Missouri State University
Tyler Durham

Tyler Durham

  • Assistant for Composer James Newton Howard and Freelancer
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Bachelor of Music (Composition)

New challenges lead to prestigious workshop

A dream come true.

Like any author, Tyler Durham pours his heart out onto the page again and again. However, Durham writes a little differently — notes instead of words, musical phrases instead of sentences, and movements instead of paragraphs. 

Durham, who graduated from Missouri State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Music in composition, was selected for the month-long ASCAP Film Scoring workshop, supported by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

"This workshop has been a dream of mine ever since I started writing music for film so to actually be there was surreal." 

Among talented participants and alumni

This competitive international workshop in Los Angeles, which started July 10, chooses 12 composers from more than 300 applicants. It offers an immersive experience for aspiring composers of film, TV and other visual media.

"We were required to send in five different demo pieces, 90 seconds or less, that showcased our creativity, orchestration ability and versatility as composers," said Durham, a Nixa native. "The first year I made it into the top 10 percent, the second year I was an alternate, and this year I was officially selected as a participant."

Some successful participants, like Joe Trapanese, applied five times before being selected. Trapanese is best known for his scores in "Tron: Legacy," and "Straight Outta Compton."

Other alumni include Matthew Margeson who scored "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" and Julia Newmann, who wrote additional music for "Bones."

Part of the workshop involved creating a score for a major motion picture, and Durham wrote for the final scene in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."  After that, a 64-piece orchestra performed what he wrote.

"It's very humbling when I learned that my music was going to be played by some of the same musicians who played on the original "Star Wars" recording, not to mention almost every other major motion picture score you can think of," Durham said.

Accomplished, but no sign of stopping

Durham graduated with his master's degree in music composition for the screen from Columbia College Chicago in May 2017. When the college offered him a chance for a five-week summer workshop, Durham followed the program to Los Angeles.

Durham plans to continue his love for composing in Los Angeles, hoping to one day score an A-grade film.

Besides landing an assistant job for American Composer James Newton Howard recently, Durham is also orchestrating for a few composers and working on a feature film, a web/TV series pilot and two video games.

Though he is grateful he is staying busy scoring many of his own projects, he wants to use his creativity and personal experiences to write scores he believes will make him his most creative self.

Durham's success and the opportunity to attend ASCAP stems from his willingness to learn. When Durham wrote "Flight of the Monarchs," he had never written anything for a wind ensemble. He took a chance and the Missouri State Wind Ensemble decided to perform it in 2014.

"That will remain an indelible highlight of my college career," Durham said.

The piece was also performed by the Henderson State University Wind Ensemble in 2015 at the Society of Composers, Inc. Student Conference. 

"I am beyond grateful to ASCAP for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity," Durham said.