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Chris Snyder on Adoro Music Publishing

Chris Snyder discusses Adoro Publishing Company.


Chris Snyder double-majored in computer science and music. He sings in two choirs and plays violin, piano, and organ. In 2008, he founded Adoro Music Publishing to better serve composers and customers of new sacred music, especially organ and choral music.

Why do composers choose to publish with Adoro Music Publishing?

Many composers feel that a lot of the best music isn’t being accepted by publishers. Many publish only what sells best. That tends to leave some markets underserved, especially for traditional sacred music. Composers who self-publish find that it’s hard to market successfully unless they’re already well-known. Technology has made it less expensive for publishers to release new music, but the royalty structure hasn’t changed. We pay double the royalty that most publishers do.

One composer I work with has a few hundred works in print. He says that traditional companies do great print distribution, and new startups do great online distribution. He says we do both well. We create high quality covers to convey the music. Ken Medema told me about a choir that liked an Adoro cover so well that they decided to not use their folders,so the congregation could see the illustrations.

How is buying from Adoro different than how church choir directors, organists, or music leaders usually get music?

My mom directs the Christmas choir at our church. I saw that it should be easier for people to find, look at, buy, and use music. With the consolidation in the industry, there are fewer stores where you can find good stock to browse. If you want to look at a back catalog piece, a retailer has to order a sample copy for you. If you go to a publisher’s website, you can’t view the whole piece online.

Our customers can see full scores on our website, and, for some pieces, listen to it performed. They can purchase a PDF download right away, say for a memorial service. We ship archival-quality printed scores within one business day. Our scores are elegantly printed. Also, since I’m a musician, I tweak music engraving software so a page turn is more convenient or a measure break is easier to sight read.

What’s the purpose of the Everything That Has Breath series that you’ve launched with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship?

It’s a series of instrumental accompaniments designed for congregational singing. Robert Nordling, a Calvin College music professor, is the editor for the series. Our goal is do six to twelve pieces or more a year. Each Everything That Has Breath (ETHB) arrangement comes with a spiral-bound conductor’s score, a full printed set of instrumental parts, and a CD. The CD has PDFs of instrumental parts, biographic information and performance suggestions from the arranger, and hymn texts and music formatted for bulletins and projection systems.

I heard that you designed software that gives directors online access to custom-transposed parts. Can you say more about that?

Various companies produce instrumentation for use in worship. Mostly you buy a book with ten pieces and then buy a book for each part—the violin score, the trumpet score…If you want to use an instrument that’s not in your book, you have to do it yourself. Most directors are quite used to transposing and transcribing, but it’s busy work.

When you buy an ETHB arrangement, you get online access to custom-transposed parts. We’ve included enough transposition and clef options to work with almost any instrumentation. I wrote the software that interacts with LilyPond music engraving software to give it the correct commands for transposing. ETHB is currently our only series with custom transposing. We plan to go back and add it throughout the catalog. If people ask, we can put a piece into software form that can be transposed.

Which kinds of churches are using, or would benefit most from, Adoro?

They’re not from any particular denomination but they care about music that’s consistent, with a thoughtful reading of scripture. They tend more to lead music from the organ or piano than from a praise band. And they want to make life easier for their music staff.

How might a small church use Adoro?

Say they want to use “Blessed Assurance” from ETHB. It was written for string quartet but can be adjusted for other instruments. We plan to add keyboard reductions that incorporate all the parts, so if you had just a pianist and two instrumentalists, you’d assign two parts and the pianist would double two parts.

Our “Fanfare on ST. KEVIN” by Raymond H. Haan is for organ and two optional trumpets. If you have a small choir and email or call to say, “We only have treble voices,” or “We need music for a particular season,” then I can steer you to pieces in our catalog that work well for smaller choirs.

Listen to David C. Brinson’s “Improvisation on PICARDY.” This Adoro organ piece works well as a prelude for an Advent lessons and carols service.