Oscar-nominated composer (and former Oingo Boingo frontman) Danny Elfman was recently profiled on Apple in an article entitled Building Music for the Movies. Elfman explained to Barbara Gibson how Macs factor into his work.
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A frequent collaborator of director Tim Burton, Elfman has created scores for motion pictures including “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Beetlejuice,” “Spiderman” and “Red Dragon.” Elfman has been nominated for Oscars for his efforts with “Men in Black” and “Good Will Hunting,” and he’s also composed for the small screen — his theme graces the opening of the popular Fox Television animated series “The Simpsons.”
Elfman explained that he uses his Mac to test ideas in ways that he couldn’t afford to do with real orchestra or band at his disposal. “With the Mac, I have an experimental freedom that’s not possible unless you have unlimited amounts of money and unlimited amounts of time to bring in players to experiment and experiment and experiment,” he said.
Elfman traces his use of the Macintosh back to 1985, when he used a primitive sequencer to create the soundtrack to “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” another Tim Burton project. The sequencer, he said, was there because he’s “not a good pianist,” and it offered him the ability to play at half-time “instead of having to bang out tunes on the piano with sweat dripping down [his] forehead like a fever.”
Today the Power Mac is his mainstay, and he keeps a PowerBook handy for network access. He uses MOTU’s Digital Performer to work out arrangements, while he and his music editors use DigiDesign’s ProTools for album mixes and other edits.