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View from the Pit!

Playing the drums for a living is not like having to work down the pit. It has it's ups and down, but lets be clear, it is a fairly privileged role. The orchestral pit is the closest we musicians get to working down a Pit, so I thought I would share a view of working on a musical show in an orchestra pit.

At the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon the band is housed underneath the stage to control the volume of the live band and to get a few extra seats into the auditorium. Bands these days are pretty small and there were three of us working on this show. We therefore have a lot of additional instruments being played on a click track, which we lock into (hopefully) and play with to create a big sound.

Screened off and seperated from the rest of the band, because drums can be noisy, I spent 50 shows on my own connected by an audio feed to my band members and two video screens. One of the screens enabled me to see the Musical Director and the other the stage.

Here are a couple of videos of me playing two short pieces from the show. The mix is largely the sound captured from the mixing desk in the auditorium, so there are some moments when you can hear the sound engineer riding the volumes. There is a small mix of just the drums captured directly from the camera. It is all live as well!

The first is Something About This Night, written by Gary Barlow.

This second piece is a pop song by Olly Murs, Wrapped Up, brought into the musical theatre style.

I hope you get some idea of what it is like to play on a live show from under the stage, listening to everything through headphones and being quite remote. You do get used to it and it works well, but the logistics and skills of playing with a click track, watching for non verbal communications through monitors, whilst sight reading and playing gives you a different perspective on playing the drums - great fun when that all comes together though.

I played with two really talented musicians. Robert Rayner MD and Pianist. Andrew Cooksley, guitarist. Good life long friends from our shows together.

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