Mark Isham Black Dahlia

Mark Isham’s Film Noir Score to The Black Dahlia

Featuring: Mark Isham

On September 30, 2023, the Society of Composers & Lyricists ( hosted a Career Symposium at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. ASA President David Das hosted a score study event featuring composer Mark Isham and focusing on his 2006 film noir score to Brian Di Palma’s The Black Dahlia. Mark and David show the full scores of a handful of cues from the movie, and play them in the context of the movie, discussing the process of scoring, recording, working with a director, and more.

Mark Isham is an electronic music innovator, jazz artist and prolific film composer.  Isham’s ability to create unforgettable melodies, combined with his willingness to experiment with innovative musical palettes, has earned him accolades including Grammy and Emmy awards, and Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

Isham’s inimitable musical voice is evident in his memorable scores for award-winning features including the Oscar-winning Judas and the Black Messiah, Crash and A River Runs Through It (Oscar nomination) along with Golden Globe winning Bobby, and Nell (Golden Globe nomination). For The Black Dahlia, Isham was awarded “Best Score” by the International Film Music Critics Association.

He has collaborated with top directors and artists including Shaka King, Lynn Shelton, Swizz Beatz, Jodie Foster, George Tillman, Robert Redford, Forest Whitaker, Tom Cruise, Brian De Palma, Chick Corea, Robert Altman, Sting,, Sidney Lumet, and Mick Jagger.

Most Recently, as well as the aformentioned Judas and the Black Messiah for Warner Bros, Isham has scored Victorian Sci-Fi drama series The Nevers for HBO, and his second season of EPIX series The Godfather of Harlem. Other recent projects include Bill and Ted Face the MusicTogo for Disney+, and Hulu’s limited series Little Fires Everywhere, for which he garnered his sixth Emmy nomination.

In 2020, Isham made Cannes Film Festival history as the first film composer to perform a live in-studio concert of some of his most beloved scores, for the inaugural film music summit of the Cannes Film Market, the business counterpart of the prestigious festival.

This video is made available here by kind permission from the Society of Composers & Lyricists.


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