Composer Profile: Brian Tyler

Inspired Emotional Connection

There has never been a time that Brian Tyler wasn’t writing music. Known today as an accomplished film composer and multi-instrumentalist, he took to music early as a form of self-expression through a process he still loves, best described as an inspired creative download.

Tyler’s talent was first uncovered when he was found performing a piano concerto from memory, later teaching himself to play 30 instruments by emulating the music he heard. While he received some formal training, and had mentorship along the way, the majority of his abilities unfolded innately. Tyler explains that creating music as a boy came from being inspired by novels and other reading, sharing that the process is still about hearing music in his head and then finding a way to present it.

With a hardwired understanding of music theory, it wasn’t until college (UCLA and Harvard) that Tyler took formal classes to facilitate orchestral work. As he puts it, “In every culture, a person will look at a tree and know what it is, but we might each call it something different.” Inherent ability notwithstanding, Tyler’s voracious reading and consumption of sound—along with a close observation of conductor techniques—make him a lifelong student committed to self-evolution. “You are an amalgam of everything you’ve learned,” he shares. “I think it's really important to listen to what you love, but [also] to try to expand your boundaries.”

With experience in full orchestral scoring, programming and sampling, and electronic and pop music, Tyler’s versatility and reputation have grown to include theme and logo songs, artistic collaborations and symphonic performances, as well as performing under the moniker Madsonik. When writing music or working on a record, he records, produces and plays all parts himself. For orchestration, he writes it all out, with results coming together during rehearsals, wanting each project to “enhance and represent the emotional tone and support the narrative of whatever I am scoring.” Says Tyler, “The human element is the ‘lightning in a bottle.’ The idea of what makes things beautiful is the imperfections—you would never auto-tune Etta James.”

There have been numerous full-circle moments—including the Children of Dune soundtrack in 2003. Writing the opening piece as a child dreaming of making orchestral music after reading the Frank Herbert series, his melody was ultimately performed by the Czech Philharmonic. Recently scoring a tragic love story as a violin concerto inspired by Gil Shaham (a violinist he has admired since childhood), Shaham ended up as the featured violinist after reading the sheet music. Referencing Stephen Hawking, Tyler said of both instances, “I was standing on the shoulders of giant influences—they are part of me.”

Tyler’s ideology has led to his latest project, Are We Dreaming. Explains Tyler, “It's the story of human beings endeavoring to unite humanity and about living every day as if it were your last, choosing joy and enjoying life.” Learning visual effects to complete the entire project himself, and performing live nightly with hopes to expand the “existential experience” in coming years, Tyler says, “The challenge of starting from the bottom again and learning something completely new is important to me.”

Tyler’s accolades include 32 BMI Awards, 5 ASCAP Awards, 12 Goldspirit Awards, 2 World Soundtrack Awards, induction into the Music Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (2010), a Cue Award for Film Composer of the Year (2014), SoundTrackFest Award (Best TV Score) for Yellowstone (2018), and Oscar-shortlisting for Crazy Rich Asians. An Emmy and BAFTA nominee, Tyler is now the 9th highest grossing film composer of all time. Recent projects include Those Who Wish Me Dead, F9 and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions.

“Never close yourself off to something new—it’s vital,” emphasizes Tyler. “In music, it’s important to pick the thing you know the least about and dive deep into it. It's those shades and the differences that actually in the end come together to make you more of an artist and a better musician.”

Contact Jeff Sanderson, Chasen & Company, [email protected]

Experience Brian Tyler at briantyler.com