Helsinki, 1 September 2013

2nd timpani Scott Bywater.  Percussion Glyn Matthews, Ben Hoffnung, Richard Horne.


1st Movement

2nd Movement

3rd Movement

4th Movement

5th Movement


vlad beet better




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