Definition and background:
Or tympani. A very large drum made of copper or brass. Most often used in orchestras and symphonies. This drum has a foot pedal that is attached to the head mechanism. When the foot pedal is depressed, the kettle drum makes a unique, "boing" type of sound.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary