George S. Clinton

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"I started out as a recording artist, and until Cheech & Chong approached me to score a film for them, it never occurred to me as something I might enjoy doing. I had a degree in music and knew how to write for orchestra, but knew nothing about scoring. So I took evening classes in film scoring at UCLA. It was like learning how to fly a plane by having the manual with you in the cockpit, but it turned out to be a very helpful learn-as-you-go experience. If nothing else, it taught me how much there was to learn about scoring, and I’m still learning."

"The most significant thing a film composer brings to the table is the ability to emotionally connect with a film and express that through music. If you’re not able to do that, you’re not going to be very good, no matter how much training you’ve had. This is why it’s so important for composers to trust their instincts. That’s one of the main things I’ve learned—I do best when I don’t get in my own way and over-analyze things. There is a magical thing that happens that is almost like alchemy when music and image link up in a way neither you nor the director could have predicted. Those are the moments I live for."

"Berklee is like the base camp on Mount Everest. It’s our job to teach, train, and inspire students, and try to prepare them for what’s coming next, but in the end it’s their job to climb the mountain. As an active composer, I feel I can give students an insight into the current realities of the business they’re going into. Berklee already addresses that, but it can never be overly emphasized."

"Beyond the basics of how to score film in today’s world, both creatively and practically, one of the most valuable things I would hope students gain is a real sense of who they are as an artist and a person, because you can’t separate the two. Anything that informs you as a person informs your art, and vice-versa. The challenge as I see it is to find that unique voice within yourself, and to use your musical and technical training as resources with which to express that voice. That’s what’s going to make you stand out from everybody else."

Career Highlights


  • B.S., Middle Tennessee State University, Music and Drama
  • Scored more than 100 films (Austin Powers, Cheech and Chong, Red Shoe Diaries, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee)
  • 9 BMI Film and TV Awards, including their highest honor, the Richard Kirk Career Achievement Award
  • Emmy and Grammy nominations
  • Elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Advisor at the Sundance Composers Lab for 12 years
  • Board member for the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra
  • Board of Professional Advisors member for the MTSU Mass Communication Department
  • Former staff songwriter, Tree Music, Nashville
  • Former staff songwriter for Warner Bros. Music, (Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker)
  • Four albums as a recording artist
  • Tokyo Music Festival Award winner