Danny Elfman: Introduction to Edward Scissorhands


Danny Elfman and Tim Burton reunited for the fourth time when they created Edward Scissorhands in 1990. Elfman’s score was nominated for a number of awards including a Grammy for ‘Best Original Score.’ Elfman has said on many occasions how much personal this score is to him and it still remains one of his favourite works. 

The Music

The Introduction to Edward Scissorhands is the first listen of any of Elfman’s music in the film. The music accompanies the opening titles of the film, where we see parts of the Gothic castle that Edward lives in and the heavy machinery that goes with it. Unlike the film, this opening sequence is entirely in black and white, which adds to the Gothic character of the film. 

Opening with a celestial melody played on a celesta, the creepy opening sets the scene for the film. As the strings and woodwind swell, a group of voices enter with ‘ooh’s and aah’s’ to accentuate the melody. Elfman sets the introduction into a classic 3/4 waltz, which is strict in tempo, but allows for the melody to be explored effectively. A cor anglais takes over as soloist which adds a rich timbre to the music.This instrument has often been used in ways such as this, just look at Nino Rota’s score for The Godfather. 

The child-like celestial celesta can be heard throughout, which adds a sparkling effect to the music. The cor anglais, too, often comes in and out of the texture, which accentuates pizzicato strings and cymbal crashes. The theme comes to its end as the voices recap their main theme until all that’s left is the celesta.


Final Thoughts

Still a favourite cinematic treat, Edward Scissorhands remains one of Elfman’s most popular scores. From the creepy celesta theme to the grotesque humour from the cor anglais, this introduction sets your expectation of this film from the very start.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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