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WSS Help!!!

Discussion in 'Practical Advice' started by saxplayer1004, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. Just got through a hell run of The Music Man. Original instrumentation with only two woodwind players. One of whom doesn't play any flute and is limited in clarinet... He was reading 4 and 5, I was reading 1 and 2. My piccolo and flute playing is good, but not quite that good to whisper in the wicked high range. First time I've played eefer in 2 years and my hands have gotten bigger which was hell on it's own. Knucklehead pit directors not thinking when they hire people. 5 brass players 2 woodwinds, one keyboard, so no one to double strings. wtf.
    It's hell, one more performance on that and done! Anyway, rant over on that

    So the same group, same knucklehead director is doing West Side Story in March. It's a ways away, but want to get some idea of how to do this. I've done the show before on reed 4, but we had a full pit and everyone was good at what they did, so this is a whole other concept. Any suggestions on how to reduce the book at all? Merlin I know you've done this whole thing before, so I'm leanin on you for this one
  2. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    No strings and reduced winds? Pass on it. You do not want to be involved in that production.
  3. Problem is my buddy is playin in the pit and it's a favor to him to help him out...
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    I agree with Carl. Sounds like a good time to learn to say no.

    Remember the three gig rules:

    1. Good musical quality
    2. Good money
    3. Good hang

    If you have at least two out of the three, take the gig.
  5. I've got good hang... Still being in college money isn't really the driving force yet... Networking right now is far more important to me since I'm a non music major, I have to do as many shows as possible to be able to compete with the guys who have degrees and are already established...
    Music quality as far as the other players are concerned is fine, the two keyboard players are great, and the brass section is real good as well, but I also remember that WSS relies on the woodwinds and violas thru the show... I just don't want to leave my buddy hanging if they can't find any other decent doublers...

    My book for music man is quite comical. Notes in both books on read x part from other book, and switch instruments and read this part then jump books, turn page in other book, get ready for this gnarly cut to switch horns and book, etc etc. Definitely a brain workout.
  6. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    West side story???


    Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
    Reed II: Eb Clarinet, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
    Reed III: Piccolo, Flute, Oboe, English Horn, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
    Reed IV: Piccolo, Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
    Reed V: Bassoon

    2 Horns in F
    3 Trumpets
    2 Trombones
    Percussion (four players) **
    Piano / Celesta
    Electric Guitar / Spanish Guitar / Mandolin
    Violin I - VII
    Cello I - IV

    If you don't have the above list, it is not worth doing. Even if you have a dozen good violists.:emoji_rage:

    Regarding leaving your buddy hanging, the contractor/musical director should lose the gig. Playing through this nonsense is keeping the MD employed while a better qualified individual is probably home watching TV. In the best long term interests, don't enable this kind of nonsense to happen. Walk. no, run!
  7. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I'm going to have to agree with Merlin and Carl. I'm sure Helen will, too, as you probably don't have a bass sax there, either.

    Opinion: tell them to get a really good CD that has the music score and tell them to use that. It'll sound better than 8 folks trying to take the place of 50ish.
  8. I've never done WSS original score with violins, they were always done with violas playing the violin parts because that's what Bernstein apparently had initially... I dunno, there's no way in hell we're getting any strings, the piano player is good and can get most of the book on a synth though.
    Bass sax isn't the hard part. It's finding someone to play the damn reed 3 book. I don't know any professional oboe players here that can play flute and clarinet halfway decently... The symphony players avoid pit gigs because of it.

    ALT:VIOLIN 1&2

    I've done that set before, and it's not hard. We'll have the full brass set
    so horn 2 trumpets and bone. All drums covered, piano player on synth, it's just finding someone to play the damn ww parts... Can get reeds 4 and 5 covered if they give us enough budget to hire 5 reeds. Was just wondering if there was a way to cut the stuff out and have one guy playing across two books. Problem with the cd is the choreographer is an idiot and choreographs to the movie and what not, so without the option for cuts and what not, that's not going to happen...
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Knucklehead MD AND an idiot choreographer?

    You can do the show if you want, but don't expect any comiseration when you find yourself in the middle of a living nightmare.

    FWIW though, the oboe and EH parts on WSS aren't technically difficult. There's far more flute and clarinet in the book.
  10. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Any competent sound man can edit a recording to whatever length or cut the choreographer needs.

    As to the synth strings, there's enough reason not to do the gig. Just screw more musicians out of work. I'm sure they can hire a synth to cover the ww parts too.
  11. oh I know it's gonna be a nightmare, just want to see how to make it less of a nightmare from people that know which parts are important and which are less important. I.e. bari sax in reed 4 with the except of like 2 songs. Just want to see how I can split the 5 books between 2 praying 3 guys, one of whom can't play flute

    Competent sound man is key point there Carl...
    This is small high school theatre, not real community or semi pro productions. If this was a normal budgeted show, I'd refuse to play, but the good guy in me can't really say no to it because they need all the help they can get

    Gotta also remember guys, this is low budget redneck ville usa community theatre. I'm going 2 hours travel to help out. It's not for the money, it's to help these high school kids get the best production they can. I'm just looking for the best way to make it suck the least...
  12. But I am getting better on clarinet! I guess I need to learn flute at some point.

    I thought I did a decent job considering I am still learning clarinet, was playing 2 books, and transposing bassoon parts :)

    This was for a youth theater, so all of the cast were from elementary school up to high school seniors. They have a very limited budget, so I wanted to help them out as much as possible, while getting a bit more pit experience.
  13. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    My previous post of instrumentation was from the official West Side Story site. This listing is of Bernsteins original scoring from Wikipedia:
    Notice he did NOT use violas in the score. For the symphonic dances, a viola part was created, but it is not in the original score.
  14. sorry, you win. Was just what I had heard from the two pit directors I had worked with. Either way, strings aren't possible with this one...
  15. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I've done the show as a string player and as a contractor on several occasions, so I have a little extra knowledge about this one. I can't imagine the violin solo parts played by a synth. It is just wrong.
  16. I don't disagree with you, but unfortunately the board of this playhouse takes no consideration for the pit when they're picking shows or allocating money. For Music Man they spend more on getting 3 or 4 custom made backdrops done than they did for the pit musicians. I can't really imagine WSS done without strings either, but unfortunately it's going to have to be done, and that being said, I'm not sure of any string players in the area. The closest symphonies are 2 ish hours away, and there's not a huge string set going on in the high schools and even the universities around here
  17. Merlin

    Merlin Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    You're two hours away as well.

    It's going to be musically disappointing to you, so wash your hands of it.
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