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The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 23, June 8, 2008, Article 32

A MUSICAL USE FOR COINS: THE PENNY TIMPANI

A reader forwarded this article from Johannesburg about an interesting musical use for coins. -Editor

A penny whistle is well known in South Africa, but penny timpani?

Audiences were treated to penny timpani during the performances of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra this week after Welsh guest conductor Grant Llewellyn snubbed South African money.

The programme included British composer Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations and in one of the variations the timpani or kettle drums have to be played with coins, instead of the normal drumsticks, to depict the sound of a ship's engines.

JPO trumpet player Berndt Baumann said on Friday that when rehearsals started on Tuesday, the timpanist used South African R2 coins.

But that did not satisfy the conductor.

"I used to be a coin collector, so I went home and looked in an old box and found just the right pennies."

One of the British copper pennies used by the timpanist is dated 1899, the year the Enigma Variations premiered and depicts Queen Victoria. The other is from 1902 and features the head of King George.





Wayne Homren, Editor

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