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WSS Help!!!

#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
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#2
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
No strings and reduced winds? Pass on it. You do not want to be involved in that production.
 
#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.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#6
West side story???


??!!???!!!!!???VIOLA??????!!!!???????



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
Timpani
Percussion (four players) **
Piano / Celesta
Electric Guitar / Spanish Guitar / Mandolin
Violin I - VII
Cello I - IV
Contrabass


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!
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#7
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:BASS
ALT:CELLO
ALT:DRUMS
ALT:GUITAR
ALT:HORN
ALT:pERCUSSION
ALT:pIANO
ALT:REED 1 ALTO SAXOPHONE, Bb CLARINET, FLUTE, PICCOLO
ALT:REED 2 ALTO SAXOPHONE, Bb CLARINET, Eb CLARINET, FLUTE, PICCOLO
ALT:REED 3 Bb CLARINET, FLUTE, PICCOLO, TENOR SAXOPHONE
ALT:REED 4 Bb CLARINET, BARITONE SAXOPHONE, BASS CLARINET
ALT:REED 5 BASSOON
ALT:SYNTHESIZER
ALT:TROMBONE
ALT:TRUMPET 1
ALT:TRUMPET 2
ALT:VIOLIN 1&2
ALT:VIOLIN 3

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...
 

Merlin

Content Expert/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#9
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.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#10
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.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#13
My previous post of instrumentation was from the official West Side Story site. This listing is of Bernsteins original scoring from Wikipedia:
The score for West Side Story was orchestrated by Bernstein himself, with assistance from Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal. The instrumentation at first seems unusually large, but typical for Broadway, many of the players are called upon to handle multiple instruments, or 'double'. The score calls for a total of five 'reed' players covering: three piccolos, three flutes, oboe, English horn, E-flat clarinet, four B-flat clarinets, three bass clarinets, bassoon, and saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass). There are two independent parts for horn in F, three independent parts for trumpet in B-flat (2nd doubling trumpet in D) and two trombone parts. Two or more percussionists are asked to cover: traps, timpani, vibraphone, four pitched drums, güiro, xylophone, three bongos, conga, timbales, snare drum, police whistle, gourd, two suspended cymbals, castanets, maracas, finger cymbals, tambourine, small maracas, glockenspiel, wood block, claves, triangle, temple blocks, chimes, tam-tam, ratchet, and slide whistle. In addition, there are parts for celesta, piano, electric guitar, Spanish guitar, and mandolin, while the (bowed) string section consists of seven violins (divisi), four cellos (divisi), and double bass, a total of 12 independent string parts.
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.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#15
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
 
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