A professional composer and arranger with over 900 choral titles in print and over 30 million copies in circulation. He is the most widely performed composer/arranger of popular choral music in the world today. Mr. Emerson has been the recipient of ASCAP’s Standard Award for 20 years running and his works have been performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He is in constant demand as a lecturer on pop music and the changing voice and has appeared at numerous MENC and ACDA conferences.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
I have a converted 400 sq. ft. garage, grand piano, Roland FP-5, IMAC, Finale, Roland JV-1080 Sound module.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
It depends on the focus. If it is a current pop tune, I’ll do a lot of listening to the original, determine optimum key for the average school ensemble and dive in. The nice thing about computerized engraving is that you can always “do over” or move elements around. If it is an original or public domain piece, I spend a lot of time improvising chords while singing the vocal lines over the top before I start notating.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
That most people appreciate easier piano parts. As a guitarist, they are often my biggest challenge.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
Cut and Paste, Key changes, templates and as an “aural” arranger, I utilize the playback with authentic sounds as much as possible.
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
So many! But I’m best known for Shoshone Love Song and Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel. My favorite pop arrangements are probably Africa, Waving Through A Window, and Joyful, Joyful…oh and You Raise Me Up. All can be found at www.halleonard.com and most have scoreplay by googling the title and my name.