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Orchestrator behind blockbuster movies 'Frozen,' 'La La Land,' and 'Ant Man' Visits SFCM

Film and game composer Tim Davies met with Technology and Applied Composition students for one-on-one lessons and gave a portfolio masterclass on film and game scoring.

October 9, 2023 by Mark Taylor

The musician behind the signature sounds of dozens of hit movies, popular video games, and record-breaking television shows, Tim Davies brought those skills to SFCM in September for a visit to the Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) program where he met 1-1 with students and gave a masterclass. 

The GRAMMY-and Emmy-nominated Davies' credits as lead orchestrator and/or conductor include Frozen and Frozen 2, all three Ant-Man movies, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, The Lego Movie 2, La La Land, Trolls, The Croods: A New Age, Free Guy, and WandaVision. He also has several video game scoring, conducting, and composition credits. 

Tim Davies SFCM.

Tim Davies (left) works with a student in Studio G.

During his meetings with students Davies helped them with their current compositions, remarking, "The level of every score that I looked at was so much higher than I've ever seen before." Davies has been visiting SFCM for several years and looks forward to working with young composers. "It has been really enjoyable," he added.

The experience gave students a firsthand look at what it's like to be a working musician in the field today. "It's one thing to hear about industry standards, another altogether to see them illustrated by an expert practitioner," said TAC professor Shawne Workman. "Our students had that chance both through one-on-one feedback on their own scores, and Tim's presentation of his own work in orchestration, arranging, and screen scoring."

Students found students working closely with Davies and his masterclass incredibly helpful. "A valuable thing I learned was the importance of the smallest of details and how they can make all the difference in a score," said Cullen Luper, a TAC student working with Daria Novoliantceva. "Tim really stressed that often less is more when trying to convey what you hear to players reading your score, and that their interpretation can often lead to new outcomes that you didn't foresee," Luper added.

Tim Davies SFCM

Tim Davies (left) works with a TAC student.

In addition to helping students with specific compositions, Davies gave general advice on how to approach new works. "His words inspired me that notation or sheet music is not the stage for composers to show off, but the place where your music can come to life, so making your score easier makes your life easier," said TAC student Adela Zu ('24). For Zu, seeing Davies' approach to a career in music was also beneficial: "What impressed me most was his attitude towards music and his life," Zu continued. "I perceived his passion and enthusiasm towards music itself as well as his life." 

During his lecture, Davies also spoke on his recent work on the extremely popular video game and subsequent hit television series The Last of Us. "You have to think of the trajectory of every line," Davies told students. "As an orchestrator you have to know ahead of time what you’re budgeted for," he added. "There’s always a way to do it." 

Davies also walked students through the music he orchestrated for Warner Bros. Discovery's latest DC movie, Blue Beetle, released in theaters this August. Working through the music made for the film was something students like Cullen found thrilling: "It was such an honor to work with the legend Tim Davies and to hear his lecture about his work and life!" he said of the experience. 

Learn more about studying Technology and Applied Composition at SFCM.