Supplied percussion at contests.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by bagpuss, Apr 12, 2003.

  1. bagpuss

    bagpuss Active Member

    I suppose this may be an imotive subject and I realise I might well be opening a can of worms here but, hey, doesn't look like I care!!
    I'd be interested to find out what other bands think of the percussion equipment supplied at contests especially high profile ones such as area or national finals. In my experience, the percussion equipment tends not to be in brilliant shape and certainly isn't worthy of the contest it's part of.

    I believe that in most contests where percussion is supplied, there is a rule that dictates that the bands must use the equipment supplied. It is this rule that I object to more than anything else. In the same way that a cornet player (or brass player in general) would not appreciate having the instrument that they're used to taken off them and given a different one to play on stage with, why should percussionists be treated any differently? In one fairly recent contest where I was playing timps and tuned, I was used to having the required notes on our 3 timps and in a certain (very logical and easy) order. Unfortunately, when it came to going on stage, there were 4 timps and the notes that I needed were not on the timps I needed them on. It therefore made changes very difficult (and impossible) in a place or two. I realise I may have been the only one to experience this problem, but in my view, once is enough. Every player should be given every available opportunity to play their part in the best way possible and not be hampered by equipment or the way it's set up.

    I know that a lot of people are going to say that's it's all due to the 4 minute rule and that percussion can't be set up in that time. You're probably right, but, if that is the case, scrap the 4 minute rule!! If the contest is going to take longer because bands want to get set up properly to give themselves every chance of playing well, then so be it. If it over-runs, it over-runs!! I'm not saying that bands should be given as long as they like to set up, but I'm sure the 4 minute rule can be increased to say 8 or 10 minutes and the extra time can be built into the contest schedule.

    I feel very strongly about this subject and feel that it's something that needs looking into. So if anyone from the 'powers that be' are reading this, please look into it and GET IT SORTED OUT.

  2. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    our bands percussion equipment is so outdated that at contests its always better quality............... we did once have a dodgy pedal timp at the area, but at least every band has the same problem, But I know what you mean it should be 100%!
  3. neiltwist

    neiltwist Active Member

    the percussion on stage is usually better than ours too!

    but i don't think that you have to use supplied percussion in some local contests. And in the Northern regionals, you have to keep the percussion in the same place! however, band secretaries are posted the layout, so it's up to them to give it to the percussionists: our percussionists used this info to make sure that they had re-arranged the percussion at the back of the band so it was exactly the same arrangement. the correct number of timps, bass drum in the right place etc.

    set percussion contests can be annoying, but i think they do help to make sure that bands don't take forever to change round, and also it means bands don't have to take percussion with them to the contest.
  4. michellegarbutt

    michellegarbutt Supporting Member

    The problem we had at the Northern Area heat was according to the plan that was sent out the timps were placed behind the trombones and the glock was placed behind the cornets.Neither was allowed to be moved and we only had 1 guy to play both of them. It was a small stage so the guy didn't have time or room to sprint from one side of the stage to the other. I rang the organisers and asked please could we either move one or use our own as well, gave the reason why and was given a flat no. Luckily on the day the guy providing percussion had an extra glock so he set that up as well next to the timps and we managed, but if he hadn't had that extra glock we would have had to miss a part out even though there was someone there who could cover the part.
  5. bagpuss

    bagpuss Active Member

    It is just this sort of thing I'm talking about. Yes I can understand that some bands may be in a position where the percussion supplied is better than their own. I am in the very fortunate position of having percussion equipment better than that supplied (9 times out of 10).
    What I am saying is that in a lot of contests you must use the percussion supplied and like it says in the last posting, you tend to get a flat NO if you ask to use your own. I think this is very wrong. I know there is a reason for it, to keep down the length of the contest, but this is not a valid reason. If the contest overruns, it overruns. I've also been in the situation where you're not allowed to even move percussion equipment, this is even worse!!!! How can any contest controller sit there and pontificate on where the percussion must be situated. That decision is up to the MD and not to the contest organisers. If the organisers said that the cornets had to be at the back and the basses in the middle with horns on the front, would the MD's go with that??? I think 90% would object very strongly and I think it's about time someone did on behalf of the percussion section!!

    Also in reply to Neil Twists point, when they sent u through the plans of where percussion was going to go, did they also send you through a plan as to which notes would be available in what order on each timp? If they did then you are very fortunate and it's the first time I've ever heard of it

    I thnk prcussionists get a raw deal at contests and it's about time things were done. If you want to use the percussion supplied, fine, go ahead but my point is that you shouldn't HAVE to.
  6. BoozyBTrom

    BoozyBTrom Member

    Thats weird Neil!!!! They let our sections make alterations and use some of thier own gear.
  7. Keppler

    Keppler Moderator Staff Member

    Just out of interest, the Irish Association seems to have changed their minds on this this year. At our nationals in 2 weeks ( :shock: ), I believe that all bands must supply their own percussion..
  8. neiltwist

    neiltwist Active Member

    that's what our band secretary said at least.
  9. Valvecap

    Valvecap Member

    We have been told the same in the past - not allowed to move the percussion and not allowed to take your own percussion (own snare drum for example) - suppose this makes it a fair playing field across the bands - so if you get a well off band with lots of really decent kit, they dont have an advantage over a less well off band. but surely if thats the case, perhaps booseys (or whatever they are called now) should provide a whole set of instruments as well.... crikey - that would be a nightmare!!!!
  10. picju96

    picju96 Member

    Our percussionist took his own cymbals and the band's glock to the areas this time, noone complained or told him not to...
  11. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Crikey, BBT, don't let Les catch you saying things like that!

    For the record, contest secs. are sent a list of supplied percussion and a stage plan. Named big instruments must remain static (since at Darlington the stage area is quite small and to move timps from stage left to stage right requires a fairly major chair/percussion-shifting exercise and takes too long when repeated 12 times...). Everything else can be moved.

    Everyone plays the kit provided but if for logistic reasons you need an extra suspended cymbal or glock) then you can augment the kit with your own gear, on the understanding that you still play the gear provided.

    Ray Payne provides all the percussion equipment for the North of England Regional so it is always of a very high standard; as a bonus Ray was around for the whole weekend in case of problems.

  12. BoozyBTrom

    BoozyBTrom Member

    Merely Stating a fact Mr Mute. Cant be reprimanded for that. it was possibly the smaller stuff our guys went on to shift.

    Ray Payne what a top guy!!!
  13. Brian

    Brian Member

    Supplied Percussion

    Hey where have you been this last year ? Do you remember what time the 3rd? section finished at Torquay...and you want to have 10minutes to set up...thats another 3hrs plus on 20bands is that fair on other bands ?I must say that in my observations of percussionists over the years, you are very typical, you seem to want to be a rule unto yourselves, and that is not good for the movement...There are some fine percussionists, who can set up equipment very quickly,( and within the 4minute rule) and then there are others, constantly moaning about their lot...It's very easy to critisise Contest Organisers, wether it be at National or local level...Try it yourself sunshine....I have and it's thankless....
  14. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Most of the percussion at SCABA events is our percussion, so I guess, it's the same standard of what we're used to playing!

    and Brian ... yes I do rememebr we were playing ..... reslts at 12.30am ---- gotta be joking ---- and we still went out drinking! :D

    Well - thats banding for you! :D

    ben :D
  15. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Thatz strange --- In L&SC we are told explicity (in the case of Celestial Prospect) to bring everything except the Bass Drum --- and even then, it was dire --- it was far too big! This meant that we had to bring snare drum, bass drum (on t'floor), cymbals ........... so .... is it different rules for different counties??
  16. bagpuss

    bagpuss Active Member

    Oh dear, looks like someone's got the wrong end of the stick (no pun intended) again. :shock:

    I always have and always do set up the percussion in the four minutes allowed, usually in a lot less than that. I am not complaining about the 'percussionists lot'. What I am complaining about is what in my experience has been very poor quality percussion equipment supplied at some contests. I still stand by my assessment that the four minute rule should be amended, I'm not suggesting 10 minutes, I'm suggesting it be looked at again by the powers that be. Yes I do remember torquay, I played there in the 4th section contest. I also remember that it was a big stage with pleanty of room to move things around, I also remember that the timps were poor to say the least and that even though we had the stage plan some weeks earlier, it doesn't tell you what notes are on which timps so that you can plan for changes etc in rehearsals.

    What I would suggest is that instead of saying that every band MUST use the supplied percussion, the organisers/controllers/contesting council/whoever should say that percussion that is supplied CAN be used if an individual band wants to. If they want to cart their percussion from one oned of the country to the other (in the case of national; finals etc), thean that would be up to them. In this instance, a band should have for example 6 minutes to set up instead of the mandatory 4 minutes. In this way, every band gets chance to settle themselves before starting and it would only add (in the case of 3rd section at torquay) 40 minutes to the total contest time.

    If bands have a problem with what time contests start and finish, this is something they should take up with contest organisers/contesting council/whoever.

    Just referring back to the point made about percussionists moaning all the time. I don't think that's quite true. But in any case, even if it is, try replacing a tuba players instrument just before they go on stage and see what sort of reaction you get from them. I'm sure it would be similar to the 'moaning' you are getting from me

  17. neiltwist

    neiltwist Active Member

    doubt it bagpuss! they probably wouldn't even notice!

    I played in the first section, so timps were the only percussion that were very important, or at least more than the rest.
  18. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    I think that your point about the range of timps is a useful one. The same should be true of bells and other tuned percussion which can vary widely. (Prague needed a bell note below the range of our instrument).

    Allowing percusionists to play on their own equipment can be problematic, especially when there is a large entry of bands. The timing can make all the difference to coach drivers' tacho hours - an increasingly important factor - and there are also storage implications at many contest venues. I remember seeing a line of nearly 50 timps waiting to go onto the stage at Reading Contest a few years ago! (Yes, I counted them - how sad is that???)

    Pianists and organists accept that they can't carry their instruments around with them and they accept that it is their responsibility to perform well on different instruments. In my experience most decent percussionists have become accustomed to being equally adaptable.

    When we need a guest percussionist for a gig, the expectation is that the band will provide the gear - OK they might bring a kit, but Tubular bells? Tam-tam? Keyboards? When I book percussionists for orchestral work, one of the common conditions is that I provide the timps. So why is it that it's OK to play on borrowed instruments at all times except at band contests?

  19. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I agree that pianists and organists do not expect to carry their own instruments around with them, but equally they would expect to have more than a few seconds in order to check the instrument was in tune, adjust to its action etc. I am amazed at how adaptable most of our percussionists are, but so many bandsmen fail to understand the difficulties in playing percussion effectively.

    Mention was made previously of a bass drum that was felt to be too large for the purpose - contrary to most people's thinking, the bass drum is one of the hardest instruments to play effectively, and there are vast differences in effect depending on the tension of the drum, and whereabouts it is struck (one of the hardest parts for any instrument in orchestral writing is in the Berlioz Hungarian March, where you have three strokes getting progressively louder - when played well the effect is tremendous, but misjudge any one and the effect is lost). I really feel that our percussionists are at a grave disadvantage in a contest setting. By all means impose a time rule, but, especially at the Albert hall or Birmingham, where there is plenty of space, allow them to use their own kit if they prefer.
  20. michellegarbutt

    michellegarbutt Supporting Member

    I can understand why percussion is provided but at the same time there should be some flexibility and common sense applied

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