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Arts & Entertainment


Danny Elfman

Lesson time 02:08 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.


[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.

About the Instructor

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.

It was very informative and inspiring! I defenitley will be coming back to this Masterclass often to find things that I didn't keep the first time.

Really liked. As I am a composer, I missed a bit of more technical stuff, team inside work, etc.

it was absolutely perfect. Danny balanced perfectly between teaching technical things, creativity knowledge and personal experience. I fill that I will want to come back many times to this class to re-watch some of those lessons.

Im film director, and this masterclass approach to be able to deal with composers and their world ! love it !


Antonia T.

So excited to start this masterclass! I've been a fan of Elfman's music since for ever. I love Tim Burton. Loved that quote: "I plan nothing". Exciting. Thanks!

Suzanne W.

I am looking forward to this class for ideas, inspiration and to explore Elfman's composing methods. I am a huge fan.

Mike H.

Huge Elfman fan her! Big influence in the work I've done in the past. Sadly, I haven't done much in the present or last few years, but maybe this is just the inspiration I need to get back at it. I truly love Elfman's work and I'm looking forward to learning from a master :)


I am not in the film/music industry nor anywhere near it, but my admiration for Danny Elfman, love of film scores and my curiosity about how scoring works pushed me to take this class. This masterclass was great! Not only did I learn a lot about the industry, I also learned very applicable life skills like; time management, harnessing creativity, how to cope with failure, communicating with your boss, how to manage frustration, analyzing and understanding the tone and vision of a body of work etc.. Danny is a very inspiring, captivating and authentic storyteller and has left me excited to dive deep into the workbook. I have so much to ponder next time i watch and listen to a film.

A fellow student

My Son and his Hubby surprised me with MASTERCLASS CLASSES for my birthday and Christmas 2019!! GreatCourses!! Best gift ever!

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.