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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kettle, Sir Rupert Alfred

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KETTLE, SIR RUPERT ALFRED (1817-1894), English county court judge, was born at Birmingham on the 9th of January 1817. His family had for some time been connected with the glass-staining business. In 1845 he was called to the bar, and in 1859 he was made judge of the Worcestershire county courts, becoming also a bencher of the Middle Temple (1882). He acted as arbitrator in several important strikes, and besides being the first president of the Midland iron trade wages board, he was largely responsible for the formation of similar boards in other staple trades. His name thus became identified with the organization of a system of arbitration between employers and employed, and in 1880 he was knighted for his services in this capacity. In 1851 he married; one of his sons subsequently became a London police magistrate. Kettle died on the 6th of October 1894 at Wolverhampton.


KETTLEDRUM[1] (Fr. timbales; Ger. Pauken; Ital. timpani; Sp. timbal), the only kind of drum (q.v.) having a definite musical pitch. The kettledrum consists of a hemispherical pan of copper, brass or silver, over which a piece of vellum is stretched tightly by means of screws working on an iron ring, which fits closely round the head of the drum. In the bottom of the pan is a small vent-hole, which prevents the head being rent by the concussion of air. The vellum head may thus be slackened or tightened at will to produce any one of the notes within its compass of half an octave. Each kettledrum gives but one note at a time, and as it takes some little time to alter all the screws, two or three kettledrums, sometimes more, each tuned to a different note, are used in an orchestra or band. For centuries kettledrums have been made and used in Europe in pairs, one large and one small; the relative proportions of the two instruments being well defined and invariable. Even when eight pairs of drums, all tuned to different notes, are used, as by Berlioz in his “Grand Requiem,” there are still but the two sizes of drums to produce all the notes. Various mechanisms have been tried with the object of facilitating the change of pitch, but the simple old-fashioned model is still the most frequently used in England. Two sticks, of which there are several kinds, are employed to play the kettledrum; the best of these are made of whalebone for elasticity, and have a small wooden knob at one end, covered with a thin piece of fine sponge. Others have the button covered with felt or india-rubber. The kettledrum is struck at about a quarter of the diameter from the ring.

The compass of kettledrums collectively is not much more than an octave, between Britannica Kettledrum Range.png; the larger instruments, which it is inadvisable to tune below F, take any one of the following notes: —


Britannica Kettledrum Scale.png


and the smaller are tuned to one of the notes completing the chromatic and enharmonic scale from Britannica Kettledrum Smaller Range.png. These limits comprise all the notes of artistic value that can be obtained from kettledrums. When there are but two drums the term “drum” used by musicians always denotes the kettledrum they are generally tuned to the tonic and dominant or to the tonic and subdominant, these notes entering into the composition of most of the harmonies of the key. Formerly the kettledrums used to be treated as transposing instruments, the notation, as for the horn, being in C, the key to which the kettledrums were to be tuned being indicated in the score. Now composers write the real notes.

The tone of a good kettledrum is sonorous, rich, and of great power. Vhen noise rather than music is required uncovered sticks are used. The drums may be muffled or covered by placing a piece of cloth or ilk over the vellum to damp the sound, a device which produces a ugubrious, mysterious effect and is indicated in the score by the words timpani coperti, timpani con sordini, timbales couvertes, gedämpfte Pauken. Besides the beautiful effects obtained by means if delicate gradations of tone, numerous rhythmical figures may be executed on one, two or more notes. German drummers who were

  1. From “drum” and “kettle,” a covered metal vessel for boiling vater or other liquid; the O. E. word is cetel, cf. Du. ketel, Ger. Kessel, borrowed from Lat. catillus, dim. of catinus, bowl.