Friday, April 23, 2010


"Funny thing though, most folks haven't a clue about Elfman's past. "Most places I go people will say 'You were in a band? What was the name of the band?' I'll go 'Oingo Boingo' to which they'll give me kind of a blank stare and go 'Oh…heh-heh-heh, that's amusing.'"

"I grew up on horror and science fiction films, and that's always what I thought I'd be the best at scoring."

"I'd always been interested in film composing, from 12 years old on, but never felt I'd have much of an opportunity to do it in my life. I have no training, noghing. I figured maybe later on when i got too cranky and stiff to hop around on a concert stage, I would try to break in. And if I was lucky, at some point in my life I'd get to be in front of am orchestra"

"Film composing was something that dropped into my lap from heaven, as they say. In fact, I went through a lot of guilt last year because all of a sudden I was a recognized Hollywood film composer who had paid no dues whatsoever in the field. I figured, though, a decade and a half of dues-paying on the rock 'n' roll circut maybe counterbalances the scale a bit."

"Scoring is something I intend to keep doing, because it's fulfilling a lifelong ambition," he said. "I idolize Bernard Herrmann. I'm doing little television scores in between film scores because Herrmann did. Television's a wonderful composers' workshop, because you can experiment with small ensembles."

"Composing is just like acting. When you get typecast, you have to consiciously breakout of that, and it's hard. But twice a year I ask for a month off from the band. And if I'm lucky enough that an interesting film happens to be scoring right at that time, I'll do it. Obviously, it's difficult to have a career that way. I've passed up some excllent films, but I'm in no rush. Film composing isn't a short-term career. It's not like rock 'n' roll. It's not like you've got this limited life-span built into it. Once you're in, you're in, unless you start doing horrible work or get senile."

Stage & Screen
Soundtrack, Score

PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985) / BACK TO SCHOOL (1986) - Original Motion Picture Scores (1988)

Composed By - Danny Elfman
Conductor - John Coleman
Contractor - Sidney Sax
Engineer - Mike Ross (
Engineer [Second Engineer] - Dave Knight
Executive Producer - Michael Bowler , Richard Kraft (
Orchestra - National Philharmonic Orchestra (
Other [Prepared For Release On Varese Sarabande By] - Tom Null
Recording Supervisor [Score Supervisor] - Steve Bartek
Remix - Bobby Fernandez (




01 Overture/The Big Race
02 Breakfast Machine
03 Park Ride
04 Stolen Bike
05 Hitchhike
06 Dinosaur Dream
07 Simone's Theme
08 Clown Dream
9 Studio Chase
10 The Drive-In
11 Finale


12 Overture
13 "Do Not Go Gently..."
14 The Brawl
15 Action Medley
16 Classroom Secretary
17 Triple Lindy
18 Love Suite
19 Study Montage



01 Overture/The Big Race
02 Breakfast Machine
03 Park Ride
04 Stolen Bike
05 Hitchhike
06 Stunt Bike
07 Securing The Bike
08 Mario's Cool Stuff
09 Where's My Bike
10 I Know Who Has My Bike
11 Breaking Into Buxtons
12 The Meetin Part I.
13 The Meetin Part II.
14 Madam Ruby's And The Journey Begins
15 The Bike Makes Cameo
16 The Roadblock
17 Pee-Wee Drives
18 Large Marge Part 1.
19 Large Marge Part 2.
20 The Dinosaur
21 Going Inside Dino
22 The Bone Chase
23 The Bike Dream
24 The Alamo
25 Theres No Basement
26 Goodbye And Thanks For The Help
27 Eluding In The Parade
28 Toro Toro
29 Tequila
30 The Hospital dream
31 Hollywood Ca.
32 The Movie Studio
33 Bike Found And The Big Chase Part 1.
34 The Big Chase Part 2.
35 The Pet Store Fire
36 The Drive In
37 End Credits

Links to download:

More info:

In 1985 Elfman had his first Top 40 hit with the title song for the movie Weird Science. After working on his brother's movie Forbidden Zone, he was asked to write scores for Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Back to School, Wisdom, and most recently "Summer School."

You mentioned being frequently imitated. What would be the most emulated score, then, Batman?

"No, actually, weirdly enough, Pee-Wee and Beetlejuice were, more than anything else, things that I would hear all over the place suddenly... [On Peewee] I took a wild chance and did something which seemed outlandish and inappropriate. And I'm glad I did. I didn't look to other comedies and go what would be the safest way to approach this film? I just looked at it and had this idea and told them, "Look, if you want to take a chance, which you're crazy if you do, this is what I would do: I wouldn't even make it feel like an American film. I would make it feel like a European film made in the '60s." Because there's something about the Peewee character that seems very un-contemporary. Comedies at that time basically were putting a combination of light orchestral and pop and rock music in their films.
And even though I had a very strong Nino Rota influence, all of a sudden that became a way to score comedies. It was startling toe; in my mind, I was gonna wreck somebody's movie with my music, and in the next decade I got to hear variations on that music in so many movies..."


""Pee-Wee" is a great score, borrowing from 60's European films (especially Fellini's "8 1/2"), but it seems to be overshadowed by the "Back to School" section. I wonder where the rest of the "Studio Chase" is. Danny, why is there only fifteen minutes of the Pee-Wee score? Danny?"

"The score to Tim Burton's PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE is one Danny Elfman greatest achievements. And for those who are upset about the lack of the film's music on this album [not that I blame you], I have some info. The original masters used to score the film were recorded w/an L.A. union orchestra, an orchestra that would have to be paid an enormous amount of money [and I am talking hundreds of thousands of dollar$] for the masters' release. Given this, 20+ mins of the score was re-recorded w/The National Philharmonic Orchestra [a Lodon orchestra]. Why only 20+ mins? You'll have to ask Danny Elfman or the record label, Varese Sarabande, about that.
I do not have this album, but I do have Danny Elfman's Music For A Darkened Theater Vol 1. which contains excerpts of this score. Since it is re-recorded, one might think that it doesn't sound as good as the original master tapes. Actually, some of the tracks sound identical those in the film, and some are somewhat similar.

Anyway, unless you really REALLY want this score, I suggest you wait for an expanded album, which I have no doubt [given its popularity] will eventually pop up. However this CD is not a total loss. After all, it has some of the best cues: "Main Title", "Breakfast", and "Clown Dream"."

"The music from Back to School and Pee Wee is classic Elfman. It's a great CD to listen to when you're feeling down right silly. Unfortunately, the rights fell into the EVIL hands of Varese Sarabande. I don't know how they managed to cut so much out that they fit TWO scores into one half hour. Other than the fact that I loathe Varese Sarabande with a passion for time and time again depriving me of so much music, this CD is still a good buy."

"I absolutely love this CD. Why they felt the need to tack on the Back to School music is beyond me, but the tracks from Pee Wee's Big Adventure are fabulous and a treat to listen to."

More reviews:

WISDOM (1986) (Original Soundtrack)

Music Composed and Performed by Danny Elfman
Arranged and Produced by Steve Bartek and Danny Elfman
Engineers - Bill Jackson (check Boingo albums and see: and Stephen Shelton


01 Change Of Life
02 The Mirror
03 The Passion Of Wisdom
04 Job Search
05 The Big Heist
06 Karen Decides
07 Close Call In Albuquerque
08 The Face Off
09 Trouble
10 The Shootout
11 Wisdom Phone Home
12 Heist (Part Two)
13 Karen Bites The Bullet
14 In The Desert
15 Finale
16 Main Titles

Link to download:

More info:

"One of Elfman's best scores, before Batman, was written for a non-comedy, Wisdom, a box-office failure directed and written by and starring Emelio Estevez, who at least had the good sense to hire Elfman to do the music.
"It was a real departure when I did it, which is why I wanted to do it. Also, I liked Emelio, and I still do, and for me, as a composer, he's the kind of person that's really fun to work with. Absolutely open to ideas in any way, shape, or form. He doesn't have a lot of preconceptions. Also, the reason I wanted to do the score was that it was to be all synthesizers, and this was my chance to do my totally inorganic score, something all done on synthetic instruments. It was also my first non-comedy and I really enjoied doing it. There was a lot of music, which all had to be performed, and I had to do it, and I'm not a very good keyboard player." When it was suggested that the score compared favorably to the type of electronic scores created by Tangerine Dream, Elfman claimed that not only would that have been unintentional, but that he isn't much of a fan of the eclectic German band. "I think they are the Muzak of comtemporary film music. The idea of composing cues without having seen the film, and sending it to the director who simply lays it into the film, just rubs me the wrong way." However, like the Dream's best scores, Elfman admits to have been looking for something "very tribal and hyptnotic.""

"Good score, has a surprising amount of depth for a synthesized (as opposed to an orchestral) score. A couple of the tracks here were included on the Elfman compilation Music For A Darkened Theatre Volume 1...but not in their entirety. A nice addition to anyone's film music library, and a must have for Elfman fans."

"Danny Elfman, typically known for orchestral scores, along with being the lead singer for Oingo Boingo, makes a dazzling synthesized contribution to die for.

Basically, this soundtrack is consistent of a unique blend of pianos, synthetic keyboards, and some nice percussion here and there - a definitive MUST for all synthesizer soundtrack fans out there!"

More review:

BIG TOP PEE WEE (Original Soundtrack) (1988)

Composed By - Danny Elfman
Conductor - William Ross (
Vocals - Pee-Wee Herman ( 02, 04, 22, 29)
Edited By - Dick Bernstein ( and
Engineer [Assistant] - Susan McLean ( Executive Producer - Debra Hill ( , Paul Reubens (
Mastered By - Stephen Marcussen (check Boingo albums and see: and
Mixed By [Music Scoring Mixer] - Dan Wallin (
Written-by [Additional] - Chuck Rio (track 30)
Orchestrated By - Steve Bartek , Steven Scott Smalley ( and, William Ross
Producer - Danny Elfman


01 Main Title
02 The Girl On The Flying Trapeze
03 Pee-Wee Flies
04 Happy House/Pee-Wee Herman Had A Farm
05 Rise 'N Shine
06 The Greenhouse
07 Sneaky Walk
08 Race To School
09 The Big Storm
10 Pee-Wee To The Rescue/Lion Problems
11 Where's Midge?
12 Circus Parade
13 Sad Drive Home
14 Circus In The House
15 Happy Circus
16 Zsa Zsa's Delight/Elephant Ride
17 The Big Kiss
18 Rejection
19 Mace's Speech
20 Man To Man
21 Psycho Winnie
22 Rimprovero
23 I Love You
24 Pee-Wee Tries/Town Spies
25 The Side Show
26 Pee-Wee's Love Theme
27 Angry Mob
28 Transformation
29 Big Top Finale
30 Pee-Wee's Big Surprise
31 End Credits

Link to download:

More info:

"Elfman scored the follow-up to Pee Wee's Big Adventure, the rather lamentable Big Top Pee Wee. Despite the sorely missed touch of director Tim Burton, Elfman once again fashioned a delightful score, giving fuller vent to his penchant for Rota-like themes, especially given the film's circus setting. "The most frustrating thing about the second Pee Wee film was that I couldn't use any of the same themes from the first film, because each was released by a different film company. I would really have loved to use the main theme from the first film, which already contained the circus motif.""

The specter of Nino Rota would come back several years later as the guiding influence on Elfman's first major Hollywood score, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, a surprise commercial and critical success, and, more importantly, the beginning of the collaboration between Elfman and director Tim Burton
( Citing both Rota ( and Bernard Herrmann ( as his two big influences while growing up, Elfman was able to utilize references to both mentors in the film.

"I was looking for a type of music that was very innocent and light. Bringing in the Nino Rota element felt right for me, because his music had a deeply European/Italian flavor, and I really wanted to find an appeal for Pee Wee that had nothing to do with the country or place that he lived in, because the character was very much out of synch as an American entity, and so I wanted to find something that immediately put him over as something from another world living here. And the innocent and European quality of the music was something that I just thought would work." As for the Herrmann touch, Elfman was able to draw from that reservoir in some of the film's more inspires dream sequences. "There was some strange and wonderful music of Herrmann's that influenced me, in particular, Jason and the Argonauts, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and Mysterious Island. I was enamored of those three, and I'm constantly touching on those scores whenever I am in a fantasy element."

Ironically, when director Tim Burton and Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) first discussed the type of score they wanted for the film, the names of both Rota and Herrmann had come up. That, combined with their interest in a "non-traditional" film composer, led them to give the job to Elfman, who had never done an orchestral score, an who had no experience or training in that genre. "I thing they wanted to find a musical approach that wouldn't be the obvious route for comedy. And I have a theory as to why I became known and successful in that field, in that a lot of composers just don't know what to do with comedy, that they really put their major efforts into serious, dramatic films, and that they think comidies are something they can do in their sleep, and that's pretty much been the tradition of American comedy music, ever since the Jerry Lewis movies. so to really apply yourself towards a 'silly comedy' is something that not a lot of composers will do. I just know that for me, Pee Wee's Big Adventure was my first real film, and that I was going to apply myself one-hundred percent."

Elfman is also gracious and generous in citing the help he received on the score. "This was a movie that had a lot of hip points and a lot of precise timing, and Steve Bartek, the guitarist for Oingo Boingo, who worked as an arranger with me on Pee Wee's Big Adventure, and has since become my orchestrator on my other films, also helped me out a lot."

"An entertaining Elfman score (his second for a Pee-Wee Herman project) that culminates in the rousing "Big Top Finale" number, featuring a large portion of the cast. Not Elfman's best-remembered score, but it does have some very bright moments."

"I really don't know what to say about this soundtrack.
Lots of circus music...
If you are a die hard PEE-WEE fan, then this is for you.
If you are a die hard Danny Elfman fan, then this is also for you, but I doubt anyone will likely listen to it over and over.
I bought it because I'm a die hard fan of Elfman, however I never listen to it. I'd suggest spending your money on "Music for a Darkened Theatre" Elfman's BEST OF CD. It has all the highlights from Big Top that you'd ever really need.

Danny Elfman's score compliments the movie. There are a few snippets of dialogue thru out. It's a fun CD. Not Elfman's best, but great for any collection."

More review:

BEETLEJUICE (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1988)

Co-producer, Orchestrated By -
Steve Bartek
Conductor - Bill Ross* (
Edited By - Bob Badami ( and , Nancy Fogarty (
Mixed By - Bob Fernandez* (
Photography - Jane O'Neal (
Producer, Composed By - Danny Elfman
Performer - Harry Belafonte (tracks 12, 20)


01 Main Titles
02 Travel Music
03 The Book! / Obituaries
04 Enter..."The Family" / Sand Worm Planet
05 The Fly
06 Lydia Discovers
07 In The Model
08 Juno's Theme
09 Beetle-Snake
10 "Sold"
11 The Flier / Lydia's Pep Talk
12 Day-O
13 The Incantation
14 Lydia Strikes A Bargin...
15 Showtime!
16 "Laughs"
17 The Wedding
18 The Aftermath
19 End Credits
20 Jump In Line (Shake, Shake, Senora)

Link to download:

More info:

"But Elfman and Burton were reunited, and spectacularly so, on one of 1988's biggest hits, Beetlejuice, which not only was a terrific film but which contained that year's finest film score (at least according to one noted Fanfare critic). In addition to having a wildly comic/horrific symphonic music, there was the wonderful inspiration of using calypso music in the score.
"That idea came from Tim. We had talked about using more claypso in the score originally, but I felt that it was better just to use it only in regard to the characters of the Maitlands and the type of music they listened to, so that's why "Day-O" had a reason to be there, but not to really use it in the score itself, because I always follow the images and when I looked at the final version of the movie, it just didn't have a 'calypso' feel to it." Elfman's genius in scoring comedies in general, and Beetlejuice in particular, is not to call attention to the comic aspects of the film. "I always believe in playing it straight, whether it's a funny scene or not.""

"Perhaps because he is so honest about his lack of formal musical training, and so generous with his praise of those who assist him in the preparation of his film scores, Elfman has not always been taken seriously, or been treated fairly, by some of his contemporaries. While it is somewhat understandable that some of his scores would be overlooked, rightly or wrongly, due to the films themselves, it was unbelievable that his score for Beetlejuice, surely better than any of the five Oscar nominated scores for 1988, was never even considered. And, when it is suggested that it will be very difficult for the Academy members to ignore his superlative work on Batman, Elfman's response is, "Just watch them. They don't like me." According to Elfman, the Hollywood rumor mill has it that he doesn't write his own scores, he simply farms the material out. "On Beetlejuice, people were giving credit to the guy who we brought in at the very last second as a conductor, during the last three days of scoring. They said, 'Oh yeah, that's Bill Ross, he wrote that.' And the same thing is happening on Batman.""

"Part of being a successful film composer is being able to second-guess what a director means, 'cause they'll start talking to me in abstract terms. Sometimes, they'll start talking to me in musical terms, and I'll say, No, no, stop. Just give me your personal impressions. Scissorhands was so fun to score. The most joy that I've had since Beetlejuice. Just because the score really had a story that was right there. It was very clear. No action sequences. Again, that was the genre that I thought, Never! If you asked me, after I did Pee-wee, What kind of movies could you do, can't you do? I would say, Well, I wouldn't have a clue how to score an action movie or a romantic movie. And then, I find myself doing both. Now I really enjoy romantic scoring, if I can get corny, if it's melodramatic, if it can be in a classic, noncontemporary sense that I really like.

My favorite parts of Darkman and Scissorhands were the more romantic elements of them. And Dick Tracy, too. In fact, that's what attracted me to it...It's so funny, I find myself now really enjoying writing this kind of grand, classical, romantic style that I thought would be the furthest from my instincts, and loving it. Any movie recorded before the '60s—any great old movie— the dialogue and the music is everything. I really hate sound effects. I am sorry. I am totally old-fashioned in my approach to music. I love the way they used to make films. The dialogue, the picture, gave you what was happening; the music gave you the emotion and what the characters were thinking. Now, in most movies, orchestral music is very thin, it sounds shrill. Occasionally, it will pop through. There are directors who still fight for music, but I think they are far in the minority. It is much easier to let sound effects carry the movie. Audiences are used to that. It is easier to get a thrill simply with loud noises."


"Danny Elfman provides one of his most quintessentially Elfman-esque scores for one of Tim Burton's most quintessentially Burton-esque movies, Beetlejuice. The film's dark yet sardonically funny "Main Titles" is among Elfman's all-time best moments, bustling along with a dark joie de vivre (or is it joie de morte?) that defines the spooky fun of both this movie, and his collaboration with Burton. The score's stylized world also includes the ironically perky "Travel Music"; "Incantation," a tensely percussive cue that unfolds into exaggerated brass and ghostly vocals and organs; and the eerily pretty but still whimsical "Lydia Discovers." The tip-toeing pizzicato strings and pianos, and the theatrical brass, organs, harps, and percussion that appear on every track — most definitively on tracks like "Enter...The Family / Sand Worm Planet" — underline the film's live-action cartoonishness, with the music's hyperactive shifts, and the addition of Harry Belafonte's "Jump In Line" and "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" just adding another layer of quirkiness to the whole thing. A perfect mix of silliness and spookiness, Beetlejuice remains one of Elfman's most consistent scores." (

"When I bought this album, I originally bought it just for the songs by Harry Belafonte, but the more and more I listen to this album, the more I begin to listen to the expertise of conductor Danny Elfman. While listening, you can't help but replay the movie in your head. This album is just one of many great compositions by the genius Danny Elfman. This is an album for those who love the movie, who love Danny Elfman, and/or people who have had some kind of crazy messed up childhood memories like my own"

"This certainly is Danny Elfman. My favorite tracks are Main Titles, Travel Music, and The Fly. The Main Titles is a fun bouncy song with a dash of mischievous comedy. It sort of binds the whole album together. The Travel music is probably, yes, the happiest sounding track on the CD. The Fly was a very cool sound,
with real low piano playing reminded me of the fly scene in the movie. I was a little disappointed though, because the songs are very short and not everything is included. For example, in the movie the travel music plays, and Adam goes into the hardware store and the music stops. Then when he comes out again the music starts up. They only have the half when they drive to the store, not the other half. Also they do not have that music when Lydia was writing that note in her bedroom. I do not really like the sandworm planet music in the album because the instruments are so mixed up and obnoxcious, kind of annoying really. Of course this is an early work of Danny Elfman so it has its flaws. But if you are interested in the slightest about this particular score, buy it! The songs are pretty well put together, and the Harry Belefonte songs are great too! Don't be discouraged, this is still a great CD."

"This is a great soundtrack from the early Elfman. If you've heard his other movie scores you should like this one since it's in the same vein as his darker Batman style works. The Harry Belafonte songs are nice touch."

"This soundtrack has been hailed by many as the greatest to any horror/halloween film ever. And they are quite right. Catchy, large and sweeping, it beats out any other in it's genre. I've heard this music used everywhere, even in previews for other movies.
Danny Elfman and Tim Burton have a thing for working together, and the result is always spectacualr (except maybe their remake of Planet of the Apes, where neither was at their best, but I'll let that one slide)
This soundtrack is many things, but above all fun. If you are a fan of Elfman or like soundtracks period, this is a good one. And those looking for the tracks Day-O and Jump in Line, you'll find them on here, but not the other calypso tracks or Lydia's opera theme."

"Danny Elfman provides an excellent score to Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (his second film, if I'm not mistaking). The music captures the comical elements of the film, but never loses the gothic theme which is now a trademark of a Burton/Elfman film. The two caribbean songs by Harry Belafonte (Day-O and Jump In The Line) are amusing and adds a nice diversity to the soundtrack, without breaking the "feel" of it. Tim Burton tried to add a musical number to Batman without succeeding to the fullest, here - luckily - it works absolutely fine. This is a great soundtrack, and you don't need to be an Elfman fan to appreciate it."

"Danny Elfman's often cartoon-like art of composing is a brilliant twist to this macabre and darkly-entertaining movie. Elfman sets the overtones (as well as undertones), by producing music that is whimsical and haunting at the same time.
Although it is not as serious as following works (Sleepy Hollow, for example), this soundtrack is a delight. Never, at any point, does the music take itself too seriously. It further expands on the roots of "fun genius" that Danny Elfman established in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and that he is still not afraid to let show (Flubber).

The addition of the two Belafonte tracks was another stroke of genius. It helps emphasize Elfman's work as well as reiterate what was said and performed in the movie. The two tracks have deep ties to the movie (they were the main "numbers" within the movie), and needed to be included here.

Beetlejuice is a great addition to any Danny Elfman collection, as well as fun for anyone who is just starting out!"

"This music is truely beautifull. It is entertaining and interesting at the same time. The way the bass and the "mad" piano are handled are simply amazing. A true masterpiece "

"The music here makes you wonder why Danny Elfman stuck with (Oingo) Boingo for so long. While he may have had a few catchy songs there, his talent for motion picture composing is awesome. Certainly, he and Tim Burton are nearly inseparable (witness The Nightmare Before Christmas and Batman), so Elfman's easy to peg. On the surface, it's tempting to say that once you hear one of his motion picture compositions, you've heard them all, but I suspect there's more nuance to his music that that. This album moves easily from the eerie and ethereal to the warm and heartfelt--often seconds apart. It's all dark, though, being music for a tart comedy about the afterworld. The two Harry Belafonte songs keep the gloom away, and add the perfect touch of whimsicality--both in the movie and in this album. It's hard to erase from your mind."

More review:

MIDNIGHT RUN (1988) (Original Soundtrack)

Composed By [Original Score] - Danny Elfman
Producer, Arranged By - Danny Elfman , Steve Bartek
Recorded By, Mixed By - Bill Jackson (check Boingo albums and see:
Performer - Mosley & The B-Men (track 24)


01 Walsh Gets The Duke
02 Main Titles
03 Stairway Chase
04 J.W. Gets A Plan
05 Gears Spin I
06 Dorfler's Theme
07 F.B.I.
08 Package Deal
09 Mobocopter
10 Freight Train Hop
11 Drive To Red's
12 In The Next Life
13 The River
14 The Wild Ride
15 Amarillo Dawn
16 Potato Walk
17 Desert Run
18 Diner Blues
19 Dorfler's Problem
20 Gears Spin II
21 The Confrontation
22 The Longest Walk
23 Walsh Frees The Duke
24 End Credits: "Try To Believe"

Link to download:

More info:

"Elfman's next significant score was for another box-office smash, Midnight Run. "Finally," Elfman exclaims, "after all those years, I was asked to do a 'contemporary' score. If it had been my first movie, I wouldn;t have done it, but by that time, it was my seventh or eighth film, and I had pretty solidly established myself as an orchestral composer. In fact, I only got calls for orchestral scores, so I figured I was safe at that point in doing a comtemporary score, because i felt I wasn't in any danger of pigeon-holing myself as a pop composer. But it was difficult. Marty Breast, the director, is a real stickler for details, and he was unlike any director I have ever worked with. He's the kind of guy who knows just exactly what he want. He doesn't know how to tell you to do what he wants, but you keep doing it unless it suddenly makes him go 'Yeah'. And he really hears things, I mean he's got better ears than ninety percent of the musicians I know. So it was very difficult finding the music to make Marty kick in and engage, so for a relatively simple score, it took a lot of work. But the end result was a good experience, because I don't mind getten beaten up by a director." The score contains elements of rock and roll, and old-fashioned blues music, but solidly crafted in a Hollywood action mode, proving that Elfman could definitely handle the more routine and standard film assignments, as opposed to just the occasional oddball comedy."

"Elfman steered away from the grandiose orchestral work with this blues-inflected comedy-action score, but the result was unfortunately mediocre and unengaging — the score works OK in the context of the film, but fails utterly in the context of an album."

"This soundtrack never ceases to bring a grin to my face. It's a 100% rhythm and blues track - but this is playful, humorous, sharp, smart use of the blues. Rarely have I seen a background score that complements a film so well. No grand orchestrated stuff like Elfman's Batman score in this film. This score has a barebones blues band sound, with some big horns blaring during the big car chases and shootouts. Yet the same theme transforms into something very poignant and lyrical during a rare emotional moment between de Niro and his daughter, and finally to underline the inevitable development of deNiro & Grodin's unlikely friendship. This album is a keeper."

"It's funny, all the reviews for this CD are in the past few years. I just downloaded this CD to my I-pod and what the other reviewers already stated I'll confirm once again. This soundtrack / score is excellent. The music is 'organic' as opposed to some more modern scores that sound like they've been composed on a computer. The music is natural, bluesy, rockin' and soulful. I look forward to maybe lounging on a beach this summer with this album playing in the background..."
"I love this movie and the soundtrack is truly one of the finest that I have ever heard. It is amazing to see how very simple melodies can be so powerful, and of course it suits by each and every bit to the movie. In my opinion, a fine soundtrack has a big part to play in a fine movie and this one could not have been better."

More review:

BATMAN (1989) (Original Soundtrack)

Artwork By [Design] - Christine Cano
( and
Conductor, Orchestrated By [Additional] - Shirley Walker (
Contractor - Peter Willison
Edited By Bob Badami- ( and, Robin Clarke (
Engineer - Eric Tomlinson (
Engineer [Second] - "Young" Jonathan Morton , Steve Price (
Executive Producer - Jon Peters (, Peter Gruber (
Management - Laura Engle (Kraft- Engel Management see Oingo albums), Mike Gromley (see Oingo albums and
Mastered By, Edited By [Digital] - Bruce Botnick ( and
Mixed By - Shawn Murphy (
Orchestra - Sinfonia Of London Orchestra, The* ( and Orchestrated By [Additional] - Steven Scott Smalley ( and,
Other [Danny Elfman's Filmmusic Representation] - Richard Kraft (
Other [Executive In Charge Of Album Production] - Gary LeMel
Producer, Composed By - Danny Elfman
Producer, Orchestrated By - Steve Bartek
Supervised By [Supervisor] - Michael Dilbeck (
Composed By [Scandalous] - John L. Nelson , Prince (track 04)
Composed By [Beautiful Dreamer] - Stephen Foster (track 09)
Composed By [Scandalous] - John L. Nelson , Prince (track 15)
Composed By [Beautiful Dreamer] - Stephen Foster (track 20)
Composed By [Scandalous] - John L. Nelson , Prince (track 20)


01 The Batman Theme
02 Roof Fight
03 First Confrontation
04 Kitchen, Surgery, Face-Off
05 Flowers
06 Clown Attack
07 Batman To The Rescue
08 Roasted Dude
09 Photos / Beautiful Dreamer
10 Descent Into Mystery
11 The Bat Cave
12 The Joker's Poem
13 Childhood Remembered
14 Love Theme
15 Charge Of The Batmobile
16 Attack Of The Batwing
17 Up The Cathedral
18 Waltz To The Death
19 The Final Confrontation
20 Finale
21 Batman Theme Reprise

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After a rather negative experience scoring Scrooged, another comedy with horror and fantasy elements, in which much of his music was either not used or simply buried, Elfman began his most ambitious project to date, Tim Burton's dark and ominous take on the Caped Crusader, Batman. It's difficult to ascertain whether Elfman would have been offered the film without Burton, despite his glowing reviews and growing reputation, since he was still very much viewed as a Hollywood outsider. As should be expected by now, Elfman's score is terrific, but in unexpected ways.

Diametrically opposed to the John Williams "Superman/Raiders/Star Wars" type of score, the music, like Burton's film, is dark, gothic, labyrinthine. Much of the music is intense and brooding, decidely unheroic. According to Elfman, there are several facets to the score. "Certainly there is the darker side, which I was very attracted to. In a way, it was coming full circle, in terms of doing what I always wanted to do. It always surprised me that I became successful in comedy, because my own instincts are very dark, and so after ten films, I was finally coming home to where I always figured it i ever had my way, that's where I would start. I always thought my first movies would be horror films, because I thought that was where my instincts were the strongest. The comedies were fun, and gave me a chance to relax into a style that I really liked, so by the time Batman rolled along, I had developed a lot of confidence and didn't have a lot of those insecurities."

Indeed, Elfman's music for Batman may be all the more astounding for its self-assuredness, and although at the time of my conversation with Elfman, the Prince songs from Batman were getting a lot of airplay and attention, many film critics went out of their way to praise Elfman's original score (evev though some, like Vincent Canby in the New York Times mistakenly gave Prince credit for the original orchestral music, much to Elfman's understandable annoyance). "To be fair," Elfman adds, ever the diplomat, "three times in the score, I did an adaptation of the ballad that Prince wrote, using four notes from it. Mainly because the producers knew that the song wouldn't come in until the end credits, and they wanted me to give some recognition of the notes."
Although Elfman would have every right to be irked by Warner Brother's extensive exploitation of the Prince songs from the film (even though only three songs are actually heard in the film itself, the remainder of the album being songs "inspired" by the film, and all of it fairly mediocre at that, in this reviewer's opinion), issuing an album simultaneously with the film's release, while Elfman's original score did not reach the stores until the second week of August, nearly two months after the film's opening, Elfman is pleased that the decision was made to release two separate soundtrack albums, one just devoted to his orchestral score, rather than to find just one or two tracks from his score buried on the Prince album.

Although the film is now a commercial blockbuster as well as a critical success, and Elfman's contributions have been rightly praised, there was still an enormous amount of nervousness on the part of the producers regarding Elfman's employment.
"Normally, the only person I ever work with is the director. But here I had the head of production, and Jon Peters [one of the film's executive producers] over my house, many times, playing the themes, mocking up pieces, because they really wanted to be sure. Here they have this enormous movie, an action/adventure film, the type of score thet I have never done. And it's the type of score where one's first impulse, if it weren't for Tim having chosen me, would be, 'Call John Williams.' So I think they were all very nervous, and they wanted to be sure that I wouldn't screw it up. Also, because the production schedule was so late, and fast, by the time we got to orchestra, if I had screwed it up, there would have been no way to fix it."

"It's when Jon first heard the heroic Batman theme, the element that I think he thought I couldn't do, that he started to relax and get into it. His attitude was, 'I know you can write a creepy, dark score, now can you give us a stirring theme.' And my attitude towards the heroic side of Batman was to approach it really simply, like a Max Steiner approach, to come up with a very simple theme and use it in variations, and to even score it in the same way that I would imagine Steiner scoring an adventure pirate film. And when I played the theme foe jon, all of a sudden he jumped up, had this huge smile on his face, and I knew I was home free."

"Elfman's first film was the aforementioned Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and he briefly toiled with the idea of doing it the usual "rock and roll method," i.e. playing themes and having an orchestrator take it from there. But he realized. "to really get your voice sounding original, you need to do more than that. I started doing that for two weeks on Pee-Wee, and realized, this isn't going to work. I forced myself to start writing the stuff out." He got by on Pee-Wee by the fact that "it was a very simple score", same for Back to School. "I got up to Beetlejuice and over the course of ten scores got to the point where I could handle more complicated music and I had to push myself to do Batman.
Once I got to Batman I had the confidence to hold much denser pieces in my head, because in order to write I have to mentally freeze the entire piece of music and write it down one part at a time. Same thing leading into Dolores Claiborne, I couldn't have done that at the time I did Batman, because at that point I couldn't really do dissonance, I had a hard time holding onto chords with odd voicings and movements, and moving things around in a non-rhythmic way. The key scores for me were Pee-Wee to Beetlejuice to Batman to Dolores, those were the big jumps, for me at least I'm not saying they were great leaps for music-kind." "


When Elfman lost the Oscar for 1989's Batman, he got a cryptic telegram saying "You was robbed - Hank." Asking around, he found out that the telegram had come from Henry Mancini.

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"Undoubtably my favorite Elfman score. It's dark, mysterious, gothic and operatic yet playful and touching too. This isn't your typical action adventure film score. "Childhood Remembered" starts off quiet and mysterious and carries you along until you reach the unerving ending. I get chills most every time I listen to it. Very creepy stuff. Then you get big operatic tracks like "First Confrontation" and action-packed tracks like "Attack of the Batwing." Somehow Elfman manages to keep all of this sounding fresh and give it his own personal falir. Never do you have a sence of been there, done that with this score. His sound in these days was very distinct something that he's strayed from in recent films.

For fans of Elfman, Batman, gothic music and/or film scores this is something that should not be passed up. A distinctive one-of-a-kind find."

"The Batman soundtrack by Danny Elfman is one of the best soundtracks to any movie, ever. There is not a weak track on the whole album. Anybody who has seen the movie remembers the familiar soundtrack. This music is powerful, haunting and gothic at the same time. This music really portrays the darkness of this great movie. This is Danny Elfman's best work, in my opinion."

"For anyone with even a passing interest in film scores, or even music in general, this is must-own. Danny Elfman's score for Tim Burton's first (and best) Batman film is, in a word, magnificent. Inspired, memorable, and moving, Elfman's score is easily one of the greatest soundtracks in cinema history. Although fantastic if listened to alone, the way this music is used in the film itself elevates what is other-wise a very good movie into a great one. This score compliments the film so well, it's frightening. The main theme is a perfect reflection of Batman himself: it's majestic and powerful,yet tortured and dark.

This gothic, elegaic score is easily one of the finest soundtracks ever written, and stands as a testament to the power and importance music holds in the world of movies. You'd do yourself a tremendous service to buy this soundtrack, and at this price, you'd be hard pressed to find a reason not to."

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Choir - L.A. Master Chorale (
Composed By - Danny Elfman
Engineer [Assistant] - Sharon Rice
Executive Producer - Kathy Nelson (
Mixed By - Shawn Murphy
Orchestra - Steve Bartek
Producer - Danny Elfman , Steve Bartek
Recorded By - Bobby Fernandez (, Shawn Murphy (


01 Main Titles
02 Dream
03 Carnival Underground
04 Into Midian
05 Meat For The Beast
06 Resurrection Suite
07 Boone Transforms
08 The Initiation
09 Scalping Time
10 Rachel's Oratory
11 Party In The Past
12 Poor Babette
13 Uh-Oh...Decker!
14 "Then Don't Say It!"
15 Boone Gets A Taste
16 Breed Love
17 Mayhem In Midian
18 Baphomet's Chamber
19 Farewell
20 2nd Chance
21 End Credits
22 Country Skin*

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"More music by Danny Elfman, falling into the orchestrated neo-Gothic area that he mined for a while. This is one of those albums that you either have a taste for, or just don't want to know about; certainly, it's a fascinating piece of work — moody, pushy, quirky, with orchestral tones that jump out at you, which means it's perfectly in keeping with Clive Barker's writing (he wrote the novella that the movie is based on, as well as writing and directing the movie) — fine tuned, with a sense of what makes for a beautiful passage, but sometimes with the subtlety of a bus falling on the listener. There are moments that have a gentleness and pleasantness to them that's astounding and breathtaking — musically, Elfman's work for Nightbreed ranks with the best of Bernard Herrmann, and that is no mean feat. As a bonus, the cassette and CD include an extra track, "Country Skin," a pleasant little C&W number about ripping your face off, sung by Michael Stanton."

""Nightbreed" represents the pinnacle of Danny Elfman's dark, scary music. While "Batman" presented a dark, heroic score, "Nightbreed" plunges the listener into the bizarre, nightmarish depths of Midian, where the dead walk. Nothing Elfman has composed since can equal the dark tone and mood of this score. I highly recommend this to horror music fans, and especially to fans of Danny Elfman. It's a must-have, especially at this low price!!!"
""Night Breed" seems to represent to me the pinnacle of Danny Elfman's achievement as a composer, equalled only by his astounding work on "Batman". The music on this album is haunting, mesmerizing and very, very dark. I highly recommend it."

"Unlike several other reviewers here, I think that Danny Elfman's score for Clive Barker's Nightbreed is a dark and impressive work and I think it ranks up with some of Elfman's better scores. Coming closely on the heels of Elfman's triumphant score for Batman, Nightbreed is energetic and exciting and carries the tradmark Elfman style. Elfman is at his best with this type of material. From a great opening theme to the apocolyptic destruction of Midian, this score is powerful."

"Nightbreed is a fairly medicore film, its atmosphere is cloudy and somewhat blurred. This is due in part to Danny Elfman's score. While the opening theme is pleasant enough, with choral echoes providing backing to the strings, the theme is more tonal than melodic. The end titles are more dramatic, more structured. The music throughout the film varies in quality, some of the cues a little too incidental for a true film score, but there are some appropriate and often spirited uses of strings.
Not a bad score altogether, but only average for Elfman."

"I never really could understand why most people tend to think that Darkman is better than Nightbreed. Because it really is'nt. Nightbreed is truly a masterpiece. One of Elfman's best, and certainly woth every penny. Take my advice: Bye it!"

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DICK TRACY (1990) (Original Soundtrack)

Artwork By [Design] - Terry Robertson-Mota (
Composed By, Producer - Danny Elfman
Conductor, Orchestrated By [Additional] - Shirley Walker (
Contractor - Patty Fidelibus/ Copyist - Joel Franklin
Engineer - Dennis S. Sands* ( and
Engineer [Assistant] - Sharon Rice (, Sue McLean (
Mastered By, Edited By [Digital] - David Collins (
Orchestrated By [Additional] - Jack Hayes (
Other [Assistant Music Editor] - Andrew Silver (
Other [Danny Elfman's Filmmusic Representation] - Richard Kraft (
Other [Danny Elfman's Manager] - Laura Engel (Kraft- Engel Management see Oingo albums), Mike Gormley (see Oingo albums and
Other [Scoring Coordinator] - Andy Hill
Producer, Edited By - Bob Badami ( and
Producer, Orchestrated By -
Steve Bartek
Remix - Shawn Murphy ( and


01 Main Titles
02 After The "Kid"
03 Crime Spree
04 Breathless' Theme
05 Big Boy / Bad Boys
06 Tess' Theme
07 Slimy D.A.
08 Breathless Comes On
09 Meet The Blank
10 The Story Unfolds
11 Blank Gets The Goods
12 Rooftops
13 Tess' Theme -- Reprise
14 The Chase
15 Showdown / Reunited
16 Finale

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I heard that for Dick Tracy you were writing music over the phone.

Danny Elfman:
"We had finished everything, I was on tour, and they decided to change the entire opening. So they took a piece I'd written for the end of the movie and cut it into the new beginning. I got Warren on the phone and practically begged him to rewrite it. He said, "Do you really think you need to? Everybody's pretty happy with it." I said yes. And Warren said, "Okay, you got it." So, I wrote two versions in my hotel room that night, [orchestrator and Boingo guitarist] Steve Bartek orchestrated them, we sent them to L.A., and I got on the phone just to hear them played. But of course you know how stories go in L.A. [Laughs.] It's already become one of those legends: "God, how he scored it over the phone!"

"Elfman rarely takes a holiday. The last time he tried to just hang out, "I had arrived at a hotel in the Bahamas to find a message that read: "Warren Beatty wants to talk to you about Dick Tracy...immediately." I finally put my foot down," he recalls. "I took two whole days off!"

""Since Pee-wee's big adventure, I've had the reputation for being able to score serious comedies," Mr. Elfman said. "Now I'd like to try my hand at horror and adventure.""

How was Dick Tracy for you?

"I just finished it last night and it was really good, very difficult but very good. Warren Beatty is the kind of director who is very difficult to please, is very particular, has a very good ear, and there's just no getting around it. You either hit it on the nail for him or you don't, and I went through the whole process of starting out very enthusiastic, thinking I had it nailed, then reaching what seemed like horrible impasses and feeling like I couldn't possibly find what I needed to give him what he wanted, and then finally coming around to it. It's like the mystery solved. You find the clues and the clues lead to other clues. It's like Sherlock Holmes, and all of a sudden I had it, I found it, and our last session last night worked just great because I knew I found what he was looking for, and his being very pleased makes me feel like I solved the mystery."

Danny Elfman:
"I wouldn't have done Dick Tracy if I felt that the score they wanted me to do was Batman. I did it because there was a romantic style of music I'd never done before."

"Occasionly, despite his best efforts, Mr. Elfman's two careers collide in pecular ways. No sooner had he finished the score for Dick Tracy last spring than Oingo Boingo went on tour to support its new album, "Dark at the End of the Tunnel". But when it was decided after previews of Dick Tracy that some cuts in the movie's main title sequence were necessary, Mr. Elfman was suddenly called upon to make changes in the accompaning music. He could not abandon the group on the road, so he ended up supervising the recording session over the telephone from a Milwaukee hotel room, with the conductor, Shirley Walker, the orchestra and Mr. Beatty at the other end of the line. "It really wasn't as weird as it sounds," Mr. Elfman said, laughing. "All I could hear was the brass and the tempo, so I was basically there just as protection."


"Danny Elfman rearranges a handful of the notes from his otherwise identical Batman score. That proves to be enough to make this one considerably less melodically coherent. The highlight of the record comes when Elfman stops plagiarizing his own work long enough to plagiarize John Williams' classic barroom jazz from the cantina scene in Star Wars (on "Crime Spree"). Of the three CDs Warner Brothers released to cash in on this summer blockbuster, this is not the worst (that would be the collection of pop songs that didn't appear in the movie) or the best (Madonna's recordings of Stephen Sondheim's original songs), but it is the most laughable."

"In the year 1990, director Warren Beatty hired Danny Elfman to score his film "Dick Tracy", based on an old comic books series created decades earlier. The film tried to emulate the great film noir of the earlier 1900's, and Danny Elfman wrote a score appropiate for that setting.

Though there are many who say that this score is far too similar to his earlier "Batman", I disagree with the notion. There are similarities, to be sure, but not incriminatingly so. The album begins with the "Main Titles", introducing us to two major themes: the martial "Dick Tracy" theme, and the Gershwin-influenced "Tess' Theme". Both themes get nice variations later on in the album (especially the former), and I think it is safe to treat this Track as an overture of sorts.

The album wastes no time, jumping to the first action piece in the second Track, called "After the 'Kid'". There are similarities to "First Confrontation" in terms of overall tone and orchestration, but the piece certainly has a personality of its own.

Next comes a wonderfully jazzy Track, a highlight of the album in the form of "Crime Spree". It never ceases to place a smile on my face. And so the album continues, but I am too lazy to outline every Track.

One may notice that I am praising this score profusely, yet I only gave it a Four-Star rating. Well, here is why:

Though the album contains very nice material, it is far too short for its own good, lasting at about 35 minutes or so. The album "paints" a nice musical portrait of the film, but it would still be nice to fill those remaining 40 minutes or so on the Disk.

One should also know that the middle seems to drag a little on the first few playthroughs. However, I recommend giving it a chance, and do not truly evaluate your opinion of the score until you truly get to know it. Yeah, I know this review is about 18 years late, but this score could use a few more positive opinions in the public eye.

Ultimately, I would say that one cannot go wrong with purchasing this album, especially since the Amazon Marketplace prices are so cheap. Pick up this score. You will probably not regret it."

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say the score for Dick Tracy has aged better than most of Danny Elfman's other screen work from around the same era.
Batman, aside from the still-excellent main theme, hasn't aged that well (film OR score) and Beetlejuice while not bad isn't as strong and unified as the score for Dick Tracy.
This score features one of my favorite main title openings as well as a short, beautiful theme piece for Tess Truehart that is the lynchpin for the rest of the score... Don't be surprised at this -- most films feature some theme that's iconic and is repeated over and over again if not integrated into other pieces of the score. It's rare that they don't become annoying or cliche. Thankfully, that wasn't the case here (at least for me)!
Elfman fans and motion picture soundtrack enthusiasts should go out and buy a copy of this CD soundtrack while prices are still relatively sane for used/new copies. Hopefully, the soundtrack will be reissued in a higher-fidelity version if and when Disney ever does a proper remastering of the movie and releases it in a Blu ray edition with decent extras and perhaps deleted scenes and takes.
Most fans of both the film and the soundtrack feel that they are vastly underappreciated by both the general public and the company that produced the movie..."

"If they made a Best of Danny Elfman CD, the Dick Tracy theme would be in there. This is the stuff everybody fell in love with. Stands up well with Batman soundtrack & Edward Scissorhands. Good stuff."

"Every single review I read for this album was neutral, and I don't know why. I think this is a great score. It's my third favorite Elfman score (I think) next to 1.Batman, and 2.Beetlejuice. The best tracks are 1, 3, 5, 12, and 15. I recommend this score to anyone that likes Danny Elfman. Even though the movie wasn't that great, this score is on the other hand."

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DARKMAN (1990) (Original Soundtrack)

Composed By, Producer - Danny Elfman
Conductor - Shirley Walker
Orchestrated By -
Steve Bartek


01 Main Titles
02 Woe, The Darkman...Woe
03 Rebuilding / Failure
04 Love Theme
05 Julie Transforms
06 Rage / Peppy Science
07 Creating Pauly
08 Double Durante
09 The Plot Unfolds (Dancing Freak)
10 Carnival From Hell
11 Julie Discovers Darkman
12 High Steel
13 Final / End Credits

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Do you ever get a little depressed after a project is over?

"Well, I used to more, but now that I have no time between projects, I have no time to dwell on the post-project depression which, you know on especially big projects, can happen. That happened after Batman. I took a little time off, but I went into Nightbreed, then into Dick Tracy. Now, I'm on Darkman, which I do in and around touring, then on to Edward Scissors Hands [Scissorhands], so I don't have a lot of time to dwell on anything."

What was it like working on Darkman?

"Fun. There are long segments where you've got this poor, pathetic Darkman character wandering through life, which lent itself to a big, melodramatic, melodious, tragic score. Very old-fashioned. I prefer the way movies were scored 20 or 30 years ago: bold, in your face. The score was a much more important element then."


"This album was sort of tossed out by MCA without fanfare after Darkman was released to only minor success. It's another in the series of dramatic, heavily orchestrated scores Elfman is known for, orchestrated by Steve Bartek with an assist from conductor Shirley Walker. While comparisons have been made between this score and that for Batman, there are major differences — this score is brighter, often more obvious in its effects than Batman was, with a brassier overall tone that works well.
There are also some delightfully demented moments — "Carnival From Hell" is fairground music tilted at an angle, the funhouse mirrors peeking through. For some people, the differences in tone and attitude won't be enough to make it worthwhile, and it's certainly true that there's some repetitiveness involved here — Elfman needs to break away for a while from fantasy/horror/science fiction/comic book scoring and develop his compositional abilities in other directions. However, it's not a bad release by all means; in some respects it's a stronger score than the one for Dick Tracy, and more dynamic in tone than Nightbreed"

"WOW! Danny Elfman penned four scores in one year..."Edward Scissorhands", "Dick Tracy", "Nightbreed", and "Darkman". Wow! This man is truly incredible! Enough with the small talk and lets get down to business. Even 1990 was 12 years ago, it was a big year for Elfman. "Main Titles" delivers an extremely brooding theme, at its first showing, it creeps along slowly. During the rest of the song and score, it comes faster. "Woe, the Darkman, Woe..." is a good somber cue. Elfman uses organs to create a Gothic feel. Its just really amazing the way he brings these things together to create something mind-blowing. "Creating Pauley" is something incredible in its ability to take us right to the lab, where Peyton works his buns off creating his synthetic skin. Pauley was a very ugly person and he was going to need extra skin to make someone so hideous. "Carnival from Hell" is really kind of creepy, with the circus music bouncing along so merrily.
Dark tones emerge throughout the duration of the track and finally come out more audibly at the end on the cue when Darkman gets really [ticked] at the carnie. "High Steel" turned the Darkman theme into a sort of "swashbuckler" theme, which wasn't bad, but it just didn't fit into the feel of the film. "Finale/ End Credits" was great...of course. All Elfman scores have good finales. Its a basic fact of film music and whoever has a problem better get their hands on an Elfman CD...FAST!(Preferrably "Batman".) The score is dark, has some humorous moments, action-packed, and sometimes really ...creepy but nevertheless...its very good, despite its shortcomings, if it even has any."

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MUSIC FOR THE DARKENED THEATRE, Vol. 1: Film & Television Music Compilation (1990)

Artwork By [Art Direction] - Vartan (see Oingo albums and
Artwork By [Concept &design] - Larry Brooks (Kosh Brooks Design) (
Co-producer, Orchestrated By -
Steve Bartek
Composed By - Danny Elfman
Conductor - John Coleman ( 1, 7) , Shirley Walker ( (tracks: 2, 3, 5, 6, 17) , Bill Ross* ( 4, 11)
Engineer - Armin Steiner (, Bill Jackson (check Boingo albums and see:, Dan Wallin (, Dennis S. Sands ( and, Eric Tomlinson (, Michael Boshears , Mike Ross , Bobby Fernandez* (, Shawn Murphy ( and
Executive Producer - Kathy Nelson
Mastered By, Edited By [Digital Editing] - David Collins (
Orchestra - National Philarmonic Orchestra, The* ( 1, 7) , Sinfonia Of London, The ( 1)
Orchestrated By [Additional] - Shirley Walker (, Steven Scott Smalley ( and, Bill Ross* (
Other [Assistant To Mr. Elfman] - Letitia Rogers
Other [Danny Elfman's Filmmusic Representation] - Richard Kraft (
Other [Management] - Laura Engel (L.A. Personal Development)(Kraft- Engel Management see Oingo albums) , Mike Gormley (L.A. Personal Development) (see Oingo albums and
Photography [Back Cover & Inside] - Stuart Watson (
Photography [Front Cover] - David Norwood (, Dennis Keeley (
Producer - Bod Badami ( and, Richard Kraft
Remix [Additional Album Remixes] - Dennis S. Sands* ( and


Pee Wee's Big Adventure (Directed By Tim Burton, 1985) (7:01)
1.1 Overture
1.2 Breakfast Machine
1.3 Clown Dream
1.4 Drive-In

Batman (Directed By Tim Burton, 1989) (8:25)
2.1 Batman Theme
2.2 Up The Cathedral
2.3 Descent Into Mystery

Dick Tracy (Directed By Warren Beatty, 1990)
3 Main Titles 3:03

Beetlejuice (Directed By Tim Burton, 1988) (3:43)
4.1 Main Titles
4.2 End Titles

Nightbreed (Directed By Clive Barker, 1990) (7:03)
5.1 Main Titles
5.2 Meat For The Beast
5.3 End Titles

Darkman (Directed By Sam Raimi, 1990) (6:55)
6.1 Main Titles
6.2 Woe The Darkman, Woe

Back To School (Directed By Alan Metter, 1986)
7 Study Montage 1:30

Midnight Run (Directed By Martin Brest, 1988) (4:42)
8.1 Walsh Gets The Duke
8.2 Main Titles
8.3 Diner Blues

Wisdom (Directed By Emilio Estevez, 1986) (4:39)
9.1 Change Of Life
9.2 Close Call In Albuquerque

Hot To Trot (Directed By Michael Dinner, 1988) (2:22)
10.1 Main Titles
10.2 Wandering Don

Big Top Pee Wee (Directed By Randal Kleiser, 1988) (5:24)
11.1 Main Titles
11.2 Rise' N Shine
11.3 Pee Wee's Love Theme
The Simpsons (1989)
12 Theme 1:30
Conductor - Steve Bartek
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Jar (Directed By Tim Burton, 1986)
13 Suite 3:20
Tales From The Crypt (1989)
14 Theme 1:29
Conductor - Steve Bartek
Face Like A Frog (Directed By Sally Cruikshank, 1988)
15 Suite 2:08
Forbidden Zone (Directed By Richard Elfman, 1980)
16 Love Theme 1:16

Scrooged (Directed By Richard Donner, 1988) (8:42)

17.1 Main Titles
17.2 Show Time At IBC
17.3 Elliot Gives Blood
17.4 Walter Ablaze
17.5 Wild Cab Ride
17.6 Luncheonette
17.7 Asylum
17.8 Crematorium

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An album of his film and television work, "Music for a Darkened Theatre", was scheduled for release by MCA in November, shortly before his fourth collaboration with director Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands, was due to hit the theaters.

"His rock-and-roll roots notwithstanding, Mr. Elfman is a composer in the classic film mode. He admires mainstre
am composers like Jerry Goldsmith and Ennio Morricone and says he would like to be able to achieve with Mr. Burton something akin to what Bernard Herrmann did with Alfred Hitchcock or what Nino Rota accomplished with Federico Fellini.
As a new collection of excerpts from several of his films and TV shows, called 'Music For A Darkened Theatre', quickly reveals, Mr. Elfman likes to write large, lush pieces for orchestra, with generous doses of brass and strings. He does not, on the other hand, like bright and bouncy cues for synthesizer or electronic ensemble, and he laments the growing tendancy to use technology to manipulate audiences and cover up flaws in a film. "I detest contemporary scoring and dubbing in cinema," Mr. Elfman said. "Film music as an art took a deep plunge when Dolby stereo hit. Stereo has the capacity to make orchestral music sound big and beautiful and more expansive, but it also can make sound effects sound four times as big. That began the era of sound effects over music. It's easier to let sound effects be big and just jump out and do everything than it is to let music do the same thing."

Typically, Mr. Elfman and the director will view a rough cut of a film he is scoring. Then he will record a preliminary sketch of the main musical themes he has in mind on a synthesizer and play them for the director. With the help of his orchestrator, the guitarist Steve Bartek of Oingo Boingo, he will then commit the music to paper and have it distributed to the musicians. Because the music score is one of the last elements in the making of a film and release dates are often inflexible, Mr. Elfman is often working under intense time pressure, forced to tinker with the score any time a scene is trimmed or extended.
"As we get to the end of a film, I'm just tearing sheets off and it's going to the copyists, who have to work overtime on a Sunday night to get all the music copied for a session the next morning," he said. "It can get real tense toward the end, let me tell you."

Will you be releasing an album of all the sound tracks for movies that you have scored?

"I've already done that, if I understand your question. "Music for a Darkened Theater: Volume I" covered pieces from my first 5 or 6 years of film scoring, and "Music for a Darkened Theater II", which just came out, takes us from Edward Scissorhands to Mission Impossible. I hope I get a chance to do a Volume III in another 5 or 6 years."


"Great collection of the music of Danny Elfman. He's a really gifted composer; for proof, buy this album.
The CD gets kicking with the theme from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, which arguably contains Elfman's catchiest music. Then you've got some great themes from Batman, Dick Tracy, and Beetlejuice (which is, as Elfman says, a "roller coaster ride"). The next one is beautiful, which is the theme to Nightbreed. From what I've heard, the movie stinks. But the soundtrack is one of my favorites on this CD and truly sounds like it belongs in a film like Titanic or some big blockbuster.

The rest of the album are various odds and ends from different projects Elfman's been involved in, from The Simpsons to Sam Raimi's Darkman, from his bro's Forbidden Zone to Tales from the Crypt. It all ends off with the t
heme from Scrooged, which is actually pretty haunting.

A great buy. Really shows off Elfman's diverse talents in making movie music. He's one of my favorite composers composing today."

"What a great CD. Danny's music is so original and inventive. this CD contains his pre 90's quirky, gothic music. it's all very well written and beautifully orchestrated. batman and darkman contain some really excellent long, dark, gothic cues that really take u away from reality. in my opinion no one, apart from howard shore, is as inventive and original as danny in the world of filmmusic. he far surpasses the repetitive works of williams or horner. buy this, and volume two, and keep supporting one of the greatest film composers of all time.ohh...and buy fellowship of the ring and two towers by howard shore....amazing work!"

"It's Been 12 Years Since This Album has been out but it still Rocks! I remember when I was a kid glancing at the compact tapes section titled 'soundtracks' when I happen to come across this gem. I didn't buy it that day, but I defiantly wanted it. It wasn't till weeks later when I've had many sleepless nights thinking about the album that I actually went out and bought it. From the Moment the 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure' Overture starts to 'Crematorium' from Scrooged, I was in Awe. I instantly restarted the tape right away for more listening fun. I really like the commentary he had about each film on the Album excerpt. The Compositions for the 'Tim Burton' Films are truly the best, but Others on the Album are great as well."

"I love music that can trasport me to a different time and place. Sometimes it's the words, sometimes its the music. When I listen to Danny Elfman music, it puts me in a mythical place, full of adventure. His soundtracks work for much more than the movies they were written for. I put on Elfman to set the mood when reading favorite authors such as Laurell K. Hamilton, Barbara Kingsolver, or Alice Hoffman. Other artists set up perfect backdrops for my other reading, but if you want that ethereal atmosphere, Elfman's my first choice. Other people that can give you that spooky, perfect atmosphere are: Anna Madorsky (she's not signed, but you can find her on the web), some NIN (a little more techno, but some of it can totally transport you), Bauhaus, and classic Rolling Stones. If you like emotive atmosphere, but arent' a fan of the spooky, I strongly suggest picking through Prince's work. There are some wonderfully atmospheric songs in there. Of course, if you like Elfman's soundtracks, then you've got to check out the movies. Edward Scissorhands is an absolute classic."

"I fell in love with the music of Danny Elfman when Beetlejuice came out. There was something different about the music that he made. When Edward Scissorhands, and then Nightmare Before Christmas - I knew this man was a musical master. Its the verbal form of surrealism."

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EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) (Original Soundtrack)

Artwork By [Art Direction] - Vartan (see Oingo albums and
Choir [Featured Boys Choir] - Paulist Choristers Of California, The* (
Chorus Master [Choir Master] - Dr. Jon Wattenbarger
Composed By, Producer [Music] - Danny Elfman (tracks: 1 to 16)
Conductor - Shirley Walker (
Contractor - Nathan Kaproff/ Copyist - Joann Kane
Directed By [Adult Choir Music Director] - Sally Stevens (
Edited By [Assistant Music Editor] - Margie Goodspeed (
Edited By [Digital Editing], Mastered By - Dave Collins (
Edited By [Music Editor] - Bob Badami ( and
Engineer [Additional Engineering By] - Bill Jackson (check Boingo albums and see:, Dennis S. Sands* ( and
Engineer [Assistant Engineers] - Sharon Rice (, Sue McLean (
Executive Producer - Kathy Nelson (President of Film Music at Universal Pictures)
Orchestrated By [Orchestrations By] - Steve Bartek
Other [Assistant To Mr. Elfman] - Letitia Rogers
Other [Danny Elfman's Filmmusic Representation] - Richard Kraft (
Other [Danny Elfman's Management] - Laura Engel (Kraft- Engel Management see Oingo albums), Mike Gormley (see Oingo albums and
Recorded By, Mixed By - Shawn Murphy ( and
Vocals [The Paulist Choristers Of California] ( - Alrex Caparros , Andrew Kim , Andy Lumsden , Bobby Lee, Brian Sanchez , Danto Nakazawa , Erwin Allado , Geraldo Hernandez , Jason Domantay , Jay Johnson, Jesse Ramirez , John McIlnay , Kevin Gough , Matthew Lawrence, Michael Bahna


Edward Meets The World...

01 Introduction (Titles)
02 Storytime
03 Castle On The Hill
04 Beautiful New World / Home Sweet Home
05 The Cookie Factory
06 Ballet De Suburbia (Suite)
07 Ice Dance
08 Etiquette Lesson
09 Edwardo The Barber

...Poor Edward!

10 Esmeralda
11 Death!
12 The Tide Turns (Suite)
13 The Final Confrontation
14 Farewell....
15 The Grand Finale
16 The End
17 Tom Jones - With These Hands

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His work hasn't always been appreciated by the studios. The 1990 score for Edward Scissorhands is now acclaimed, but the studio hated it. They threatened to replace the score altogether, Elfman said, but ultimately decided - based on test screenings - that the movie itself was going to be such a flop it was a lost cause anyhow. The movie, which cost $20 million, went on to earn more than $56 million at the box office and become a hit on home video.

"One of the great challenges," Danny Elfman says, "is to get inside the director's head and view the film through his perspective."

""You search and search for compatable relationships," Mr. Elfman said. "It's so rare that when you find it, you want to stick with it." Mr. Burton, who like Mr. Elfman grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960's as a cartoon, movie, and pop music buff, said: "it has gotten easier for us to work together, but I don't think we have had to work at it too much. I used to go see Danny in clubs, before I knew him. I just always connected with him and Oingo Boingo's music, even though it had nothing to do with film."

Edward Scissorhands, which opened Friday, is the fourth collaboration between the two. Mr. Burton's film is a dark fable about the misadventures of a suburban teenager created by an eccentric inventor. In a recording studio one afternoon, a shrunken head nicknamed Uncle Bill looked down on Mr. Elfman and Mr. Burton from the console as a 79-piece orchestra recorded a 90-second cue to accompany a key scene in the movie. Communication between composer and director was as much by glances, raised eyebrows, and guffaws as by words. It is not always that easy, Mr. Elfman said.

"Directors don't know anything about music really, and if they do, it's not necessarily a help," Danny Elfman explained. "Warren Beatty is a pianist and knows much more about music than almost any director, but when he and I started on Dick Tracy, communicating on a musical level was getting us nowhere because it is all so interpretive. We started having much more success when we started talking on a strictly gut level. That's why I always say to directors,'Just tell me what you want this scene to say emotionally.'"

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"It is not the easiest task to combine compassion and creepiness into one musical piece, but Danny Elfman has demonstrated, quite elegantly, just how to do it. Edward Scissorhands is quite considerably his masterpiece, instantly recognizable and hauntingly memorable. The concept of a man-made creation, a recluse who has been left with scissors for hands because his inventor died just before attaching natural ones, is certainly strange and possibly laughable. The film may indeed have played as pure farce if not for Elfman's artistry. While many films use soundtrack as the "glue" of the story, or as border, Elfman saturates every bit of Scissorhands so that it is as much his art as it is the director's (Tim Burton). The opening title is fantastic, emitting the wonder of childhood dreams and classic storybooks. But it is only the starting point on a journey of music that concludes with the "grand finale," which is not merely grand, but all encompassing. There are minor detours along the way, like "Edwardo the Barber," which is fun and reminiscent of Pee Wee's Big Adventure, but even in its lighter moments, Edward Scissorhands is classic."

"So far this is the best I've heard from Danny Elfman and I'll be stunned if I ever hear him do better.
This is a most magical, sad, fun, beautiful, touching, wintery experience. A musical journey. This is one of those rare and special times where the score of the movie carries it along and punctuates it in such a way that the movie could be seen as, on one significant level, a story told in pictures and music. This is a score without which the movie would be just inconceivable.

Danny Elfman is the perfect musical counterpart to genius Tim Burton. This music like Tim Burton's movies has the truly unique ability to convey the dark and the cold and the tragic in a way which is tender, melancholic, hopeful, innocent, heartbreaking and magical, rather than evil.

Every track is wonderful. The instrumentation and the use of magical, "wintery" choruses create a fantastic feel. The Introduction is so sweeping and inviting, Storytime beautifully conveys the opening context of the film as a bedtime tale of a grandmother's youth, The Castle On The Hill puts us back in time and into that story made vital in its telling, Beautiful New World is charming, The Cookie Factory is so much fun, the Ice Dance, short, climactic, romantic and (not to overuse this word!) magical. Edwardo The Barber features some delightful, quirky, skillfully mad violining to accompany Edward's charming haircutting exploits. Death! is so tragic, and the ending tracks tell the story of the rest of the exciting action and fated climax of a poignant and beautiful film in a way analagous to the film itself, with subtlety and power rather than sentimentality. And the music comes full circle with the return to the grandmother and the closing credits. And just for fun, there's the perfectly odd and slightly melodramatic Tom Jones "With These Hands" thrown in as an extra treat.

Elfman at his best. Perfect winter music. Gets better with every listen. I don't know how better to describe this experience."

"Elfman and Burton is basically Willams to Spielberg. This has to be the best soundtrack, Elfman ever did. If Elfman were to quick making music, this could be his greatest achivement ever. The music is beautiful and flawless. This is an example of when the movie wouldn't be the same without the music. The music is what MAKES the movie. The soundtrack starts off with the wintery feel to it and with a side of playfulness with "Introduction." The soundtrack then goes with "Storytime", which includes some of 'Ice Dance' and some other tracks. Edwardo the barber is fun. While 'Death!' can bring anyone to tears, within minutes.

The sound quality is nice. This soundtrack is wonderful and magical. This is truly what a soundtrack should sound like. Recommend for anyone who is 1. a fan of the movie, 2. for sensitive type, 3. Anyone who wants to hear good music."

"Elfman's accompanying score is delicate and tender, and it simply couldn't be better. In true Elfman style, we find that we can be both comforted by his music and, at the same time, be left with a sense of unease that perhaps things aren't as pristine and perfect (in the quaint town here EDWARD is set) as they seem. Indeed, Elfman's score includes a gentle choir, wistful strings, and soft bells. At every turn Edward makes, Elfman's music is there guiding your ears and your mind through a world that is new, exciting, fantastic, but somehow dark and mysterious. Highly recommended."

"Most likely. Danny Elfman has composed something here so beautiful, so overwhelming, so rooted in fantasy but filled with melancholy, that not only does it perfectly serve the film but is pretty much the greatest film score soundtrack around. Tracks such as Storytime, Ice Dance, and the unsurpassed The Grand Finale will leave you stunned. The orchestra and choir come together perfectly. If you don't have this cd you are missing out on something VERY special."

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Daniel Robert Elfman (b. 29 May 1953 in Los Angeles, CA) is an American musician and composer. He is married to actress Bridget Fonda.

One of Hollywood's most distinctive film composers, Danny Elfman is known for his dark, idiosyncratic scores, particularly those he has written for director Tim Burton's films. He is also widely recognized for the music he has written for TV, particularly his theme song for The Simpsons.

Danny Elfman was the lead vocalist and creative force behind the Los Angeles-based band Oingo Boingo from 1976 until its breakup in 1995. In addition to Oingo Boingo, he is well known for his work on motion picture soundtracks, particularly through his long-time collaborations with movie producer/director, Tim Burton. He has also composed several tv-show themes, including the Simpsons, Desperate Housewives and Sledge Hammer!. In 2005 he released his first non-movie related classical work "Serenada Schizophrana".

Collaborating with Tim Burton:

"A lot of composers just turn in the score," the director Tim Burton says. "Danny really works it out with you and lets you be a part of it. That makes it very exciting."

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Today, Elfman and Burton are still working together as a team. Elfman has scored the music for every movie Tim has directed, with the exception of Ed Wood. Danny Elfman was nominated for a Grammy in 1989 for his theme to Batman.

TV Themes:
Danny Elfman has composed themes and music for several television shows, including Desparate Housewives, Family Dog and The Simpsons.

Oscar nominations for Big Fish, Good Will Hunting and Men in Black.
Emmy nomination for The Simpsons.
Golden Globe nominations for Big Fish and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Grammy nominations for Spider-Man, Planet of the Apes, Men in Black, Edward Scissorhands, Dick Tracy and Batman.

Danny Elfman:
""I have been a film buff all my life, and when I was younger, I spent every weekend in a movie theater. So it was always my dream to be in film. The only thing is, I never knew I had any musical talent at all, I always imagined myself working toward being a director, by being a cameraman, an editor, working up to cinematographer, some technial element. I never saw myself as an actor, but I always wanted to work in films. It is interesting that suddenly, when i was thirty-one or thirty-two years old, and had well since lost that original childhood dream, figuring that it would probably never happen, and here I am.
I had a very attentive attitude towards film music, always very reverent, and although I didn't always know what I was listening to, I found later, when I went back, I remembered a lot of things. Even now, the way I get around my lack of training and technique is by drawing on my having grown up in a world of movies. Very often, when I'm not sure how to approach something, I say, 'How would I approach this if I were thirteen years old, sitting in a theater, and watching the movie?' In other words, what wouldmake me come alive?""

Andy Carvin:

How did you originally become involved in music?

Danny Elfman:
"Well, I've never studied, and I've never had music lessons. I just grew up on what I grew up on. I was a movie fanatic as a kid -- I spent every weekend that I could at the movies. My exposure to musicals, unfortunately, is through the film versions of the Broadway musicals. I never saw a real Broadway musical, so I saw them on film. Eventually, I ended up falling into musical theater—a group in Paris called Le Grand Magique Circus. I toured with them and learned various musical instruments.

I then left and formed the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, and began to pick up even more instruments. I've always had a fascination with old '30s jazz. I liked a lot of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Django Reinhardt, and I began transcribing that music. Whatever I learned about notation, I learned from my necessity to write down the music for my ensemble. So that started to roll on itself. Then, I started a rock band. I left it all behind me, until Tim Burton dragged me kicking and screaming into Pee Wee's Big Adventure in '85."

"Tim Burton, a fan of Oingo Boingo (as the group rechristened itself in 1979), surprised Elfman by asking if he would be interested in writing the music for Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Burton's first movie. "Though I never took it seriously as a potential job," recalls Elfman, "I thought it would be hip to do a meeting." The meeting led to Elfman's first great score -- playful, lyrical, full-bodied -- and launched his movie career."

""Tim [Burton] and Paul [Reubens, aka "Pee Wee Herman"] came to me. Tim was a fan of the band—he used to come to Oingo Boingo concerts. And Paul Reubens heard a film I did back in '78, for my brother, called Forbidden Zone. Although it wasn't a legitimate score, it was a strange little film score for an extremely low-budget movie.
I don't know why they wanted to call me in. I think they were really just interviewing nontraditional composers, and my name came up. And in meeting them, we kind of hit it off. But I still wasn't convinced that I had any right to do it. When I found out they were interested in me, that's where I started to get cold feet. My manager came in and said, 'Look, try it. What have you got to lose?' Well, ruining this young Mr. Burton's first film, how about that? I wrestled with it, and I finally decided, what the hell. I'll give it a whack, and if I fail dismally, at least I'll know that I tried."

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""It all worked in its own way," he says. "The rock band gave me the arrogance to follow my own instinct, whether I failed or not. Thank God I was able to take that attitude, because it's the fear of failure that makes mediocrity. And without fearing that, I was able to find my own voice.""

His quirky, off-beat but dramatically astute style was a perfect match for Burton's bizarre visuals; to this day, his earliest comedy music is a model for scoring the countless, much lesser films churned out by Hollywood as film editors routinely turn to the Pee's Wee Big Adventure/Back to School CD for temp-tracks. Step by step, with the help of Burton's popular films and the representation of Richard Kraft - then a record producer at Varese Sarabande later an agent at ICM and now head of his own Kraft-Benjamin Agency - Elfman continued to rise.

Then in 1989, he scored Batman, and was suddenly huge. The Batman score was orchestral and appropriately gothic, but with a unique, Elfman-esque flair. Love it or hate it, there was and is a frenetic, idiosyncratic quality to his writing which is fun to listen to and dramatically effective, and therefore alternately loathed and imitated by classically trained composers who probably loathe it all the more since they have to copy it all the time. If there were big projects before Batman - Beetlejuice, Scrooged, Midnight Run - even bigger ones came in the three years after it: Darkman, Dick Tracy, Edward Scissorhands, and Nightbreed.
He even revitalized (briefly) the television theme with The Simpsons and Tales from the Crypt.

After Batman, Danny Elfman did a number of action films (Darkman, Dick Tracy, Nightbreed), but it wasn't a dislike of the genre which forced him to call it quits after Batman Returns in 1992.
The situation on Batman Returns was his worst ever. Elfman wrote his music with dynamics in mind, only to find that everything was flattened out by the dubbing mixer. The film was so poorly dubbed that Elfman believes his music actually hurt the picture (

He called it quits on the action genre after Batman Returns in 1992, tried his hand at lush orchestral romance in Sommersby in 1993, and then poured his efforts into The Nightmare Before Christmas, released in late 1993.
He provided songs, lyrics, score. and several singing voices, including the lead voice - a mammoth contribution which resulted in him being as much the author of the film as Tim Burton, since both were involved from the very beginning, before there was even a director or script.

Nightmare was not a bomb, but it wasn't a blockbuster; Burton and Elfman's dark Halloween/Christmas imagery made for an interesting and original film, but not a family classic or a rebirth of the musical. Burton and Elfman ultimately had a falling out over the picture, which to this day neither is willing to discuss, and Elfman was absent from Burton's 1994 Ed Wood. Nightmare and its aftermath was important to Elfman in that it determined a new direction for him, which was not the route of the eight-picture-a-year film composer."

....But the prolific and profitable relationship with Tim Burton ended after Nightmare. Michael Fleming, the well-connected reporter and gossip columnist for the show-biz weekly Variety, says he believes that Elfman was angry at Burton and backed out of doing the music for Ed Wood.
Elfman declines to be specific about his rift with Burton. "It ended," he explains. "Why does any marriage end? We had a falling out, and that was that. There were many complex reasons, none on the personal level, which I won't really get into."
But Elfman's film-composing career has continued to thrive without Burton.

But few years later Tim and Danny worked again together...

"While Mars Attacks was a surprising experience for producer Larry Franco, and an involving one for screenwriter Jonathan Gems (STARLOG #233), it was something more than either of those for composer Danny Elfman. "For me, the most exciting thing was the fact that Tim Burton and I were on the film together. We had a kind of falling out, and hadn't spoken in a while, but we made up and came back together. It felt good, just like a family thing. As often happens in families, it gets very emotional, and you're not calling each other, you don't see each at the next Thanksgiving dinner. Then, time goes by, and you go, 'I really miss that person.' You find that yeah, it's workable, and you resolve these things. We've done some good work together, and I think we both recognize that. Coming back together felt really good, so working with Tim again is very cool."

In 1998 happened:
While the Oscar-nomination announcements on Tuesday, February 10th were short on surprises, there were two earth-shattering revelations for soundtrack aficionados: the nominations for Danny Elfman's Good Will Hunting (Best Dramatic Score) and Men in Black (Best Musical or Comedy Score)

Not long ago you said "I'll never get an Oscar© nomination."

"There was a joke going around: Even if they created a category for best Danny Elfman score, they'd still find a reason not to nominate me. There are a lot of people in the Academy who really hated my guts."

In 2005:
Elfman was recognized as a composer for the concert stage. His Serenada Schizophrana received its world premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York by the American Composers Orchestra.
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His work with Burton, however—from Batman to this year's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—has formed one of the most distinctive director-composer teams in recent movie history.

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Your entire musical career seemed to fall into place. Was it just a matter of being in the right place at the right time?

"Every success story has a being-in-the-right-place-the-right-time thing, no matter who it is. I didn't have a plan, so I don't know how it happened. I had chances to compose pop scores, being a rock/pop artist. This was before I did Pee Wee's Big Adventure, but I always turned them down. I hated contemporary scoring. and I really didn't want to do that. So in retrospect, it was probably the best thing I could have done. Because if I had started doing pop score, maybe I wouldn't have been offered an orchestral score. I held out for what I wanted to do, and then something came along out of the blue that I thought.

"Oh yeah, this is the kind of thing I like to do." I taught myself notation when I was in the predecessor to Boingo, The Mystic Knights, which was a theatrical troup that became a musical theatrical troop. I ended up being the musical director, because no one else could. And I ended up writing music that was too complicated to sing. So when I got Pee Wee's Big Adventure, I thought, "Just go back to what you were doing with The Mystic Knights, but take it another step." I didn't pay any attention to what comedies were being scored like in 1985. I wanted to make it feel like it was scored in 1955 or something. For whatever reason, it stood out and immediately attracted a lot of attention and just kick-started this whole career."

Well, tell me about the films. When you're seeing the film, what cues do you get from it about what kind of music it needs?

"Well, the feel of the music for me comes from seeing the film. It's all just an instinctive thing, and where it starts and stops is something that I talk over with the director as much as I can. I try to get as much non-musical, but visual and or emotional, input from the director as possible and find out what scenes he thinks need the most help. Because sometimes you're just trying to find the right tone for the film and you want to get input from the director in terms of how the film...what these scenes, characters mean to him and then that will help translate into the musical feel, or it's not feel actually, that's rock and roll talk, rather a musical style and how intense we want to make it, how big we want the dynamics.
These are things I'll try to find out from the director. How far he wants to let me wander off my leash is what I determine very early on, whether I've got a lot of freedom and I can just wander like crazy, or whether he's very concerned about how sometimes a part of the movie will play, and he's got very definite ideas, he or she I should say, and whether I should be very attentive during this part of it, but maybe I can wander a little more in another part."

In the same way that you've always avoided using an orchestra on Boingo stuff before now, it seems like conversely you haven't wanted to use rock instrumentation for a film score.

"No, I've really avoided that side, mainly because I hate pop scores. Why would I want to do that? For me, the joy of film scoring has been working with an orchestra, even though I've done one synthesizer score [Wisdom], and I've done one -- Midnight Run -- which was what I would call a small contemporary ensemble score, more like a blues band than a rock band. I did those two experiments into non-orchestral scoring."

"Yes, Oingo Boingo does songs for film, and I write songs for film. but when I do a song for a film, I like it to be a film that should have a song. If I look at a film and don't get that feeling right away, I usually don't get involved with it.
"Here's my theory about all this: Most films use pop songs in a completely incongruous way. The filmmaker' only desire in putting the pop songs in the movie is to have hit records to promote the film. It's not because the film needs them."

"I am not a fan of contemporary musicals. This is hard to say, here in New York, in particular, but I am not a fan of contemporary Broadway. But I do love the older, classic styles, so my attempt was to go against the tide -- and it's a very popular tide at the moment -- and try to create something which was strictly not a contemporary, Broadway-style musical.

I don't want to make songs fit into the present. I'd rather spend my time thinking, "God, was this written in the '30s, the '40s, etc." The '30s to the '60s was the classic golden era of musicals, and my inspiration all comes from that."

"No matter what the offer had been," says Elfman, "I would not have done a score that was pop- or rock-oriented. I'm absolutely adamant about developing my film-scoring career totally apart from that. Also, i really dislike pop scores."

"Rock 'n' roll composers make notoriously awful film composers. The two exceptions to that rule I can think of would be Randy Newman and Mark Knopfler. But dozens of others have broken into film composing in one form or another and don't have film sensibilities. They write scores like they're writing rock 'n' roll tunes for an orchestra."

"On the other hand, you have a John Hughes film. In that kind of movie, the film is about pop culture, and the songs become the score. The songs have as much or more of a place than a score. They are creating a contemporary feel. The kids are contemporary kids. And songs can convey that as well or better than a piece of score sometimes. As opposed to action-adventure films, romance films, serious films that use pop songs in a way that has nothing to do with the feel or mood of the movie. "To me, the only movies in which pop songs work, the only movies they should be in, are either movies that are purposely camp and funny or movies that are very much youth movies, pop-culture movies." Besides contributing individual songs to movies, Elfman has been scoring entire films for two years now (he has a deal with Oingo Boingo that allows him two months away from the band every year to work on movie projects). His first film score—if you don't count the work he did for his brother's underground film Forbidden Zone—was Pee-wee's Big Adventure. It wasn't a pop-music score, but a dramatic, 1930's style piece."

More on why he doesen't like contemporary musicals:

""The word soundtrack has lost its meaning," he says. "A soundtrack used to mean the music in a movie, but it has become, through manipulation of the record industry, the songs in the movie.""

"it doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess the reasons why Elfman thinks film music sucks, since they are the same ones about which Film Score Monthly readers complain: Movies are a business, temporary music scores have reduced composers merely to copying the expected styles; composers have to plagiarize in order to continue to work. sound effects are too loud - directors are too dumb; there's not enough time to write; there are few if any original voices or ideas. That last criticism is refreshing in a time when film scores have become so identical, the conventions so entrenched, and the composers so expected to write the same score over and over again, that the only way to judge film music is in degrees of accuracy to the original "source.""
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What's it like being a film composer after spending so many years as a rock musician?

"Well, being a film composer requires a level of discipline that far exceeds anything I had to deal with as a musician making records. As a composer, you have to write every day. Period. You have to write approximately two minutes of music every single day whether you feel great or you feel like crap. And you have to be *inspired* every day."

"In pure film composition, there are no rules," says Elfman. Soon he fell in love with the freedom to change tempos, rhythms, and keys at will. Imagining that he was once more a teenager sitting in the Baldwin Hills theater in Los Angeles, Elfman thought, "What would I like to hear?" The answer was Pee-wee's simple yet energetic theme." (

As Elfman explains it, a score is musical insight into a character's mind—melodies, backbeats and orchestral explorations that hint at hidden emotions. Scores can tip off a looming crisis, a monster lurking nearby (a bassy thump foreshadows the shark attacks in Jaws, for example), a marriage disintegrating.
The music also serves as glue, cementing a montage of action. Often scores convey motion, building tension and helping to drive the action.

What would you say is the most critical element of an artistically successful score?

"The ability to find the tone of a film can be the most important thing a film composer can bring to the job. Anybody can hold long chords with some dissonance and say, "That's tension." My eleven-year-old can do that! But can you nail the tone? That's the trick. "

You mentioned something about three careers. Pardon me if the obvious is eluding me, but beyond Boingo and film scoring, what's the third career?

"I actually in the last two years have probably put equal time into writing scripts. I have three screenplays that I've written or partially written, all in development at different places. One is for my directorial debut, should it all be lucky enough to fall together, which is at Zoetrope. The other two are musicals, and they're both very strange. Oddly enough, the one at Disney would certainly be one of the darkest musicals ever done, should it get made. So my hat's off to them for having the imagination to now start branching off into areas with certain people who seem to be occupying a certain off-center, twisted leaning that they feel fed into the Disney establishment, which I'm happy to be in. We got a lot of creative freedom with The Nightmare Before Christmas, and they seemed to say, "Sure, let's explore this, let's go with it.""

"No...the best part is when we're recording the orchestra, actually being there on the recording days of the orchestra. That's definitely the thrill. That's the adrenalin rush. That's the counterpoint to being on stage. Those are the two big adrenalin rushes in my life -- has been, you know, walking out on stage, still, you know, nervous. (Laughs.) As I've always been. I mean, seventeen years later it seems like it's never...that's never changed."

""I'm a real workaholic," says Elfman, who composes in twelve-hour stretches. "When I sense a real challenge, like 'This is impossible,' that's when I get fired up." Working with a familiar team helps bring sanity to the process: fellow Oingo Boingo member Steve Bartek has orchestrated all of Elfman's scores, and music editor Bob Badami and conductor Shirley Walker have been involved in most of them."

What's the coolest thing about being in the music business? I mean, in the movie business?

"Oh, there's nothing cool about the movie business."

There isn't?

"I dunno. The coolest thing?"

"Uhhh...hmm. The coolest thing about being in the movie business. It's sure not the people you meet. Uh, let's see. (Laughter.) I'm making enemies already. (Mock sincerity.) Just kidding out there, Hollywood! I love ya, Hollywood! I...I really, really do!"

Do you keep in touch with your fan sites in the net?

"No. I feel that if I start doing that, I'll have to get involved… It's like my first years as a composer, when I was under attack all the time from the film composing community, because of the misinformation. At a certain point I was spending so much energy to defend myself, that I just stopped. Forget it. Let them say what they want, let them spread lies. And it's the same about the web sites, unless I get involved, there is a lot of misinformation, lots of people saying things… And it's not worth it. Because I'll start defending myself, correcting this and that and there's not enough time in my day to do these minimal things. I find that it's a waste of energy trying to defend oneself, trying to correct the misperceptions, you know what I mean?

When I started getting e-mail, I felt it was really time consuming, because some people get really wrapped up in weird little things, and rumours, and even personal things. And I thought: that's what they want. They want your reaction. Ultimately I ended up going - "this is just a huge energy drain, I don't want to fight with this person, let them say whatever they want!" If they want to say that I go out in the world and f-ck goats, then I just ignore it or say, "yes, I love it!". If they want to say that I steal all my music from a sla
ve composer that I've got chained up on my basement whom I feed scraps of bread to - good, yes, I do that! In fact I have ten of them down there! If people want to say that they have the missing tape of me singing the entire score to "Batman" that I gave to a composer who actually wrote the score… Why am I trying to defend myself from such a stupid and absurd thing?
"Yes, of course, I sing all my scores and give them to a composer and he does all the work and then I show up a month later and take all the credit!" So, when things go to that level, it's so crazy and you have so much of it that it's better just to..."

Do you have any scores that you are particularly proud of?

"I think I'm proud of everything I've done, particularly: Batman, Batman Returns, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and of course Nightmare Before Christmas I'm very proud of - that was very hard."


Danny Elman:
"In the late 1800s, my Elfmans emigrated from Belarus, outside of Russia and Poland, to Philadelphia and Scranton, Pa. Around the same time, the family of Danny and Bodhi came from Russian and Poland and settled in Philadelphia, Chicago and Kenosha, Wis."

"The Elfman family name has infiltrated the entertainment industry in similar fashion as the names Baldwin and Barrymore. Richard's son Louis writes for Venice Magazine, while his other son Bodhi just co-starred in UPN's futuristic/kung fu series, "Freedom," and will appear in Elfman's upcoming films. Jenna Elfman is Bodhi's wife and star of the popular sitcom, "Dharma and Greg."
Richard's fiancée, Rachael Rowen, director of the feature documentary KIDNEY, hosts "Rachael Rowen's Radio Ranch."

is the mother of Richard Elfman and Danny Elfman. Clare Elfman was born in New York, relocated to Los Angeles, married Milton Elfman, teacher, and until she started her writing career, taught English (Dorsey High, Palisades High the Venice School for Teenage Expectant Mothers).

She wrote twelfth novels (under the name of Blossom Elfman) based on her experiences with pregnant teens.

"Emmy Award winner Clare Elfman is the author of fifteen novels and three screenplays, winner of two ALA Best awards for her teen novels. Clare currently is
a literary editor of Buzzine ("

More info:

More on Elfmans here:,CST-FTR-elf12.article

So-Lo (1984) (check Oingo part 2.)

Forbidden Zone (1980) (check Oingo Boingo part 1.)
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
Back To School (1986)
Wisdom (1986)
Summer School (1987)(only one song "Happy" by Oingo Boingo, check Oingo 1987 album for it!)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Big Top Pee Wee (1988)
Midnight Run (1988)
Hot to Trot (1988)(released only on "Music For A Darkened Theatre vol 1.")
Scrooged (1988)(released only on "Music For A Darkened Theatre vol 1.")
Batman (1989)
Clive Barker's Nightbreed (1990)
Darkman (1990)
Dick Tracy (1990)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Music For A Darkened Theatre (Film And Television Music) Volume 1 (Comp) (1990)
Pure Luck (1991)
Batman Returns (1992)
Article 99 (1992)
Sommersby (1993)
Army Of Darkness (1993)
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Black Beauty (1994)
Shrunken Heads (1994)
Dolores Claiborne (1994)
Dead Presidents (1995)
To Die For (1995)
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Music For A Darkened Theatre (Film And Television Music) Volume 2 (1996)
Extreme Measures (1996)
Freeway (1996)
The Frighteners (1996)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Flubber (1997)
Scream 2 ("Cassandra Aria" source cue)(1997)
Men In Black: The Score (1997)
The Simple Plan (1998)
Psycho (1998)
Modern Vampires (1998)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Anywhere But Here (1999)
A Civil Action (1999)
Instinct (1999)
Proof of Life (2000)
The Family Man (2000)
Planet Of The Apes (2001)
Spy Kids (2001)
Heartbreakers (2001)
Chicago (2002)
Men In Black II (2002)
Red Dragon (2002)
Spider-Man (2002)
Big Fish (2003)
Hulk (2003)
Spider-Man 2(2004)
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005)
Charlotte's Web (2006)
Nacho Libre (2006)
Serenada Schizophrana (2006)
Meet The Robinson's (2007)
The Kingdom (2007)
Milk (2008)
Standard Operating Procedure (2008)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Wanted (2008)
Mars Attacks!(2009)
Notorious (2009)
Terminator Salvation (2009)
The Little Things (UNKLE Variation) (2009)
Taking Woodstock (2009)
The Wolfman (2010)
Alice In Wonderland (2010)
Houdini (Broadway Musical)(2010)
Cirque de Soleil Show (TBC)(2010)
Frankenweenie (2010)
The Green Hornet (2010)
Restless (2010)

More downloads:

More info:



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7:32 AM  
Blogger unkerz said...


6:58 PM  
Blogger cuckoo77 said...

excellent job on collecting everything but the kitchen on Elfman & Boingo. I've got a couple hours of reading and exploring to do here. :)


11:13 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

Being someone who was practically raised on Oingo Boingo, it's awesome to read from others whom are even more dedicated to the music, and the background information behind it. My dad was a HUGE fan back in the 80s and I pretty much picked up on his music tastes from there. Being a huge movie lover, I pretty much will go see any movie with a score by Elfman. Loved reading through your blog posts. Great read.

2:43 PM  
Blogger vaubu said...

I followed your link to the blog that Danny's mom works on and they just posted a recent interview with him.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Phaota said...

You forgot to mention his score contributions on the classic 1987 film, Summer School. I just ripped the tracks from the 5.1 audio on my DVD today and they came out great. There are 10 instrumental tracks, all very similiar to his "Back To School" music, except for one that is clearly a precursor to his "Smylex Theme" from "Batman". Sounds nearly identical.

8:37 PM  

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