Stephen James Taylor

Stephen James Taylor
Genres Film Music
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Guitars, keyboards, homemade instruments
Years active 1978 – present

Stephen James Taylor is a Los Angeles-based composer best known for his film and TV scores with 4 Emmy nominations ('93 and '97), 2 Annie nominations ('99 and '00) and a DVD-X Award on "Best Original Score (for a DVD Premiere Movie) to date ('05).[1] His style is a blend of pop, classical, jazz, world music and experimental surround sound genres.

Unusual notes

One of the ways he achieves his sound is by working with a larger palette of notes than those allowed on conventional instruments. He introduced microtonality to the vocabulary of film music [2] with his ground breaking score to THE GIVING (1992, Eames Demetrios)[3] composed solely using a scale with 58 tones per octave, unequal. Other Taylor scores incorporating microtonal cues include: Why Do Fools Fall in Love (film) (Warner Brothers Pictures) 1998, Gregory Nava, Timon & Pumbaa (TV series) (1995–98),[4] Mickey Mouse Works (1998–2000), THE FINAL INSULT (1997 Charles Burnett), POWERS OF TIME (1996 Eames Demetrios), A QUESTION OF FAITH (2000 Tim Disney), The Glass Shield (1995 Charles Burnett), Black Panther (TV series) (2010 Reginald Hudlin, Marvel), THE EAMES ALUMINUM CHAIR, and A GATHERING OF ELEPHANTS (Eames Demetrios 2007, 2008).


Taylor has written the scores to most of the feature films of Charles Burnett including the award winning, To Sleep With Anger (Sony Pictures), The Glass Shield, Selma, Lord, Selma, Oprah Winfrey's, The Wedding (TV miniseries), and Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation for which he won best score at the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival. For director, Robert Townsend (actor), he has scored several projects including Holiday Heart for Showtime, and the recent feature film about the life of Sonny Liston, Phantom Punch (film), starring Ving Rhames. Other credits include the HBO movie, BOYCOTT, directed by Clark Johnson, the Disney animated theatrical release, Teacher's Pet (film), as well as a number of television, cable and direct to video movies[5] including the 2016 film Southside With You, which dramatizes the first date between President Barack Obama and his future wife, Michelle Robinson, and the documentary Maya Angelou And Still I Rise.


His prime time music career began in 1981 when he joined the composing team of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter writing and orchestrating for such shows as Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Magnum, P.I. and Hunter. He co-wrote the theme to ABC’s Gideon Oliver in 1988 and in 1993 he was hired by David Chase (who later went on to create and produce The Sopranos) to write the music for the 2nd season of NBC's I'll Fly Away resulting in Taylor's 2nd Emmy nomination. Another historically significant network show was Under One Roof for which he wrote the main title song and underscore for the first few episodes. This CBS show was the last primetime black family show on a major, non-cable network.


In 1996 he was commissioned to write and conduct an orchestral suite, with Mark Watters, for the Atlanta Symphony to perform at the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics for which he received a BMI Olympic Tribute Award. In 2007, he was also hired to create world music for the lobby of the World of Coca-Cola (museum) in Atlanta as well as do some surround sound design for one of the permanent installations there.


Taylor’s experience in writing music for animation began with Hanna Barbera and Ruby-Spears in 1980, runs through Spielberg's Tiny Toon Adventures in the late 1980s and several series for Disney TV animation in the 1990s such as Jungle Cubs and Raw Toonage, up through the present with the recent release of the Black Panther for Marvel. He was hired in 1991 to write a new theme for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, for which he also provided the score for 2 seasons. He composed the underscore and main title song for all 3 years of Mickey Mouse Works (later incorporated into the newer show, House of Mouse) with a 12 piece band that included homemade instruments and fretless guitar.[6][7] This show represented the first time the core Disney characters (Mickey et al.) had been animated for television in 50 years.


He received a bachelor's degree in music composition from Stanford University, after which he continued his studies in classical composition and conducting privately with Henri Lazarof, Dr. Albert Harris (composer), and microtonality with Erv Wilson. In recent years he has been expanding his music composition skills into the visual arena via a multimedia programming language known as Max/MSP. As a "music oriented content provider", he has redefined himself as a 21st-century composer/artist.


  1. Awards for Stephen James Taylor
  2. Kimpel, Dan. “Stephen James Taylor; Taylor Making a New Musical Vocabulary”, ‘’Film Music Magazine, Vol.1 No.5, Nov-Dec 1998, [Film Music Network].
  3. Thomas, Kevin. “Do-Gooder's Dilemma in 'The Giving'”, ‘’LA Times, , December 17, 1992..
  4. Craig, Tony. “Animation and Music ...”, ‘’Animation World Magazine, Issue 4.1, April 1999, [Animation World Network].
  5. Stephen James Taylor at IMDb
  6. Levy, Adam. “MIckey Mouse Music: Stephen James Taylor scores 'The Nutcracker'”, ‘’Guitar Player Magazine, March 2000, page 53.
  7. Levy, Adam. [ “Stephen James Taylor; Taylor Making a New Musical Vocabulary”], ‘’Film Music Magazine, Vol.1 No.5, Nov-Dec 1998, [Film Music Network]
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/5/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.