Batman (1989) Danny Elfman
First released February 7, 2014
After the success of Edward Scissorhands, I applied for the rights to self-publish Batman. I already had the hand-written scores from when I made a photocopy for Danny. It was such a massive score that I needed help with the engraving. Feedback from customers meant that from this score moving forward, each score would have bar numbers. I was against it at first, espousing a more classical look to each score, but abandoned that style early on. Another feature that continues is scene descriptions along the top staff. Another innovation was creating a working Latin text for the cue “Descent Into Mystery”. This marked a change in my philosophy, which was to edit the music to make things more consistent across scores. The text was actually created by Danny to sound Latin, but when I approached him about adapting the text to actually be Latin he responded with enthusiasm. Batman continues to this day to be Omni’s most popular title.
No other film sparked a resurrection of a genre like Tim Burton’s Batman. Superhero movies had largely became passé throughout the 1980s. That all changed, with help from an over-zealous marketing campaign, the visionary look by acclaimed director Tim Burton, and a classic score by film composer Danny Elfman.
The score utilizes the standard idiom of the “Hollywood” style; that is to say, it was scored with a standard-sized orchestra. Any other connection to the medium ends there, because Elfman strays so far from the sound of a traditional hero film score, utilizing dark, minor keys to represent the anti-hero of Batman, that he invents the sound of a new, dark, and brooding superhero. No other film score of its kind comes close to matching the sheer originality, and bold retelling of a character through music.
Elfman starts the score with an up-tempo, minor key march, representing Batman, and we hear this theme in a multitude of variations, played by nearly every section of the orchestra, least of which is the brass section. We are then introduced to the villains, who are represented by the unstable whole tone scale, as unstable as the Joker himself. The score utilizes a massive orchestra, which, at times, boasts no fewer than 5 flutes, 6 trumpets, over 40 individual percussion instruments, and choir.
Now musicians, music students, conductors – any music lover – can study Batman in this durable, high-quality edition, carefully reproduced and edited from the original handwritten manuscript