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Participant Tales: Andy O' Farrell - 'But what if I've never done film scoring?'

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

This week, we're going to hear about the brilliant Andy O' Farrell! Andy is an awesome jazz drummer from the Republic of Ireland, who I had the privilege of meeting last summer during the 2018 GEMS summer program.

Andy O' Farrell Drummer - Performer - Composer

Let's see what Andy is up to and he had to say about last year's course!

So what are you up to at the moment, musically?

As a drummer, I’m currently playing a lot of jazz with my own trio, as well as working as a sideman to several other Dublin-based jazz musicians. Mostly playing jazz standards but also some original material.

I’m also writing my own songs/compositions and experimenting a lot with Logic Pro lately, which I had never used prior to doing the course, so thank you to everybody in Madrid for showing me what it can do!

What was the most important thing you learned from the course?

That a lot of film scores are composed using a 'song form' structure, and that you only need a few themes in order to score an entire film if you develop them in the right way.

Also, that just like in any other avenue of music, you should sound like yourself. John Williams is already there to sound like John Williams, and Hans Zimmer is already there to sound like Hans Zimmer. You can learn a lot from what those guys have done, but at the end of the day, originality is one of the most important parts of composition.

- Listen to what Andy sounds like here! -

Did the course help you mature as both a composer, and a person?

Definitely! It taught me some really valuable lessons in just listening to what you hear in your head and not over-thinking things too much. The music’s all there already, you just have to listen to what’s playing in your head and turn it up loud!

It also forced me to work under some pretty intense time constraints and showed me that I can compose something I’m proud of while under pressure. I always try to push myself to work with the same uncompromising attitude and efficiency now.

What did you enjoy about the program?

I really loved being surrounded by so many great people who were all so passionate about scoring. Everybody came from so many different musical backgrounds, and having so many different approaches in one room created a really inspiring environment to work in. You could learn something from everybody around you. Also, the evening masterclasses were all awesome!

I would have liked for the program to include a specific orchestration techniques course.

(Andy hit the nail on the head here! This year we are adding an orchestration program with the brilliant award winning Orchestrator Pete Anthony! Teacher at USC. Click here to find out more: The Pete Anthony Orchestration Program

How would you describe the course in 3 words?




What did you take away from the program?

I think it was a fantastic introduction to the world of scoring for me, I feel like I got what I wanted from the course. It was an incredible launchpad from which I can now explore my own compositional sound and discover more about the specific areas that interest me.

I’d absolutely love to work with Christopher Young again! He’s a fantastic mentor who is incredibly generous with his wisdom, and a really cool guy to hang out with!


There you go, folks. For anyone who's worried to join because they've never done film-scoring - here's your answer! Andy was new to film scoring, but loved the course and came away with new craft skills and an amazing recording!

Writen by the one and only Maria Borg

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