Wise Words from Seven Legends of Film Scoring

Whether you’re scoring a 10-minute passion project or a feature length film destined for the big screen, it’s well known that finding the perfect balance between sound and picture is a challenging art to master.  The right soundtrack can transform a scene, drive a narrative or move people to tears.  

While we don’t have all the answers to composing the perfect score, we do know that we can all learn a lesson or two from the Greats.  So, we curated some of our favorite quotes about film scoring from the composers who have continuously stunned the world with their uncanny ability to pair music and film. If nothing else, hopefully these words of wisdom will help kick start your creativity, and maybe teach you something along the way. Enjoy.

“A good score should have a point of view all of its own. It should transcend all that has gone before, stand on its own two feet and still serve the movie. A great soundtrack is all about communicating with the audience, but we all try to bring something extra to the movie that is not entirely evident on screen.” -- Hans Zimmer (Interstellar, Gladiator, The Dark Knight, The Lion King)


"I want to write and feel the drama. Music is essentially an emotional language, so you want to feel something from the relationship and build music based on those feelings.” -- Howard Shore (The Silence of the Lambs, Lord of the Rings, Hugo, Twilight)

“It should sound like good music, it should always have a structure to it. But basically it should be musical and listenable. And it should be able to, away from the picture, conjure up the same sort of feelings and images that it was meant to on screen.” -- Patrick Doyle  (Brave, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, As You Like It, Sense and Sensibility)

“Take it feeling by feeling. It's a very emotional process for me. Whatever I put down, I want it to be a reflection of whatever I felt at that moment.”  -- Michael Giacchino (Up, Star Trek, Doctor Strange, Star Wars: The Force Awakens)


“I think that the great part of creativity is overcoming fear. Fear is a given. When you sit down and have to begin something, don't be afraid to be filled with fear, because it goes with the turf.” -- Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek, Mulan, Planet of the Apes, Rudy)

“You have to make an audience experience with the ears as well as their eyes.”  -- James Horner (Braveheart, Apollo 13, Titanic, A Beautiful Mind)


"I'm trying to interpret the film through the director's head, but it all comes out through me. So, a composer is kind of like a psychic medium.” -- Danny Elfman (Good Will Hunting, Milk, Mission: Impossible, Alice in Wonderland)

Posted on December 9, 2016 and filed under Filmmaking.