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Current time:0:00Total duration:11:40

Percussion: Interview and demonstration with principal Chris Devine and members of the percussion section

Video transcript

as a percussionist we do play a lot of instruments a lot of different techniques required to learn to be able to get all the different sounds out of those instruments we have the most fun of anybody in the orchestra we have the lowest of the low pitched instruments the bass drum next to the triangle one of the higher pitched instruments usually single notes or a sustained sound by rolling between the two sides Nazz percussionists we also get to play pitched instruments such as these crow tallies part of the keyboard family for laid out like a piano is laid out with the white notes and the dark key is right here normally we strike them with various types of mallets now we have more fun than anybody else in the orchestra because we get to do things like using a super ball on a stick to make sounds like this and then if we're not making unusual sounds like that we're usually providing rhythm of some sort with another variety of different drums snare drum is a typical one these other drums are the Latin variety bongos and Tim Bali's and then we get to play instruments that are found throughout the world such as this tambourine in many different cultures they have their versions of the tambourine and we have various ways of striking the instrument with our hand and we can play fast by using other parts of our body and then we can shake and make a sustained tone which we call a roll and what would be a percussion section without the crash cymbals and everybody hold your ears fooled you percussion instruments can play loud and soft but of course we all love to play loud and then finally oftentimes we're asked to play mallet instruments which can provide melody like any of the other instruments and and one piece that we've recorded daftness is a very very loud glockenspiel part played on glockenspiel percussion instruments like anything are learned skills and essentially you're learning specific motions required to produce certain sounds and with a lot of practice which that's really the key a lot of practice will give you those the repetition to learn those motions and that's how you develop the different techniques a typical technique to play something like a snare drum just a simple drum would be two sticks one in each hand and the motion is very very simple as far as up and down goes as long as you're only playing one striking the drum with one stick at a time there are different techniques though where you use more than one note per stick and when you combine those that's what we call a roll and it changes the sound quite a bit so it's almost kind of like if you were going to be come a very fast runner you probably wouldn't be very fast at the beginning you would learn how to jog slowly and and comfortably and increase your speed over time it's the same kind of thing with a technique like that symbols can be a little bit different that way in the sense that when you're playing a pair of cymbals what we call crash cymbals you have one in each hand and there's a motion that that you need to prepare in order for the cymbals to strike at exactly the right time when you want them to for the right dynamic that you want them to and hopefully getting the kind of roundness out of the cymbal sound that you also want you can change that slightly by the direction that the cymbals meet in other words if they're more up and down you can get a little bit more highs out of them if they're a little bit more side-to-side you can get a bit more lows out of them and that's actually kind of the sound spectrum that the instrument has that you're trying to bring out typically what would happen for something like say the mallet instruments that we play vibraphone xylophone glockenspiel marimba chimes these instruments are often their sound is greatly altered by the mallets that we choose to play them with it's not the only way you can alter it but it's the most instantaneous and effective way if you have a mallet that's the material is very hard and dense it's it's going to get a different kind of attack than a mallet that's softer or more malleable so we have a whole variety an array of mallets to choose from sometimes we think this mal is probably good we send our colleague out into the audience to see they come back and say no I can't hear it the attack there's no attack the it's lost in in the in the big orchestration of around us your instruments not pushing through and it needs to be so that's the kind of feedback we need to be able to adjust and know which mallets to use mallet instruments are set up exactly like a piano white keys black keys anybody that can play a piano can play a percussion mallet instrument and I was fortunate enough that my parents got me piano lessons I took five years of piano when I was younger and that was very very helpful to be able to make that transfer my mother and grandmother like to take credit for the fact that they encouraged me to pull out pots and pans in the kitchen on the kitchen floor with wooden spoons that's literally how I started and they they thought it was funny they thought it was cute and of course I loved it I didn't know what I was doing I think once I got into the sixth grade I joined the public band the public school band program and that actually kind of set me on a path to really enjoying music in high school I played with the community Orchestra I experienced all kinds of different music and wanted to be actually a really good drumset player at one point turned and went the orchestral route and fell in level orchestral music and that's really how I ended up being a professional I think I was probably about 16 when I was asked to join this community Orchestra in Pensacola Florida I had recordings of orchestral music but I'd never played live with an orchestra and I remember sitting in a rehearsal my very first rehearsal and listening to this amazing sound of strings surrounding me that I'd never heard before and I totally missed my percussion cue because I wasn't paying attention and that's when I knew wow this is a really really unique situation and I hope that I can somehow do this as a career the public school band program provided the instruments and all the the variety of instruments to learn and I studied privately with the local percussion teacher as I progress though I needed somebody with a higher level of teaching ability I went to I used to drive from Pensacola to Tallahassee Florida which is about three and a half hours away on weekends to take my lessons with a grad student at Florida State University as I got better my my teachers got better obviously and I sought them out and that's really important I think in development is really being being active in finding and searching out the best teachers you possibly can because they're out there and they're willing to help you Oh