Okay, I’ve got the instrument list, and I’ve familiarized myself with the percussion book and the full score. I’ve made a preliminary drawing of how I think eveything will fit together – now it’s time to start the actual construction…
I’m trying to design my set-up so it fits entirely on the black rug you see in the picture above. I’ve used this same rug on previous tours, and I know it will fit comfortably into the pit in probably 90% of the venues this tour will be playing. If I can keep the whole rig confined to the rug, I know I can keep venue-to-venue adjustments to a minimum. When I’m designing the set-up, I have to take into account the fact that it will have to be moved into different spaces, and won’t just be assembled and sit in one location for the entire run of the show. When you’re on a tour, the fewer modifications you have to make to your set-up from venue to venue, the better off you’ll be. To make your performance easier and more consistent, you need to be able to develop some instinctive muscle memory, and that’s only possible when everything is in exactly the same location, show after show.
When building, it’s only natural to start by placing the larger instruments or instrument groups, and then filling in the spaces around them with the smaller instruments. Since I’m not dealing with anything as large as a marimba, vibes, or xylo on this show, I’ll begin by determining placement of the bass drums and tympani. I also need to decide what my primary playing position will be, and orient that in a way that allows me to see the conductor easily. Since I know I’ll have a video monitoring system available, I won’t have to worry about being able to see the conductor from EVERY playing position, but even so, I’ll try to orient myself so that I can see him easily from the position where I’ll be spending most of my time.
By looking at the score I’ve determined that I’ll need to have two different bass drum/snare drum groups with a suspended cymbal in close proximity to each. I also need to have two toms that are easily reached from either of those positions. Since the snare drums and bass drums are played in combination with each other, I’ll need to be able to play the bass drums with foot pedals. Here’s what I came up with:
The white rectangle you see on the floor under the gold sparkle Slingerland parade drum represents the footprint of the Gran Cassa. The bodhran figures prominently in the new orchestrations and needs to be mounted because it will often be played in combination with a tambourine (riq, or pandeiro – as yet undecided). Both the bodhran and tambo will have to be played with sticks or mallets as well. Mounting them both above the toms/snare drum makes good use of vertical space and is accomplished with help from the Meinl MC-FDH frame drum holder for the bodhran, and the new Grover TMC tambourine mounting clamp for the tambourine.
This photo illustrates how the bodhran is mounted –