Brian Kirk's percussion setup for The Little Mermaid at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington.
Brian's write-up below photos.
"The Little Mermaid opened at the 5th Ave Theatre on September 15th, after six preview performances. The percussion book lists sixteen instruments, membranophones, idiophones, triangles, bells, rattles, shakers, chimes, anvil, and piatti. A smorgasbord of percussion.
The anvil was provided to me by local Seattle percussionist Paul Hansen. It's a small brass instrument given to Paul by his Japanese friend. With its sharp high pitch sound, this little anvil cuts through for the 'Les Poisson' song, chopping the fish.
My bongos, tambourines, finger cymbal, woodblocks, and cowbell, belonged to the late Tony Gable, percussionist with Kenny G., they were donated to me by Tony's wife Gina. Such an honor bestowed upon me.
The wonderful bass drum belongs to Alec Wilmart (drummer for this production), who I consulted about instruments, setup, and general timpani tuning techniques.
The timpani tunings are the real challenge of The Little Mermaid. Changing pitches must be done by feel, that was my biggest challenge. Memorizing the mallet parts was also very necessary. Funny thing happened with the Piatti, I went for the big solo cymbal crashes on a couple of tunes and got an 'air pocket' sound. Brutal! The Conductor was cracking up. I wasn't. Went to woodshed the piatti, with the 'Wilmart' crash cymbal method, and fixed that problem pronto.
In the song 'Part Of Your World', and at the height of Diana Huey's (Ariel) vocal, I play a D flat timpani roll (Forte-piano) with a crescendo into a Forte quarter note. Diana holds the note to a crowd pleasing applause, and I get goose bumps every time.
One of the instruments of choice for my setup is The Miller Machine, which gives me the ability to play a triangle or finger cymbal with accurate precision. The Miller Machine facilitates rapid triangle sounds, including trills on the lever using mallets, and single notes with pinpoint accuracy. Love the Finger Cymbal Machine. Striking the lever provides the pure tone of the finger cymbal to sing in 'Poor Unfortunate Souls'.
Lastly, I love slamming the Tam Tam mallet into the Paiste gong! Very therapeutic."