• Drum Set and Percussion Setups from Musical Theatre and More

On The Town - Broadway - Charlie Descarfino

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Charlie Descarfino's percussion setup for the Broadway production of On The Town at the Lyric Theatre in New York City.

"A first here on Broadway for me, is the use of a 23" timpani…"

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“The percussion setup for this show is rather straightforward as compared to other shows I have performed. It is sometimes done as a one player book with the percussionist playing both drum set and percussion, however there have also been orchestral concert versions of this show which utilize more of a combination of percussion section and drummer.

It seems to me that this current Broadway production is using orchestrations that the Bernstein estate has compiled which may be a bit of a hybrid of the original Broadway production - with additions that came along on the later cast album of that same production and later orchestral versions (we are fortunate to have a 28 piece orchestra).

A first here on Broadway for me, is the use of a 23" timpani (which the number Conga Cabana requires) because of a written high ‘A’ in the timpani part. The timpani are used in kind of a kitschy way in that number imitating perhaps the idea of an ethnic drum, so even though that is the only place in the show that requires it (because of the character of the music) the effect would be lost by doing something that we often do, which is to invert the intervals. As a result, sometimes it would have been preferable to have another lower drum, however, the room limitations in the theater wouldn't allow for it. Fortunately I was able to use a set of four timpani for the cast album!”

November 2014

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12/8/19