Music & Entertainment


Danny Elfman

Lesson time 1:58 min

Meet your new instructor: four-time Oscar-nominated composer Danny Elfman. He gives an overview of the class and welcomes you to his surreal and macabre world.

Danny Elfman
Teaches Music for Film
Oscar-nominated composer Danny Elfman teaches you his eclectic creative process and his approach to elevating a story with sound.
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[THEME MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC PLAYING] DANNY ELFMAN: To students that are tuning into this MasterClass, welcome to my studio. If you're a student of film music, I'm talking to you to try to show you, how do you get through a project? How do you approach a project? How do you deal with it when you have it? How do you work towards things? How do you know when you have a good idea or a bad idea? And I'm going to tell you, from my perspective, how I do these things. As a composer, I have a lot of gear. I'm going to introduce you to my acoustic instruments. We're going to talk about instrumentation. We're going to talk about orchestration. We're going to talk about melody. We're going to talk about what makes a classical film score and what makes a minimalist contemporary film score and why they both work. I call this "music out of chaos," and it's for a reason. I plan nothing. There is no right way-- there is no wrong way to approach a composition. All you have is different point of views. I want to let you know what my observations are and, mostly, what my experiences have been. I'm Danny Elfman, and this is my MasterClass.

Music out of chaos

From The Simpsons theme to the soundtracks of Tim Burton’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and The Nightmare Before Christmas, Danny Elfman’s compositions are original, memorable, and exuberantly weird. Now the Oingo Boingo founder and four-time Oscar nominee shares his unconventional (and uncensored) creative process. Step into Danny’s studio and learn his techniques for evoking emotion and elevating a story through music.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I'm so happy that Danny Elfman did a masterclass; I appreciated that he talked about film scoring in a way that can pertain to emerging composers (and not just hollywood). I loved hearing about his compositional process and his anecdotes. I've come away feeling more prepared and inspired to continue on this career path. Also, what a great guy! Hilarious and such a real person.

This class was really inspiring. I've been Elfman's fan since I was a kid and now I'm getting into music too having him as a role model. I hope some day I could do music as complex and wonderfull as he does.

I've been waiting for this one, and it was amazing! I loved every story he told, very enlightening

Even though it wasn't what I expected when I started, it was full of life lessons that can be used in any per-suite.


Lika D.

It's not so often that really great pros and successful people share both the dark side with their weaknesses and failures and the holy massive way they've been through – and that's what made this particular Masterclass so meaningful and honest. After watching all the lessons I'm quite sure that explaining voodoo magic is way harder than showing the technique) Thank you so much, Mr. Elfman for throwing light on your creation process!-)

Ursa M.

I just finished watching the whole masterclass, and I must say, I am going to miss watching this. He is a good storyteller and I think that is what makes him such a good composer for movie scores. I will certainly use his advice for my future work.

Ryan D.

That video transition with the skeleton hands is so ideal for the tone expressed in his final sentence, haha. I lost it when I saw they dropped this one, as myself, and I know others, were thinking "oh, man, Danny Elfman should do one." I'm so late; wanted to start this one the day it came out. Thanks much, Masterclass. You're like a damn happiness machine.

Sebastián V.

I enrolled in this master class because of this video. Thanks Danny, after everything you said in this video I now I'm in the correct place. I'm so excited about whats coming next.

David K.

I just finished Danny's Masterclass and it has shaken me to my core. I am 42 years old, and a commercial video director, but my first love has always been composing music. I wrote some scores while in film school, but haven't fully pursued composing as a career. But it's been like this bug nagging at me, telling me I need to put myself out there. I've been writing a few things again, unsure of what my next step should be. Watching Danny speak, I was struck by not only his humility, but his completely inspiring and easy way of talking. Hearing how even you have doubts sometimes is inspiring. I think the sign of a great artist is sometimes being your own worst critic, but it's because we want everything to be so genuinely great, we push ourselves and doubt if what we're doing is good enough. I genuinely felt like he was speaking to me, inspiring me to go for it. Danny Elfman, whose both parents were teachers - you are not only an amazing composer, you're an amazing teacher as well. Thank you so much for your inspiration. If I never get to meet you, let me say thank you.

A fellow student

The concept of "music out of chaos" is most intrepid. Can't wait to use what I learn in my scoring!

Marcus M.

His intro statement at the end is the best! I’m looking forward to this journey...

Kevin T.

Danny you have a fantastic soul, you are awesome in how you teach and write music. Superb imagination. Thank you for teaching this class I watched it all yesterday. Now I have to watch again to see what I missed especially your chart to help you get things done on time.

Ronald Q.

Holy shit, dude. Between him, James Horner, and John Williams residing on my film composer Mount Rushmore, we're having a ball just checking stuff off on my bucket list, aren't we?

Carolyn S.

THRILLING Intro Danny! I am SO excited about learning from you. We are currently working on a musical of a dark fairy tale on Climate Change ... and so it is timely to have this opportunity to learn from you - a true MASTER. [Illustration from our project The Enchantment of Clair de Lune]