danny elfman


But, really it was finding a kind of a vibe and letting that vibe carry the movie. And did I bring anything new to the mix? I don't know.

But, when it comes to all the other little instruments, of which there's a lot in the stuff I've done the last couple of years, I do it all myself.

Doing Tim's film is always going to be the most pleasure. Let me just put it that way. So, without drawing favorites one way or the other, getting back with him and doing Mars Attacks! was certainly a special treat.

Even though it is still technically long hours and a lot of work, just because of our history it was really fun. It kind of brought us back to - it was really very much like when I was doing Beetlejuice, I felt the same way.

Everything he thought was one way was about to turn backwards on him. And the scene was shot in this great way that I really liked. It had this uneasiness, this claustrophobia.

Having ten melodies was also a huge challenge, because I usually have three - sometimes just one or two, but often three that I'm using.

I can't get that live and I don't have the time to take the tape, after I've finished recording it, into a little studio somewhere else where I can get a different kind of percussion sound.

I don't see myself necessarily having a burning desire to write a symphony.

I don't think I've ever not had a main title. And to not have the main title and still have him (10 minutes, 15 minutes into the score) knowing where the melodies are going was hard.

I had to do this very aggressive, big score in a very short time, and knowing that in the beginning, middle, and end would be this very, very famous theme, but I still had to weave a score around it and make it work as a score was really challenging.

I had to just plant those in very subtle ways. That's a real important thing for me. By 15 or 30 minutes in if you can't tell where a melody's going once you start hearing it, then you didn't do your job right. Even if it's totally unconscious.

I like creating these rhythmic patterns. These interlocking rhythmic things are really fun.

I really liked doing a number of the projects and directors, and etc., etc., I knew about half-way through that I would never be doing that again. It's just not me. I really am happy as a part-time film composer, not a full-time film composer.

I suppose that's the beauty of writing a concerto or a symphony. And maybe that's what I'll have to do. But, when you're laying in music behind a film, you always have to harness yourself against the images.

I think that there's a lot more freedom in the low budget, the independent films where, unfortunately, you don't have the money, necessarily, to get the orchestras in there to play a lot of stuff. But, you have a lot more freedom, very often.

I think that's one of the reasons I've been trying to build my own studio for the last couple of years, just so I could spend more time goofing around on my own clock, as it were, with my own percussion.

I think that's one of the things that has always put me in kind of an odd niche. It's that all of my understanding of orchestral music is via film, not via classical music like it's supposed to be. To me it's the same, it doesn't make any difference.

I was trying to create a nauseous texture that was building underneath and growing and growing as it became apparent how his whole head was being turned upside-down, basically, in that scene.

I would have to say I might do some stuff, but it's the film that's appealing. I was raised on film. My musical experience is all via film, it's not from classical music.

I'll just start laying out the melody exactly where I want it to fall. And then I'll go back and fill it out. Whereas, in other pieces I'm really just going a couple bars at a time.

I'll look back and I'd be better to answer that in about three months from now. Or when the movie comes out and I see it. I don't even know what it is yet. I've still been in the middle of it.

I'm always tapping into my 12-year-old mind-set when I'm scoring. You know, everybody does. That's the whole thing.

I'm looking for a feel and I have to find what that feel is before I can move on from there. I'm not necessarily catching stuff in such a simple way - I don't need to. So, I'm going for something else.

I'm trying to interpret the film through the director's head, but it all comes out through me. So, a composer is kind of like a psychic medium.

In other words, all my conversations with my musical idols are always with ghosts. They're all dead! And this was very peculiar, because here I was very consciously making a nod to someone who was very much alive and kicking.

In some types of music I'm working out all the chords one bar at a time - the whole structure, because it's about that. And there are other pieces which are really about - okay, the melody is going to start here and play through to here.

In Tim's films the tone is the most important thing that the score can do. In any unusual film, finding the tone makes such a big difference.

In Tim's films, more than most, if you miss the tone, you don't get the film.

It sounds really stupid, I hate making cosmic comments like this but, I just let it do what it wants to do.

It's hard to get a film, you know, you need a very special film to be able to get that experimental. But, I would love to see that happen. I would love the opportunity to be more experimental than I am.

It's hard to hear unless you really broke it down, but sometimes there are like 10, 15 tracks of tiny sticks on the side of the snare drum and hitting little metal things lightly, finger cymbals. So, I can create these rhythmic patterns.

It's just hard. I wish the studios felt there was more value in these themes and these pieces of material - that they're worth protecting more. Because then it just wouldn't happen. If the studios cared, the stuff would be stopped in a second.

Just to constantly - even if it's only for three seconds at a time, or two seconds, or five seconds, remind us from whence we came. And it was very difficult trying to keep a balance between the two eras and the two mind-sets.

Most often the music does end up in the movie, and sometimes there's a point where I wish that it wasn't, just because I think the score would be more effective if there was less of it. But, again, that's not my call.

Oh see, first off you gotta realize - everything for me is a reconstruction or deconstruction. I would actually say deconstruction. Mission: Impossible would be the exception. That would be a reconstruction- deconstruction.

Or certainly I would need time - which I would love to have but there almost never is on a film - to just spend a week with a roomful of guys laying down these patterns.

So I've learned in the past, if a company approaches me and they want something like this, or something like that that I've done and I turn them down, they're going to do it anyhow.

So, it becomes an exercise in futility if you write something that does not express the film as the director wishes. It's still their ball game. It's their show. I think any successful composer learns how to dance around the director's impulses.

So, it was real critical to nail the tone to make that clear. There was the sense of, am I seeing a thriller? What is this?

Sometimes I like them artificial and sometimes I like them real. And the reason is because sometimes I like a real close sound. And I like a very specific snare sound and I can't get that in the big room.

Sometimes you get real close, sometimes you don't. Sometimes they drive you crazy. I think every composer does that. That's a big part of the job.

That still has to be there. And so, it's kind of an interesting question you brought up. Because, on the one hand, yeah, it'd be lovely. I certainly don't see that happening. In fact, I see the opposite happening.

The beauty of a main title is that you establish your main theme and maybe a bit of your secondary theme. You plant the seed that you're going to go water later in the score. And so, having that removed just made it so much more difficult.

The first thing I do is lay out that melody and figure out how it has to hold here and then finish to land here, because you know in advance you're going to want the melody to catch four things in the action.

The whole point is that the classical composers we're talking about were also reinventing themselves. Don't you think that any 20th century or late 19th century composer is doing the same thing? They were reinventing things that inspired them.

There's kind of a cool feel that happens every now and then. I guess that feel is the thing that makes the score its own score. But, I don't know exactly what that is. So, it's hard for me to answer that question.

There's nothing I have that could match the sound of real cymbals, gongs, timpani. Those are what they are. Chimes even. And snares, now it crosses the line.

They're really hard to win, these things - to pursue them. They're very slippery. They're very difficult. The studios own the music and they'll never participate. They don't care who uses what when it comes to orchestral music.

To me the fun of having sequencers is that I can lay down these complex percussion things that would be very difficult to do.

To revolve around these rhythmic patterns, I'll lay them down first and make that part of what's driving the piece along, and I can't get that kind of sound in a live orchestra. There's just no way.

Well, maybe I should, but I don't know! Maybe it's time for me to pack my bags and leave town.

What Brian laid out was something that felt really uneasy and bordering on feeling like I was on a boat or something. So I went with that feeling.

Without the music it was kind of hard to tell. People were very confused whether you're allowed to laugh at the stuff that was happening.

You have to nail the right tone because sometimes when you just see his films cold, you're not quite sure. It's the same in - I'm trying to think of other directors with a similar sense - David Lynch's films, Tim's films, some of Cronenberg's stuff.

You have to write a good score that you feel good about. At least, you're supposed to. But, if the director hates it, it ain't going to be in the movie!

You hear the beginning of a melody, you should kind of know it's going to lead down this path. It should start feeling like a friend, like familiar.

You know, there are two sides to Edward's theme. One is the fairy-tale theme. So, that's where I played a little closely to, and maybe a little too closely to. If so, then I did a disservice to myself and I'll regret it for the rest of my life.

You see the hero, you state the theme, you move on. And you have to be able to state it very quickly and clearly - certainly before Korngold there are operas that are the same thing.

You're allowed to rip-off another score so close that it's ridiculous. In my opinion it's ridiculous, how closely one can just rip-off a score that happened a year or two earlier.

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