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This is a review of the Danny Elfman Teaches Music for Film class from MasterClass!
The MasterClass Instructor – Danny Elfman
This class opens with an engaging introduction to Danny Elfman. Danny talks about what he hopes students will learn from this class, while we see numerous images from some of the movies Danny has composed. In this class his goal is to show students how to approach a project and share how he gets through certain aspects of his own projects.
Danny Elfman is an American film composer from Los Angeles, California. He has scored more than 100 films, including Good Will Hunting, Milk, Men in Black, Alice in Wonderland, Coraline, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Dumbo, and The Grinch. He also wrote the theme music of The Simpsons, Desperate Housewives, and Tales from the Crypt.
For more than 30 years, Danny has established himself as one of the most versatile and accomplished film composers in the industry. He’s been nominated for four Oscars and has collaborated with directors such as Tim Burton, Gus Van Sant, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, Rob Minkoff, Guillermo del Toro, Brian De Palma, James Ponsoldt, and David O. Russell.
Danny Elfman has created an intriguing class that combines his own experiences with great instruction about the process of scoring an entire film. He talks about everything from how to approach the spotting session to how to work with directors.
Music for Film – Who is it for?
This class is for anyone interested in composing music for film! Whether you are just starting your career or already have experience, this class attempts to establish a great foundation while also focusing on insights to Danny Elfman’s tricks of the trade. For those who are just starting out, Danny specifically provides a lesson on advice to new composers.
MasterClass Danny Elfman – Main Themes
- Music out of chaos
- Learn your craft
MasterClass Workbook – Danny Elfman
The workbook for this class provides a great tool to use as a reference when following along with the video lessons. The workbook provides a detailed review of every lesson, along with some great resources for further learning. The workbook outlines many of Danny Elfman’s more famous films, along with information about famous composers who influenced Danny. Throughout the lesson reviews there are also small sections that provide tasks for viewers to practice the ideas talked about in the review and video lesson.
MasterClass Music for Film Key Takeaways
In this class viewers get an inside look at how Danny Elfman approaches composing a film score. The class goes through the entire process and hits many key topics including, storytelling through music, instrumentation, orchestration, themes and melodies, workflow, and how to deal with insecurities and instincts. Danny also includes lessons that focus on analyzing his score in Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and how to work with directors.
You want [the audience] to go, ‘I’m not sure if this character is good or bad. Maybe they’re both.’ And you can do that with the music.
What I found really interesting about this class was Danny’s lesson on storytelling through music. He walks viewers through how to use music to tell a story, but also how to use music to make viewers feel something about a character or event. During this analysis he uses examples from a variety of famous films, which really highlight the evolution of music in films and how it impacts the progression of a film.
Final Thoughts on Danny Elfman’s MasterClass
I loved this class! It drew me in from the very beginning and really provides viewers with an inside look into Danny Elfman’s process and tricks of the trade. The class explores a wide variety of topics, which provides a great overview of composing a score. If you are interested in a class that really dives into the details of music for film, this is the class for you!
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