Monthly Archives: September 2013

Paciencia y Fe!

As we head into the final weekend of In The Heights, I wanted to thank our Musical Director, Matt for putting together a great orchestra and for his patience and faith in this newcomer to his pit.  Matt hired me sight unseen and didn’t panic when I confessed that, no, I hadn’t known all those Latin rhythms when he hired me.

Thanks to Tony, our percussionist, who knows his stuff and had some great suggestions along the way, and to the rest of our top-notch orchestra.  It’s been a blast and I’m looking forward to a great closing weekend!

P.S. : If you’ve landed this part and are wondering what to do when you see figures like the one below, here’s a decoder ring.


Rig Rundown : In The Heights

When I heard that I’d be playing alongside a percussion player for In The Heights, I had visions of a simplified drum setup with minimal program changes to worry about.  This was a short-lived dream, however, as the drum part has plenty of incidental percussion and various electronic and sampled sounds that needed to find a home on my kit.

In the end, this turned out to be my largest kit yet thanks to a Roland TMC-6 trigger-to-MIDI converter that provided 6 additional trigger inputs (and at least that many headaches).

Read on for all the fun details!

Continue reading Rig Rundown : In The Heights

Fakin’ It : Güira Style

One of the great things about an electric drum kit is the ability to access many sounds without having to haul around a huge collection of percussion instruments. The downside is that electronic triggers limit the playing techniques you can apply and make it difficult to recreate some of the nuances of the real instruments.

This fact became an issue for me while preparing for In The Heights. The score calls for various techniques on a Güira (a metal Guiro used in Dominican Meringue music), including the seemingly simple pattern below:


The obvious solution is to use a velocity threshold to access the two samples. However, a simple threshold can be tricky – hit slightly too hard or soft and you trigger the wrong sample, wrecking the groove. My solution was to use the new scripting feature in MainStage 3 to create an adaptive velocity threshold that floats based on my playing, helping me lock in the groove. Read on for the details…

Continue reading Fakin’ It : Güira Style