Timpani - symbols of death - Philipp Dangas

Timpani - symbols of death

General information on sound symbolism  [ 1/4 ]

The all-encompassing study of a composition is a recommended approach. Of course, in sync with the music-specific analysis. To which individual musical parameters such as harmony, melody, etc. belong. It allows a more far-reaching consideration of the composition.

The factual approach, in turn, stands for the interpretation of the musical signs (semiotics). But also for the content (semantics). It is of the greatest importance because the forms of Western music exist as text, as a sound event and as individual imaginary content. And they require sensible introduction.

2nd part of the contribution „Sound symbolism“

Sound symbolism in the context of „symphonic world music“

A way of being able to convey memorable auditory imagery through the use of symbols. Symbols such as recurring motifs, rhythms, chords or timbres. They can stand for a specific but not directly recognizable purpose.

Simultaneously with the expansion of the sound space, it is possible to reach a higher level of the musician's life. As a result, our music distances itself from peculiarities and similar formulas. It acquires a higher level and thus the claim to be serious music.

General information about the timpani in the context of sound symbolism

can imitate darkness, serve the uncanny or represent a symbol of death in sound. is very unclear and increases with depth. However, its ability to correspond to the mentioned characteristics is increased.

Example of the death symbol timpani

In the following example, just before the end (bar 238), in pp. An excerpt from Ludwig van Beethoven's 3rd symphony. Regarding the central idea, this place deserves the highest attention. Because this develops around the music of the composer and a special timbre is created.

Our example begins with the unison of the flutes and the first violins. They are partially managed in unison. The orchestra apparently stops. The first violins move in a subdued voice "soto voce". as do the double basses, and falls silent.

After the rhythm also gets out of balance. In addition, the theme is not fully intoned by the first violins. The orchestral writing appears disassembled. The march begins to slow down. Does this timpani tone symbolize death? No precise information has been handed down from But the probability that it is a death symbol is pronounced.

Downloads for the [ Death symbols:  Timpani ]

Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Sound file for the score „3rd Symphony - Eroica“ 
Download size: 370 Kilobytes
PDF file for the score „3rd Symphony - Eroica“ 
Download size: 103 Kilobytes

Note on the score with an example for the [ death symbol: timpani ]

A graphic with an extract from the score follows. Excerpt from the "3rd Symphony - Eroica". Composition by Ludwig van Beethoven. An example of the timpani, which symbolically represents death. The graphic can also be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Example of vote splitting Example of Death Symbol “Hammer”