Timpani are large drums that are common in most orchestras. Have you've ever heard something that sounded like thunder in a song? That's probably timpani!
You can also call timpani kettledrums. They're big percussion instruments that can be tuned to specific pitches using a foot pedal, and they're played with soft-headed mallets that professional timpanists usually make themselves. Today's timpani evolved from military drums used during the Civil War. When you're talking about one individual drum, call it a timpano.
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