Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Fanfare for the Common Man

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Fanfare for the Common Man

‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ is an instrumental piece of music adapted and played by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, from the group's 1977 Works Volume I album. Adapted by Keith Emerson from Aaron Copland's 1942 piece of the same name, it is one of their most popular and enduring pieces.

ELP had previously adapted Copland's ‘Hoedown’ for the band's Trilogy album in 1972. Although ELP did not always initially attribute the classical source for some of their pieces (only attributed in later releases of the albums), Copland was attributed as the source for both Hoedown and Fanfare. Unlike Bartók and Janáček, Copland was still alive at the time of the recording. According to Keith Emerson, “...it needed transposing, so I did that first. I wanted to improvise in a key that was sort of bluesy. It ended up in E. The rest of it was straightforward, really. You know, in order to get the shuffle sound, the timing had to be changed, but it was common sense.”

While in Montreal, during their 1977 tour of America, the band was rehearsing in the basement of the Olympic stadium, the only space available sufficiently large to accommodate themselves and the orchestra. During a coffee break, Lake took the lift upstairs, and was struck by the spectacle of the empty stadium under a carpet of snow, and was inspired to hold a jam session in the unique environment. They organized for their equipment to be set up early the following morning, and a video recordist to document the proceedings. Despite the extreme cold, the trio, dressed in their warmest gear, completed a version of Fanfare in four separate "takes", filming each member individually, then one of the trio assembled.

Stewart Young, ELP's manager from 1972–present, made this comment on the documentary Beyond the Beginning: “The interesting thing... was that we had to get the permission of Aaron Copland, the composer. The publishing house said forget it. So I got Mr Copland's home number, called him up and he was very friendly on the phone. And he says "Send it to me, let me listen." And he loved it. He called me and said "This is brilliant, this is fantastic. This is doing something to my music."

In 2008, this served as the wake-up music for the crew of the space shuttle Endeavor, chosen by mission pilot Eric Boe, and again in 2011 for the Atlantis crew embarking on the final Space Shuttle mission. John Williams' classic 1978 Superman theme shares a similar horn melody to the fanfare, which is often cited as an influence.

Label –  Atlantic
Songwriters – Aaron Copland, arr. Keith Emerson
Producer – Greg Lake


It’s an instrumental song – just relax and enjoy.

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