Here's the situation: I am polishing the orchestration for my score for a musical. I am using two timpani. I have avoided requiring them to be retuned within any given song -- but there is one big production number that has a key change at the end of each verse, with the last two chords in each measure emphasized (dominent, then tonic). I need to punch this up a bit for the last verse.
If I use the timpani on the penultimate measure, the final one seems weak. If I save the timpani for the last measure, the lead up to it seems lacking. If I score for four timpani it sounds right. But it's hard to justify going from two timpani to four just to get those two notes . . . to say nothing of the fact that four timpani in a theater pit orchestra is a bit much.
I am wondering how much time timpani players need to retune (assuming that both instruments have pedals.) I realize that this is of course relative to a lot of things (tempo, the dexterity of the player, and how fast he is able to tune). But it would help me to know something of the tuning process. Specifically: can the position of the pedal be determined by sight (and possibly marked) or does the player have to listen to the instrument when he is tuning it. I've seen some players do the latter in community theatre shows where they don't have a pit. I don't know what the pros do when they're in a long running production with 8 shows a week.
My musician friends tell me that virtually anything I imagine can be done. And I have nothing but admiration for B'way pit orchestras. But I am trying not to give in to the temptation to take them literally and possibly orchestrate something that is unplayable by stock or community theater companies or will be done badly. If compromises have to be made, I'd rather know about it now and make the changes myself. Thanks.