No One Plays the Ratchet or Why Percussionists are Awesome

In December of 2010, I had the privilege of being part of a guest choir at a orchestral concert. The concert was fabulous, but I found it curious that there were two of the members of the orchestra who never played anything. In fact, they were not even on stage. They were simply sitting in the front row, they seemed to be waiting for something.

After intermission, all was revealed to me. The orchestra had prepared a musical version of A Christmas Carol called Scrooge. It was done with very little acting. It was interactive so there was certain parts where members of the orchestras choir would queue the audience members to do something. Lots of fun. But what was really cool was that these two people, who had been sitting throughout the whole first half, finally got their turn up at bat.

It was fascinating. Between the two of them there were at least 25 instruments that needed playing. They had to be a complete team. Although each instrument was predominantly played by one musician, occasionally one musician would reach over and play one of his companions instruments if the other guy was already engaged. There was a huge variety of things; ratchets, chimes, plain old drums, and things that probably are not used terribly frequently in music. Most of them were use to express certain things that is not normally in music, like the opening of a door, or the falling of snow. But it added to the music all the same.

Now, do not confuse a percussionist as I describe it with a drummer. Although drummers are percussionists in ever sense of the word, these two were very different from drummers. I loved watching them. If you ever go to a musical like this one, watch the percussionists, I guarantee you will find them awesome.

Here I have a video for you of the Celtic Women. Now, the Celtic Women are excellent musicians, but they could not be what they are without the musicians who back them up. One really cool thing to watch is the percussionists. They have a drum set that completely encircles them, as well as other little odds and ends that they use on occasion. Although the video naturally focuses on the singers themselves, the Drummers are featured quite a bit as well. Take a look!