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Jerry Goldsmith: The Masterful Composer Behind Iconic Film Scores

Jerry Goldsmith: The Masterful Composer Behind Iconic Film Scores

Jerry Goldsmith was one of the most prolific and influential composers in the film industry. He created some of the most iconic film scores of all time, including those for “Planet of the Apes,” “Star Trek,” and “Alien.” Goldsmith’s music was known for its emotional depth, innovative use of orchestration, and ability to enhance the storytelling of the films he worked on.

Early Life and Career

Born in 1929 in Pasadena, California, Goldsmith was the son of a structural engineer and a schoolteacher. He began studying piano at a young age and went on to study composition at the University of Southern California. After graduation, he worked as a clerk typist at CBS before landing his first composing job on the television show “The Twilight Zone.”

Goldsmith went on to have a long and successful career in both television and film. He composed music for hundreds of TV shows and films, earning numerous awards and nominations along the way. Some of his most famous film scores include “Chinatown,” “Poltergeist,” and “Basic Instinct.”

Innovative Techniques

Goldsmith was known for his innovative use of orchestration and his ability to create unique and memorable soundscapes. He often employed unusual instruments and techniques in his compositions, such as using a ram’s horn in “The Omen” and a didgeridoo in “Alien.”

One of Goldsmith’s most famous techniques was his use of the “avant-garde.” He was one of the first composers to incorporate modernist techniques into film music, such as aleatoric music (music that is partially or wholly left to chance) and extended techniques (using instruments in unconventional ways). His use of these techniques helped to create a sense of tension and unease in his music, which was particularly effective in horror and suspense films.

Legacy

Goldsmith passed away in 2004, but his legacy lives on through his music. His influence can be heard in the work of many contemporary film composers, such as Hans Zimmer and John Williams. Goldsmith’s music continues to be celebrated and studied by film music enthusiasts around the world.

Career and Education

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in film music, there are a few things you can do to get started. First, it’s important to have a strong foundation in music theory and composition. You can study these subjects at a music school or university, or you can teach yourself through online courses or books.

Once you have a solid foundation in music, you can start building your portfolio by composing music for student films or indie projects. This will give you the opportunity to work with filmmakers and hone your skills as a composer.

Networking is also a crucial part of building a career in film music. Attend film festivals and industry events, and reach out to filmmakers and other composers to build relationships and collaborate on projects.


Key Takeaways

  • Jerry Goldsmith was a prolific and influential composer in the film industry, known for his emotional depth and innovative use of orchestration.
  • Goldsmith was one of the first composers to incorporate modernist techniques into film music, such as aleatoric music and extended techniques.
  • Goldsmith’s legacy can be heard in the work of many contemporary film composers, and his music continues to be celebrated and studied around the world.
  • If you’re interested in pursuing a career in film music, it’s important to have a strong foundation in music theory and composition, build your portfolio through collaborations, and network with industry professionals.

Consider taking the NYU x Billboard | Music Industry Essentials online course and certificate program to gain a deeper understanding of the music industry and develop your skills as a composer.

Enter your email to learn more and get a full course catalog!

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