Not by Danny Elfman

This track is not by Danny Elfman.

You remember Danny Elfman. He wrote several dark noirish movie scores for Batman films and the like back in the 1990s. Also Spiderman 2, and others. Like me, he’s also a singer-songwriter.

But the composition that makes some think that this composition NOT by Danny Elfman actually sounds like it is, is his theme song from “The Simpsons,” which has probably made Danny very rich.

To be clear, “Spooky Freaky Music” has not made me rich. It was, however, originally composed as the main for a low budget horror film—“Alien Abduction” (2005) by my friend, Eric Forsberg. Eric loved it. The producers of the film hated it. In fact, they hated my music in general. To be fair, they were awful people with zero musical taste. Still, they paid me $1000 for my efforts. Definitely not Danny Ellman money.

Also, Not Influenced by Danny Elfman

I do get why people will be reminded by Elfman in this composition: it shares some of the same dark comic qualities. A certain bouncy, jovial evil. I like it. But it was not influenced by Danny Elfman in any way. I never studied him or really thought about him at all.

I did study Stravinsky, so maybe he’s in there. For one, there’s the odd time signature (15/8). And the weirdly symmetrically asymmetrical chords. (Don’t ask what that means.)

Still, even though this falls out of the “normal” for me stylistically, it’s very much me. And that brings to mind an interview with the great pianist Keith Jarrett several years ago in the Chicago Tribune. Howard Reich, the interviewer (still at the Tribune) was noting how a certain track on the album they were discussing was strongly influenced by Bela Bartok. Jarrett interjected that he understood why Reich would feel that way, but he was dead wrong.

The point here (is there a point?) is that as artists, we can arrive at similar ends without being influenced by someone. There is a certain superficial laziness in making quick judgments like Reich’s: well, you know Keith uses tone clusters here like Bartok, so he must have gotten it from Bartok because he used those types of things, right?

Doesn’t Even Sound Like Danny Elfman (When you think about it)

And that’s the point: Jarrett was annoyed with Reich’s snap judgment because it essentially assumed he, Jarrett, couldn’t come up with his own approach to using tone clusters, that he just passively copied Bartok. That’s the kind of thing that pisses off artists. You are assuming that we haven’t done the work to come up with our own thing; that we can’t think for ourselves.

So no, this is not only not by Danny Elfman, it doesn’t even sound like him. When you think about it.

About the Track:

As mentioned above, the track was originally composed for the film, “Alien Abduction.” I recently released it on an album of similar BIG orchestral film themes, “Big Ass Orchestral Film Cues” You can find it on the streaming music services by following this link.

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