David Herbert, principal timpani of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is a master of the mallets. In this short video, he explains which sticks are best for certain repertoire. “If we are performing music by Mozart, I will choose sticks that bring a lot of life out of the instrument. If we’re doing something by Wagner, I’ll be using something softer, with much more resonance.” Ultimately, though, the timpani and the rest of the percussion section play a complex role in the ensemble. “We’re providing rhythm, of course,” Herbert observes, “but we’re also providing a lot more color, dynamic subtlety and power to the orchestra.”