I'm writing a timpani part for a concert band score. I've seen timpanist "choke" the note with their hand (on the head) after striking it to stop it from sustaining. How can I notate this?

2 Answers 2


Write the length of note you want. If you want notes separated by rests, write them. The timpanist will damp as necessary.

  • Or write them as staccato.
    – Tim
    Apr 12, 2018 at 6:55
  • I'm unconvinced - there's gotta be a difference between damping a note and letting it ring. Apr 12, 2018 at 13:23
  • Certainly there is. That's why we have note-lengths, rests and the l.v. instruction.
    – Laurence
    Apr 12, 2018 at 13:48
  • Also, a tie to nowhere means to mean let ring
    – MattPutnam
    Apr 12, 2018 at 14:26
  • A 'tie to nowhere' IS one form of the l.v. instruction. The other is the text 'l.v.'
    – Laurence
    Apr 12, 2018 at 17:03

There are several symbols at my favorite reference such as "+" which indicate percussion instrument damping. I plead ignorance as to which symbols are applied to the tympani in particular. Search the linked page for the word "damp," and you'll see a couple crosshair-like symbols, sadly without comments as to applicability.

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