Michael Dooley’s percussion setup for Pippin at Heritage High School in Frisco, Texas. This is the 2006 MTI version.
“After cracking open the percussion book the first time while listening to cast recordings, I realized that this version of Pippin is quite different than the original or revival Broadway shows. By the first page it was obvious that this book is not possible for one player, but the school only hired me. I had to pick and choose which instruments I could cover per number, using the criteria 1) ‘Can I do this and still sound good’ and 2) ‘What is the most important sound to have here’. Our pit only had 5 players (drums, percussion, keys, guitar, bass) so the choices may vary.
The school offered to let me use their large equipment, so I took advantage of not having to schlep the vibes, xylophone, timpani, bongos, or temple blocks. I also took advantage of the large amount of space I had to work with in the pit. I could have pulled the timpani in closer, but I didn't want my back turned to the Musical Director.
I used the upside down cymbal next to the timpani as a one-handed pair of piatti so I can play the timpani at the same time. I have two tambourines: one headless Grover I use when I can for shaky-shake stuff, and a mounted Meinl above the vibes when I have to switch to other instruments quickly. I've got a pedal cowbell set up under the vibes so I don't need my hands to play it.
The Miller Machine is set up underneath the mounted tambourine, and as always is invaluable for a couple of numbers. You can also see my Signature Clave Mount (carved dish sponge) in front of the bell tree, so I can smack a single clave with a rosewood mallet and play other instruments at the same time. The silver dome is a Sabian Alu Bell that I'm using as a substitute for an anvil. The Alu Bell sounds awesome and loud, but it's temperamental. Best case scenario is that you mount it upside down and have a free hand to choke it - it rings forever otherwise. I have it right-side up and stuffed with foam so it chokes itself, but the anvil sweet spot is pretty small. Hit too close to the center and you'll get a dinky ‘dink’. Not shown: a tin can I put up on the trap table for the first act Finale.
I gave the finger cymbals to the drummer, because she's not playing anything for the two times I use them and there's a quick/awkward transition as written in the percussion book.
1) The book is only possible to play as written with two percussionists!
2) The instrumentation calls for ratchet, but there is no such part
3) You'll need a single B natural crotale, low octave if possible
4) You need castanets for ‘Bed Music’
5) There is a xylophone lick at the end of ‘Glory - Part 3’ that has no clef and no key signature; it's bass clef (dunno where it's supposed to sound) with three flats
This show was a lot of fun to play and mostly high-energy. There are some tricky keyboard licks. Key signatures and accidentals can get pretty nasty, with C flats and 6 sharps/flats. The numbers ‘Magic to Do’, ‘Glory - Part 1’ and ‘War is a Science’ kept me on my toes running around between different instruments.”
- Bell Tree
- Finger Cymbals
- Temple Blocks
- Cabasa (replacement for two measures of sandpaper blocks. we weren't miked and regular sandpaper wasn't cutting it)
- Wood Block
- Crotale (one note - B natural low octave)
- Miller Machine
- Mike Balter Bamboo Staccato (B2) and Solid Felt (B0) Timpani Mallets
- Innovative Percussion Christopher Lamb Orchestral Medium Hard Synthetic Xylophone Mallets (CL-X4) mostly on xylophone also used on bongos/Alu Bell/clave a few times
- Innovative Percussion Orchestral Series Light Glockenspiel Mallets (OS6)
- Malletech Dave Samuels Heavy Hard Vibraphone Mallets (DS19H)
- Innovative Percussion Christopher Lamb Large Orchestral Rosewood Mallets (CL-X8) on clave
- Dragonfly Fiberglass 5/8" Brass Mallets for bell tree
- Dragonfly Soft Suspended Cymbal Mallets on temple blocks/wood block/suspended cymbal/bongos/vibes
- Regal Tip Classic Telescoping Brushes