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For Thanksgiving, the Other Kind of Drumsticks

A timpanist with Don Rico and his 16 Gypsy Girls, ca. 1932.
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A timpanist with Don Rico and his 16 Gypsy Girls, ca. 1932.

If it's Thanksgiving, it must be time for another musical pun from Miles Hoffman. Last year, the music commentator chewed on musical leftovers. Before that it was symphonic turkeys. He's even demonstrated the art of plucking. This year, Hoffman beats a path into the studio with — what else? — drumsticks.

Hoffman joins Renee Montagne for a holiday review of drums, triangles and other percussive instruments.

"The first drums that were used in Western orchestras were the timpani, or the kettle drums," Hoffman says. They first appeared in Europe in the 1400s, and they had been imported from (drum roll, please....) Turkey, where they had been used in cavalry bands.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Morning Edition music commentator Miles Hoffman is the author of The NPR Classical Music Companion, now in its tenth printing from the Houghton Mifflin Company. Before joining Morning Edition in 2002, Hoffman entertained and enlightened the nationwide audience of NPR's Performance Today every week for 13 years with his musical commentary, "Coming to Terms," a listener-friendly tour through the many foreign words and technical terms peculiar to the world of classical music.