ASCAP Golden Note Award

Alf Clausen

Angelo Badalamenti

The ASCAP Golden Note Award is presented to ALF CLAUSEN for his ongoing success as one of the most versatile and popular composers, conductors, and arrangers in television and film music.

Alf Clausen was performing and scoring music for decades before he began his career-defining tenure on The Simpsons, America's longest-running American sitcom and animated show. In fact, you might say that he was primed for success from the very beginning. "[My mother] would have me come to the Home Acres clubs when I was five years old, and sing Norwegian songs," Clausen recounts. "I was dressed up in shorts, singing my little heart out. So that was my first professional engagement."

Growing up in Jamestown, North Dakota, Clausen was immersed in music education. His teachers exposed him to the great composers; he played French horn in his high school concert band and joined the choir; during the weekends, he played bass with casual bands and traveling territory bands. "One of the fun parts of that kind of gigging was being able to know a lot of songs. And that was one of my specialties...I had a repertoire of thousands of songs."

But Clausen had long known that his ambitions lay in composing. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 60's, eventually finding work as a freelance arranger for The Carol Burnett Show and The Smothers Brothers. He became music director for Donny & Marie in the late 70's, then landed the MD role on Mary Tyler Moore.

In the 80's, Clausen aimed his sights on scoring to picture. He worked on several films and the Fame series under veteran composer Bill Goldstein and composed film scores for Princess Daisy and Fast Walking with Lalo Schifrin. His big break came courtesy of ASCAP composer Lee Holdridge, who got him a job scoring the beloved Moonlighting series. The music for the ABC hit drew on every bit of Clausen's wide-ranging musical background: "We did the very famous black and white episode, 'The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice.' I recorded quite a bit of original big band music, which [Moonlighting producer] Glenn Caron used to shoot a lot of the show to…There was another one called 'Atomic Shakespeare,' which was done in Shakespeare's time. I had to use a lot of period instruments to play the music for that one… Those were the kinds of challenges that Glenn threw at me."

Surprisingly, Clausen declined the initial offer to score The Simpsons, telling creator Matt Groening that he preferred to extend his career in drama. "His response to me was 'We don't look upon our show as being a cartoon. We look upon it as being a drama where the characters are drawn, and I'd like it to be scored that way.' So at that point, the light bulb went on and I thought 'Well, this is kind of interesting!'"

And interesting it remains, though Clausen is the first to admit that it's tough to keep things fresh after 21 seasons. "That's a big challenge. I try not to pull too much from past episodes. I have a joke that if I pull a cue from an old episode, and use it in the episode cue for this week, those shows will end up in back to back nights in syndication. Somebody's out there, saying 'What a slacker, man. He used the same cue two nights in a row!'"

Clausen cemented his place in the film/TV music pantheon long ago, and he's been rewarded for it with multiple Emmys, Annies and ASCAP Film/TV honors. So what's special about winning the Golden Note? "I've been a member of ASCAP since 1970, and to me, ASCAP is the only way. I've worked very hard, passing those sentiments on to my interns and even my son, who's a composer and a staunch ASCAP member. I'm not old enough to receive this award yet, but I'll take it!"


Number One With A Bullet

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Additional Music)
Dragnet (Additional Music)
Weird Science (Additional Music)


She Knows Too Much (NBC)
My First Love (ABC)
Double Agent (Disney)
Murder In Three Acts (CBS)
Stranded (NBC)


The Simpsons
The Critic
My Life And Times
Christine Cromwell
Police Story
Lime Street
Partners In Crime
The Mississippi
Wizards & Warriors


A Very Retail Christmas
The Wickedest Witch
46th Edition Of Ice Capades East
Thicke Of The Night
Tonight Show
Merv Griffin Show
John Davidson Show
John Schneider Christmas
ABC Winter Olympics
Mary Tyler Moore Hour
Donny & Marie
Paul Lynde Comedy Hour
Maude (Telethon & Bicentennial Specials)
Love Letter To Jack Benny
To Laughter With Love
Juke Box Awards
A Country Christmas
Emmy Awards
The Show Must Go On
Hand In Hand
Face The Music
Subaru Special
Tony Orlando Rainbow Hour
Lights, Camera, Monty!
Super Night At The Super Bowl
Comedy Awards
Dorothy Hamill Show
Goldie Hawn Show
Funny World Of Fred & Bunni
Smiling Saturday Morning Parade
Jr. Neophonic Orchestra Christmas
American Junior Miss Pageant
ABC Promotional Overture 1981
NBC Family Christmas
The New $100,000 Name That Tune