• Drum Set and Percussion Setups from Musical Theatre and More

Alex Sikorski - Les Miserables

Alex’s setup for a production of Les Miserables.


“I’m pretty sure this setup qualifies as the smallest setup for the 2009 UK Tour version of Les Misérables; being 5'3" certainly has it's advantages in the very small orchestra pit at the Baldwin Theater in Royal Oak, Michigan. No instrument is left out in this setup but not all of them could make it into the frame of the photo; my tin can/pot, cricket effect, and ratchet, for example, are stored on the carpeted floor.

I'm using MainStage 2 on a MacBook Pro, with a MalletKAT Pro WS as a midi controller (the built-in sounds of this older model just don't cut it for me and MainStage gives me much more flexibility over the performance of my virtual instruments). Glock, tubular bells, xylophone, crotales and timpani, are being played through MainStage. Using an expression pedal (set to control expression) and a damper pedal at the same time is one of the most challenging parts of this setup: there's no room for a chair so I have to balance on both pedals while doing crescendi/diminuendi on timpani.

I was lucky enough to find a car suspension spring that sounded very similar to the 'trine' called for after one trip to a local junk yard.I cleaned off the rust, put a light coat of black paint on it, and it was good to go.

The Miller Machine itself is situated underneath the splash cymbal in the photo, with only its attached beater accessible. When I first purchased my Miller Machine, I was delighted to discover that rolls truly are possible - I can't help smirking when I get a chance to play triangle rolls.

The second most important element in this electronic rig is the bass cabinet, hidden behind the tam-tam, which is being powered by a powered mixer. Specifically, it is a bass cabinet with a tweeter capable of handling about 300 watts. It's the secret to making the timpani actually sound like the real thing, keyboard amps need not apply. I was surprised to find that the audio engineer didn't want to take a line out from my mixer to send through the house - after making a recording of a rehearsal, I was pleasantly surprised that the recording verified his claims, that the timpani blended with the ensemble perfectly. “