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Use the tabs below to find out about each section of the orchestra, watch video clips, and read interviews with musicians.

What is a percussion instrument? Well, in the simplest terms it's something you hit that isn't your brother or sister! This group of instruments is sometimes known as the kitchen department.

The timpani, or kettledrums, are a percussion instrument, but they always have a special part written for them.

They are made from parchment or skin which is stretched across enormous copper bowls and then hit with a stick. Each drum is tuned to a different note but modern timpani can change notes after being hit, by using a foot pedal.

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Meet the orchestra

Paul Turner, Timpani
BBC Philharmonic

  • How old were you when you first started playing?
    I started playing the drum kit when I was eleven and the timps and percussion when I was fourteen/fifteen.

  • Why did you choose this instrument specially?
    I vividly remember playing the opening of Brahms' 2nd Symphony and thinking, "Wow – this is for me!"

  • Do you play any other instruments?
    Yes - I still play kit and percussion - and the piano (not very well).

  • What do you like most about playing in an orchestra? Is it fun?
    Being part of a team, you are able to experience some fantastic moments of music making. Orchestral tours can be great fun too.

  • Do you play any other kinds of music?
    Yes - I love playing jazz. I have also played in some West End shows.

  • What's your favourite music?
    I love all music that is well written. In classical terms my favourite composers are Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss, Stravinsky and Wagner

  • Do you have any hobbies? What are they?
    Swimming, football, cars, vintage drums/timpani.

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