This Is the Moment: David T. Little on Becoming A Composer


I didn’t know this Danny Elfman person but I went immediately to the record store
and bought the CD and then began this process of trying to understand what that was that there was this person who wrote this music Cause that’s a job? You could do that for a living? That sounds like an amazing job and I decided then that that’s what I wanted to do. This is the moment I knew I wanted to be a composer. I knew I wanted to be a composer
when I was 15 years old while watching “The Nightmare Before
Christmas” the Tim Burton film with a score by Danny Elfman. I had grown up in this sort of split world knowing musical theater and also knowing heavy metal and industrial music so this sort of playful style and then something
that was very dark and that film brought both of those together where you had this sort of composed music that sounded sort of like a Broadway musical but was about Halloween and skeletons were singing it and it sort of appealed to the part of
me that loved Nine Inch Nails and Ministry and Megadeth, you know. And so, it was the first time I ever asked “Who wrote this music?” Once I discovered Danny Elfman was a composer I then realized that I already
knew a lot of his other scores. So I already knew “Batman,” I already knew “Beetlejuice.” I knew the “Tales from the Crypt” theme. That’s when I realized it was really someone’s career. And initially I wanted to go into film scoring because that’s what I thought there was. That’s what writing music meant at that time. In this searching I very quickly discovered some piece called “The Rite of Spring” that everybody was saying was really great. And so I went out and I bought a cassette of Stravinsky conducting “The Rite of Spring.” And then I bought the Dover Score
of “The Rite of Spring” and basically tried to teach myself how to read music by trying to read along with the score, which was maybe a little too advanced just as a starting place, but I remember the first time I actually followed it all the way through was this sense of sort of great achievement. I think it took a year of like constant work to try to just not get lost reading along. And once I discovered Stravinsky
and “The Rite of Spring” that was a big shift for me because I realized that you didn’t have to be tied to film to write music. That you could write music that lived on its own That could be dramatic on its own. And that was… it was sort of all over for me at that point I think. Not long after I discovered Webern and Xenakis and on and on and on until
we come to this moment now.

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