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Topic: Drum part solved for my musical too!

  1. #1

    Drum part solved for my musical too!

    I met today with the conductor/choral person and the pianist.
    They loved my piano/vocal scores made in Finale.
    They said they often get horrible scores for the standard musicals - just awful and very difficult to read. So they appreciated having such clean and readable scores.

    I walked through the show and explained it all.
    These will be great people to work with and they are very excited to be a part of a premiere performance.

    The conductor's husband will be the drummer - he said he will handle it and even write out for me what he will be doing. Yeah! We will get together soon and touch base - what a big relief for me!
    MacPro 2.66 - Tiger & Snow Leopard / 16GB RAM / several TB of HD space/ Garritan Libraries / EWQLSO Platinum PLAY / Omnisphere/ Kontakt 2 & 3 / Finale 2010 /DP5/ a VERY patient wife!

  2. #2

    Re: Drum part solved for my musical too!

    More good news! The rental scores your music staff complained about--SO true--It's amazing how sloppy and ragged the scores are for the big shows, "Guys and Dolls, "West Side Story"--anything you care to mention. Most are 10th generation photocopies, crooked, blotched, torn, and the scores they were originally copied from were all hand done and not always by the neatest transcribers. Awful. You blessed them with your beautiful Finale scores.

    AND I'm sure it's a relief to have the conductor's husband take over the drums. Let me know what style of notation he prefers--I'm curious.

    Thanks for the updates, Charles. It just gets Crazy fun from here on out. OK, still lots of sweat and hard work for a lot of people--but everyone's going to have a fabulous time.


  3. #3

    Re: Drum part solved for my musical too!

    The scores you receive from Bway show rental houses are not the actual scores used in the original first run productions. They are usually from the first national tours. They are usually reduced to accomodate a smaller number of players. Looking at them doesn't tell you everything about what was actually played in the pit in a Broadway house. Also, you have to remember that the NY theater scene has always been a very exclusive. closely knit community which is not used to writing down anything more than absolutely necessary. I am told that when George Gershwin was alive and composing (conducting his own scores and playing the piano in the pit as well) he would do things like write the name of the musician on each of the Reed parts and let the player determine which instruments to use. Its not that they didn't communicate with each other or that there was no give and take. My impression was that they just didn't write things down much -- and, when they did, it tended to be just the stuff the things that were unusual or that they thought they might forget in performance. The thing you have to remember is that those performances were what mattered to them - not saving their work for posterity. They believed that they were creating entertainment, not art.

  4. #4

    Re: Drum part solved for my musical too!

    Hi, Ejr - Thanks for the interesting post.

    That's exactly my understanding, that the rental scores are from the first tours when the charts needed to be nailed down more than they were in the original productions.

    The charts I've seen aren't so much sketched in and imprecise as messy, what with the combined factors of being bad photocopies and hand written in the first place. I've seen some full of inked in cuts and notes - not written on the copies, but where those messy annotations were on the originals being mass produced. It's always a bit of a shock - a theatre rents materials for a big, famous Broadway show, and what they get looks like amateurish scribbles!

    One note to add - Companies renting these scores from the NY publishers are given scores for a small band, but for an extra fee they can add more parts to the rental package until they can have full scale orchestras if they're able to afford it. If a humble group can only afford a single pianist to play the entire score, they still have to rent the separate parts for a minimum sized band.

    Ah, one more note. I personally make no automatic distinction between "entertainment" and "art." Something created as "entertainment," with the creators only focused on that goal during the creation process, can still manage to be "art."

    Like anything which emerges as "art," it's never the conscious goal of the people involved to be creating "art."

    That's like the actor who goes on stage determined to be "brilliant." He never will be with that as a goal. If he just goes about his business of honestly living through the circumstances of the play and remaining focused on being his character moment-to-moment - it's possible his performance will end up being proclaimed as "art" by others. That's always a determination made by others, not by writers, painters, performers etc.

    That was fun.


  5. #5

    Re: Drum part solved for my musical too!

    The Dramatists Guild (the labor organization for playwrights, lyricists and composers for the theater) publishes a magazine called "The Dramatist". A while back they did a story on orchestrations for Broadway (you can probably get a back issue through their web site) which went into a lot of detail about preserving orchestrations. I was suprised and shocked to learn that this is a relatively new idea. Even shows as recent as "Into the Woods" have no written records of the original Bway charts. Nobody kept anything -- not even many of the orchestrators. Researchers have been resorting to listening to original cast albums (which were not always faithful) or more recently, the live Broadcasts on PBS of a few shows (like Into the Woods) when they do a revival.

    I think the rental houses are even more suspect today than they were when I was producing and performing in college and community theater productions (some 30+ years ago). If you look at their web sites (which I did not too long ago to get some feel for what type of balance between instruments you should have in the pit for a more or less typical musical) I was suprised to see that they all seemed more alike than I remember them. I suspect they may have begun to "standardize" them to make them more rentable. The end result, I'm afraid, is that outside of NYC (where they hire a new orchestrator to re-arrange every revival) all the shows would start to sound the same.

    Re: your comments about small orchestras. I recall that for very small shows, back in the day, we used to just rent or buy one or more copies of the complete piano/vocal score. Even off-off Broadway, I've done productions with two pianos, drums and a bass in the pit. Most bass players I met play off the chord markings (if any) and the left hand of the piano part. Most drummers just listen to the cast album and the rehearsal pianist and watch the conductor.

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