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Topic: Use of Electronic or Sampled Drums

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  1. #1

    Use of Electronic or Sampled Drums

    I am trying to orchestrate a musical -- and to keep the number of musicians required to the bare minimum. At the moment I am using 2 percussion players and 2 keyboard players. The first percussionist plays a standard drumkit like you find in most shows - kick drum, snare, toms, cymbols and hi-hat. The second plays the timpani, xylophone and other mostly melodic percussion instruments. I can assign all but the timpani to the second keyboard player without giving him too much to do, or eliminating anything critical.

    But the timpani is a problem. While I am never using it at the same time as the traps, it feels like it would be a bit much to ask the drummer to walk over to the timpani, then go back to his seat in time to do a snare roll. I've been close enough to the pit to see a single kettle drum behind the drum kit, so that the drummer could turn around on his stool and give it the occasional hit. But my timpani part is a bit more demanding. For one thing, I need two of them. And they play more than just a couple of hits now and then. I've tried eliminating the timpani in favor of the lowest tom toms in some places, and the kick drum in others, but after a lot of work, I've decided that this really doesn't cut it. Now I'm thinking that electronic drum pads, triggering timpani samples would be a better way to go. It seems like the timpani parts would be easily playable if the drummer could have two pads mounted near his snare or toms.

    I'm just wondering if this is something that can be done live. Are electronic drum kits generally equipped with this type of sound (timpani)? Whenever I've heard them in the theater, there has been more than one drummer -- usually two or three. The timpani would be played by another musician, the other acoustic drums by yet another, and the guy with the electronic drums would play very electronic sounding percussion. Assuming that something could be rigged (i.e. a laptop with timpani samples) will it sound acceptible? Acceptible being relative to this venu, where all the musicians will be in a pit, amplified and mixed together. It seems to me that if some instruments have to be synthesized, the percussive ones would be the least objectionable.

  2. #2

    Re: Use of Electronic or Sampled Drums

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr
    I am trying to orchestrate a musical -- and to keep the number of musicians required to the bare minimum. At the moment I am using 2 percussion players and 2 keyboard players. The first percussionist plays a standard drumkit like you find in most shows - kick drum, snare, toms, cymbols and hi-hat. The second plays the timpani, xylophone and other mostly melodic percussion instruments. I can assign all but the timpani to the second keyboard player without giving him too much to do, or eliminating anything critical.

    But the timpani is a problem. While I am never using it at the same time as the traps, it feels like it would be a bit much to ask the drummer to walk over to the timpani, then go back to his seat in time to do a snare roll. I've been close enough to the pit to see a single kettle drum behind the drum kit, so that the drummer could turn around on his stool and give it the occasional hit. But my timpani part is a bit more demanding. For one thing, I need two of them. And they play more than just a couple of hits now and then. I've tried eliminating the timpani in favor of the lowest tom toms in some places, and the kick drum in others, but after a lot of work, I've decided that this really doesn't cut it. Now I'm thinking that electronic drum pads, triggering timpani samples would be a better way to go. It seems like the timpani parts would be easily playable if the drummer could have two pads mounted near his snare or toms.

    I'm just wondering if this is something that can be done live. Are electronic drum kits generally equipped with this type of sound (timpani)? Whenever I've heard them in the theater, there has been more than one drummer -- usually two or three. The timpani would be played by another musician, the other acoustic drums by yet another, and the guy with the electronic drums would play very electronic sounding percussion. Assuming that something could be rigged (i.e. a laptop with timpani samples) will it sound acceptible? Acceptible being relative to this venu, where all the musicians will be in a pit, amplified and mixed together. It seems to me that if some instruments have to be synthesized, the percussive ones would be the least objectionable.
    Garritan and GPO assisted greatly in the production of the Los Angeles Nutcracker several years ago. There are people who worked on the production who frequent this forum and I'm sure they'll be able to give you some insight on this subject. I believe I recall reading that the samples do work convincingly in a theater setting provided they are properly balanced, EQ'd, and receive the proper dose of reverb.

    Reegs

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