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What do Hollywood’s top film composers listen to while they’re working?
Danny Elfman, whose recent credits include Frankenweenie and Hitchcock, said he ends the day by listening to the antithesis of whatever type of music he’s working on — or he’s “screwed,” because otherwise he’d carry his work into his sleep.
“If I’m working on orchestral music, I’ll listen to nothing orchestral. I might put on Radiohead or some music from Africa or something that is so far from what I’m working on that it’ll hopefully, with luck, take it out of my mind,” Elfman said.
The Sessions composer Marco Beltrami said when he’s on the job, listening to music can be a distraction — something that is occasionally necessary.
“There’s no hard and fast rule for me about listening or not listening to music,” he said.
Patrick Doyle (Brave) said film scoring is such a consuming business that it’s easy to lose focus on anything else. To illustrate how absentminded he sometimes becomes when working, he told a story of driving home and feeling a pain in his face.
“I discovered that the entire journey I had a pencil in my mouth. And I thought it was something with my jaw,” Doyle said. “That’s the state you get into.”
On that note, Elfman made a rather macabre joke.
“I found a severed head in my lap once. I had no idea how it got there,” Elfman said. “There was one less hooker in the world and I had no explanation for it, other than I was really focused on that cue.”
THR’s composer roundtable also featured Mychael Danna (Life of Pi), Alexandre Desplat (Argo, Moonrise Kingdom, Rise of the Guardians, Zero Dark Thirty) and Fernando Velazquez (The Impossible). The conversation was moderated by THR international news editor Kevin Cassidy and music editor Shirley Halperin. Watch the entire, uncensored interview here.
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