Carnegie Mellon University

Scott Wasserman, Electronic Music Designer and Orchestrator

Orchestrating Innovative and Immersive Musical Experiences

“Hamilton” would have no shot to throw away without Scott Wasserman (CFA 2010). He’s an electronic music designer, which means he takes a traditional score from a work of film, television or theater and integrates digitally generated musical elements with sound effects, lighting cues and stage projections that immerse audiences in stories.

In “Hamilton,” you’ll experience his work prominently during the Burr/Hamilton duel, where his additions build to the fatal gunshots and sidestep into Hamilton’s monologue at the show’s climax.

“The goal is to enhance the sound of the music that the composer intends to convey and bring modern elements into musical theater,” Scott says. “With ‘Hamilton,’ the intent of the composer was to make a musical that sounded like contemporary hip-hop and give the audience the experience of listening to an album or concert at every performance. My job is to turn that intent into reality.”

It’s all made possible using an electronic music cue system first designed for live DJs. Scott was one of the first to see its potential for theatrical productions. He programs the sounds or other effects, then coaches a member of the pit orchestra to trigger the cues in time with the performance.

Involved with “Hamilton” from its earliest stages, Scott’s work with the music team was recognized with a Grammy. His team won another for “Dear Evan Hansen.” You will also hear his work in “Diana: The Musical” on Netflix and both “Bhangin’ It: A Bangin’ New Musical” and “The Karate Kid —The Musical” coming this year.

“I'm always looking for ways to surprise listeners by adding new sounds to the mix. Electronic music design opens up the possibilities for the sound palette of a show,” Scott says. “Musicals can reflect more contemporary and varied genres and my work can enhance narrative aspects of a show.”

Story by Elizabeth Speed