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There were a few sentimental pieces on EMM, with several by parents ruminating on their children. Isaac’s World is the most literal of the pieces, featuring audio recorded by composer Filipe Leitao during the three years of their son’s life. This was also the only piece I heard utilizing recorded sounds in a rhythmic sampling type way, à la Paul Lansky, specifically Table’s Clear or Idle Chatter. [...] The first words uttered in the piece were striking, emulating what it must feel like to hear a child’s first words (an experience I’ve never felt, and expect this to be a weak facsimile). The piece grew in intensity and joyfulness, ending with a shouted “Isaac!” Isaac’s World was unlike almost all other pieces I heard at EMM, and was executed quite well.

- Diakcritical Kansas City, about my piece 'Isaac's World' performed at the Electronic Music Midwest Festival

Ludmila Dayer
Collaborating with Filipe on my film was a harmonious journey where every note was a brushstroke painting the soul of my story, creating a symphony of emotions that resonated with the very heartbeat of the narrative.

Ludmila Dayer, filmmaker, Lupi Productions

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Paula Saslow
Filipe is a director’s dream. ​He quickly understood the mood and tone I wanted to accompany the story and composed his music accordingly. 

Paula Saslow, filmmaker, Cooper Rose Films

Love his music! Filipe not only crafted the beautiful music but also created a perfect mood and added extra appealing for my short film. 

Ruchirek Yui Somrit, film director and 3D lighting artist​

What grads say about Dr. Leitão

Stacey Sharpe talks about her studies with Dr. Filipe Leitão
Jose Alvarez-Manilla Sanchez talks about his studies with Dr. Filipe Leitão
VCU Alumnus Justin Willbanks talks about his studies with Filipe Leitão
VCU Alumnus Robert Rosenbrook talks about his studies with Filipe Leitão [English Subtitles]
Craig First
I have taught composition for 29 years at major universities in the United States and taught countless students from around the globe. I say sincerely, that Filipe Leitao is among the top three composers with whom I had worked. Moreover, he is without a doubt one of the leading composers of his generation.

C. P. First, Professor of Composition, retired, The University of Alabama School of Music

Davis Brooks
I have had the most wonderful pleasure commissioning and working with Filipe Leitao. He is immensely talented and I often seek his advice on my own editing and sound design projects. His sound manipulation and compositional skills on his violin and tape piece 'Inquietude' are inventive, complex with many layers, and are so well crafted. Highly recommended! 

Davis Brooks, Professor of Violin Emeritus, Butler University

Dirk Epperson
Filipe Leitão shows his compositional mastery of both acoustic and electronic music in the classical fusion piece Inquietude. With Davis Brooks playing an impressive tour-de-force on violin, the score traverses a wide range of emotions, from lyrical to angry, from languid to frenetic. This could portend the next phase in classical fusion.

Dirk Epperson, Arranger, Orchestrator, and 


Presenting to VCUarts Students

Mr. Leitao is an expert on DAWs, composition, and arranging. Most importantly to an educational environment, he communicates and provides feedback on this subject matter in a caring, skillful manner.

Nataniel Scida

I really enjoyed the presentation yesterday and I always enjoy his presentations. I was especially intrigued by what "dramatic scoring" is and the different aspects of all his different classes.

Brooklyn Morgan

I enjoyed learning about scoring and am hoping to soon learn more about production here at VCU. I would enjoy it if he spoke again, for myself I would like to hear more about the music industry and recording more commercial and pop music.

Christina Ranfield

Students' Surveys

Reviews provided by anonymous surveys at Virginia Commonwealth University (without revision)

Course: Film & Media Scoring

This class was incredibly useful and expanded my knowledge of music composition and scoring for film on multiple fronts. I got practice making music for genres and types of media I wouldn't have otherwise, as well as gained useful insight into how the business/career aspect of being a composer works. Dr. Leitao cares about the in–classroom experience with his flexibility and hands–on demonstrations and analyses, as well as the out–of–classroom experience with networking, business, individual comments, etc. His ability to encourage everyone's creative passion and practical skill keeps the class positive but invaluable as a composition course. Leitao was a fantastic professor who really inspired me and helped me learn the necessary tools I need to pursue a career in film scoring. This course is really fun! I appreciate the challenge of composing something every week. I appreciate the opportunity to study under such an accomplished musician. He has a plethora of tools and resources for us to have and always sends us opportunities when he finds out about them.  Dr. Leitão gives the students a plethora of resources to expand their skills in film scoring while still allowing them creative freedom. He’s particularly focused on how the content will serve the students beyond their time in the classroom during their careers, and touches on the business/client relation side of film scoring in addition to the actual artistry. This was an amazing class! Leitao also adjusted the course to include a small sample project before we scored an actual scene so it gave us 2 weeks to work on the different styles rather than just one. I really like that adjustment to class. Thanks for a great semester, have a good winter break! I learned so much throughout this course. Thank you for being a great instructor! I have found a new passion in scoring, and now I have another career option thanks to Professor Leitao and this course. ​Thank you for being such an awesome, understanding, and supportive professor. I learned so much during this course! Leitao is a great professor! Great professor. Gives guidelines, but lets you express in your own way. He has a very big "growth" mindset which I like, he enjoys what we do and gives us steps to help us do even more. ​I can safely say this was my favorite class this semester, and learned a great deal through our assignments and discussions! Professor Leitao is very forthcoming with his advice and guidance for any topic in this course. He is easy to get in touch with and is eager to share his knowledge. The assignments are straightforward, and allow each student to impart their own styles and influences regardless of musical capability. He is supportive of group critique and encourages good discussion over the different elements of film scoring. Professor Leitao is very kind, knowledgeable, laid back yet effective at teaching students what they need to know about music production. His style is very much learning by doing. At the beginning of the year, I knew very little about music production techniques, and now I am composing music for clients. He allowed students outside of the music school to take this class. Each student was graded based on the merits of their own work regardless of skill level. In general, everything felt fair to each student and I never felt like I was just having my work run through a checklist. One of my favorite classes in all four years! ​Professor Leitao is very knowledgeable and passionate about the course material and is happy to help students and grades fairly as well. Class was very interactive since we all discussed our work together and watched it together which i think was probably the most valuable part of class. ​When reviewing the pieces we made for each assignment we are able to converse freely about the work. There are never any wrong questions and he tries his hardest to involve everyone even with the challenge of an online semester. Dr. Leitao always does a great job demonstrating and explaining concepts in real time in order for students with varying levels of musical training to understand and recreate them. He always provides enough time to complete assignments, provides great feedback on works–in–progress, and always gives plenty of time after said feedback to make additions to the assignments before they are due.

Course: MIDI Orchestration

Fantastic and thorough course that dives into the complexities of what an orchestra is composed of and how to reproduce it. The content was deeply informational while not becoming overwhelming. Professor Leitao is a great instructor who is able to provide specific and pinpointed feedback to every student's work.

Thank you so much for this awesome opportunity of learning from you this year. I'm never gonna forget what you taught me, and I can't wait for you to see or hear what I do next.

It has been a wonderful class, It gave me insight I didn't have before about each section in an orchestra and the function they play within it. It also allowed me to discover my personal workflow for writing music for orchestra pieces and specific sections of it. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who is interested in producing in a DAW environment as well as people interested in composition!

The progression of Analysis, to arrangements, to hands–on compositional techniques among each of the four families of Orchestra is incredibly elegant and makes projects that seem almost insurmountable at the beginning of the semester start to break down into much more achievable and digestible steps. 

This has been one of the most informative and fascinating courses in all of my years at VCU. Dr. Leitao is an amazing professor and is very good at teaching the skills obtained in this course – I have definitely learned a whole new set of skills through this. I enjoyed the depth and detail throughout this course, and Dr. Leitao organized the materials and assignments perfectly. Great learning experience.

Absolutely loved this course.

Describing/providing the framework with which students can self–evaluate their pieces even when the Professor is not present (whether through various tools/skills we learn like EQ, ensemble balance, realistic mixing/mastering, panning, etc.) has been useful as a tool of independent growth and study.

I enjoyed this class, and I felt like it made me a better composer and also able to understand how to make Midis sound more realistic. My career path is not essentially going to lean towards the style of music we focused on in class; nonetheless, I see myself now being able to implement orchestral sounds into my future music. I appreciated the peer critique as well because I felt as if it gave me a broad spectrum and opinions on my compositions. This course opened my eyes to how to make instruments sound more realistic and how to better mix my music. I am excited to continue with the skills I have learned in this class and to further them in the future.

I learned so many useful skills in this course!

Such a wonderful class! Prof Leitao is amazing and knows his stuff, I am so excited to use these skills for the rest of my life!

Course: Dramatic Scoring

This year has been seriously eye–opening in terms of progress and my potential. When the year started, I didn't have any tools to be able to express different genres of music that I felt I had within myself. The tools that I learned in Dramatic Scoring with Felipe Leitao will go with me through life forever, and I can’t wait to build on them even more. Now I can compose music for comedies, horrors, adventure, fantasy, action and more. I never thought I would be able to make it here, but working through the courses that Professor Leitao teaches at VCU has helped me realize my potential quite literally. I can't wait to take the next course!

I got out of this class what I put in; and gained valuable insight that will help my portfolio and industry expectations beyond just learning the class material. The professor constantly makes efforts to network us with other VCU students or real opportunities in the world while we're in class, and will show us his workflow, provide reference tracks, and gently encourage the development of our skills. It's a great classroom environment and the professor's demeanor is tonally appropriate with the level of difficulty in the coursework.

Amazing class, and he got me to grow as a musician and a composer.

Fantastic class! His use of film scores we already knew (cough cough, Star Wars) to illustrate points was so cool and his explanations of concepts were clear and applicable.

Course: Digital Music Production

Excellent Course. I was surprised to see the diversity in assignment requirements, and it was for the best. I think this course serves as a fantastic intro to the Logic DAW and the bigger picture opportunities involved in the production side of the music industry. I look forward to seeing Leitao again in the Spring for MIDI Orchestration.

The atmosphere of the class is one of the best to fit in different types of expression, and I think that’s hard to pull off, so I think it’s been a great class and experience this semester.

BEST CLASS EVER!!! Professor Leitao is awesome, he creates space for students to be creative and inspires them.
This was a great course. Professor Leitao is a great mentor and doesn't discriminate based on style of music or creative vision. As an artist I already have a solid foundation in the DAW we used, but I ended up a lot more and perfecting my craft. Professor Leitao is helpful, responsive, polite, and talented!

I loved this class and Professor! I came into the course significantly behind my peers in regards to experiences, and Prof. Leitao was very patient and encouraging with me, I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the class.

Professor Leitao is one of the best professors I have had at VCU! He is willing to help students learn in the best he can no matter what! He is also not opposed to sharing his connections/suggestions to things for students who are more advanced and I think that's great!

Professor Leitao is very inclusive! He is willing to take any suggestions from any student when he is doing a Demo. He does not just write them off just because they are the student and he is the teacher and that is something that is VERY important to me!

He always leaves the floor open for questions and always checks in on the class to make sure he is not going too fast.

listens to everyones work and gives honest feedback even going into the software and demonstrating what could possibly be fixed or improved on.

He's super passionate about composing which inspires me to want to be passionate about the work too. Recently we've had a lot of laughs which has taken a lot of the intimidation I originally felt coming into this class. He's also really open for communication and feedback whenever available which also helps take a lot of the edge off. Being very hands on with instructing and communicative is something I really look for in a professor because that shows me I'll have a comfortable learning experience.

Professor Leitao is amazing and extremely open with creative endeavors, it's the perfect environment for the class.

​I learned a lot about how music functions and is generated in a digital space. The skills taught in this class are incredibly useful for musicians in the modern era.

​I appreciate how caring and supportive Professor Leitao is. It's also easy to see how passionate he is about music which definitely helps when he is teaching.

The class was very fun and interesting, it provided different aspects of learning how to use a DAW and its different purposes.

Dr. Leitao is great! He is very knowledgeable about the subject and I plan on taking another one of his courses next semester because he is such a great teacher.

As someone with zero experience with music production, I learned so much this semester about how to produce and manipulate audio with logic pro software in this class.

Professor Leitao was an awesome instructor! He was obviously very knowledgable in his craft and I was amazed whenever he would show us his own works. I especially liked how he recorded his lectures to allow people to come in person or virtual. His projects were also reasonable and fun. 

I loved this course. I have been able to learn a lot in a subject I'm interested in.

As a stem student, this class was one of my favorite ways to destress and express my creative side. I have been inspired to start playing music again and I will miss this class. Thank you for an amazing semester.

Professor Leitao and his teachings are great. I've already known a good amount about music production and logic pro x, but he taught me so much more than I ever knew. It's really helped me a lot to become a well–rounded producer.

Professor Leitao is brilliant! He has truly challenged the way I think about sound while teaching in a way that was familiar to people with no background in reading/writing music. I would definitely take another course with him if given the opportunity!

I'm really glad VCU added this course just in time for me to take it before graduating and they picked the right professor for it. Very experienced, knowledgeable about Logic and music in general, and has been able to answer every question fully. I would postpone graduation if there was a Digital Music Production 2.

​Overall, it was a fun course and I learned a lot about the complexities of sound/music production.

Professor Leitao, Thank you for a great class! Even though it was pretty fast paced, I still feel like I learned a lot, and I'm excited to work in logic over the summer and get to study with you again this fall.

Dr. Leitao has easily become one of my favorite professors. I have learned so many useful skills through this class and I am definitely grateful that I have taken this class.

Professor Leitao structured the class so that it has elements of a master class and a lecture class. I thought the comments he gave in the master class portion were super helpful and the information provided in the lecture portion was very informative

Dr. Leitao is extremely knowledgeable and taught this course extremely well. He was open to any questions and concerns and met all of the needs of the students. Our assignments were very engaging and were structured in a way to help us learn. I definitely learned so much from this course and would recommend it to anyone.

The feedback and education we received in this class was outstanding. Attention issues made it hard for me to focus and I missed out on a lot, but I still managed to learn a lot and am way more comfortable with the DAW software we learned to use. I also think the workload is manageable given proper time management. This class works well in an online format.

Filipe was great at providing a foundation in understanding music production. Also found the sound design aspect of movie production to be a long term skill gained through this class.

​The instructor was readily available and gave constructive feedback. The professor was accommodating with circumstances that resulted from remote learning.

The way that Prof. Leitao gave tutorials on the programs (Logic, Pro Tools) was so enlightening and he should definitely continue teaching with this approach. He was also extremely understanding and patient with people (with people who aren't majoring in music), which are extremely great qualities to have when teaching. I also think critiques were helpful and the nicest critiques I've ever had.

Professor Filipe Leitao adjusts well to the recent changes for his course [COVID-19]. He maintains excellent communication with his students and is comfortable using technical equipment for his class. He is always professional and is knowledgeable of music and technology. He is an excellent professor to work with and hope that he continues teaching his courses in the future.

Professor Leitao did a great job of checking in with each student individually to make sure they were on track and able to create what they envisioned for their projects. He made himself available outside of class hours and really cared about the students and their work. He is also very knowledgeable about music production, composition, and the programs that we used in the class.

​I learned a lot and the class inspired me to work more with sound. At long last I understand what mastering and mixing means haha. My favorite class this semester.

I really liked the sound design and composing for the animation, I thought it gave a unique experience of learning how to accompany visuals appropriately and explore new parts of Logic.

Prof. Leitão was literally the most patient professor I've ever had. It takes a lot of energy to teach a group of people a program no one is familiar with and with everyone having different skill levels and he did it fantastically and with positive energy. One of the nicest people I've met.

​Dr. Leitao's assignments were always engaging and informational with a high degree of personal freedom which made them very enjoyable and allowed us to form our own style and workflow.

​The course has a lot of potential for collaboration with students overall, it has been very helpful for my other assignments.

He does an excellent job of including everyone and giving attention to all, and this even though there seems to be a wide range of previous musical and digital composing experience in the student group.

​Filipe makes sure to frequently ask if we have any questions, and always gives great explanations and answers when we do. He is always willing to help and that makes it easy to approach him if needed.

Your class is awesome. I'm very happy with it!

Course: Sound/Image/Music

This class has taught me the basics and more of film scoring in terms of music theory. I previously had baseline knowledge of music theory after years of playing and taking lessons for piano and violin, but this class enhanced this knowledge, especially in close relation to movies specifically (especially in terms of what certain instruments are usually used to represent, e.g. brasses for adventure). My vocabulary of film scoring jargon also grew with phrases and words like prepared piano and mickey-mousing. I think one thing that I certainly learned the most of that I was not expecting was the entire history of film scoring since silent film to current day. This gave me such a broad scope of understanding how music in film has evolved to today, notably with the use of electronic music. I also learned a lot about the communication between director and composer, especially with that first documentary, and I found that all extremely interesting learning just how much power the composer has and how much the director has in the film's final score.
​I have learned that visuals and sound go hand in hand when it comes to creating a film, and that with the right score, films can be elevated their highest potential. It's important going into film, to notice other film scores and understand the history of it, to apply sound and inspiration to your own films.
I have learned about how important the relationship between composer and director is. I never realized how much they had to collaborate and how long their process together can take. I especially enjoyed watching the documentary earlier on in the semester and learning about spotting sessions!
I have learned much from this class including the history and evolution of film scores (mainly Hollywood) from the early 1900s all the way to modern day! I also learned much vocabulary about film scores and music in general, which helps me identify and explain some of the thoughts I had about music before, but could never put in to words. Also, I learned about the wide variety of film scores used and when to appropriately apply them to a certain narrative. 
Filipe was extremely knowledgeable, and it was very helpful and interesting to watch him do live demonstrations of music in film. It was really cool to see things that he worked on, and the film examples given were informative in the lessons.
He always made everyone understood all assignments. He emailed us and messaged and went above and beyond to ensure we all were successful in his course. He was very kindhearted and super cool. I truly love this course and my Professor.
I really liked the pacing of the class and the examples that were provided with different film, I feel like it gave a lot more clarity and insight on what he was talking about.
It's been great! I genuinely appreciate the snippets of seeing pieces of music come together while discussing their historical development.
In this class I have learned about not only simply the composing and technical form of film scores themselves but more importantly how film scores are created based on the content of the film and in what ways they can interact with the characters, settings, and conceptual themes of the film in order to enhance and emphasize the intent of the film itself. Learning about the distinction between a piece of composed music meant to exist and be experienced on its own versus a film score which is meant to be experienced while also taking in the narrative that it is meant to serve has been perhaps the most valuable thing I have learned and come to consider throughout this course. I feel like how I listen to film scoring from here on out will change and be more intentional as I grow and learn more.
This course has showed me all the ways in which sound and music have been utilized in conjunction with images in diverse media including films, video games, video art, cartoons, music videos, television and live performance.
This class has helped me appreciate films even more. I learned how the evolution of film greatly influenced the music industry. Each composer has their unique composing style which makes them stand out. Film scores aren't just mean to fill up a scene but it also highlights the actions of characters (ex: mickey-mousing). Film score can also prepare the viewer for the following scene and it can also guide them THROUGH the scene. Technique were also developed to change the sound of an instrument or to cast an effect of the sound.
Learned the history of music in film, as well as techniques. I feel like if I had to write a score now, I would implement a lot of what I learned from this class into the score.
During this class I have leaned a lot thus far. I am an Kenetic Imaging major with a concentration in Animation and video and I loved the new perspective that I can incorporate from the different styles used in early films and to this day. I have gained a lot of knowledge that helps me have a better understanding of how to portray certain moods with my audience and well as certain notes and keys to go for a certain theme that I want. I also really liked learned where it all started and how much of an amazing person John Williams and how he has so many amazing work that I didn't even know he created, it was very eye opening to connect the dots with different composers.
Overall, the course is pretty interactive, we do very practical and useful assignments that allow us to practice things we learn on our own and and i can say that I’ve learned a lot and would recommend it to others. Great course!
I've learned about the history of film music and how scoring essentially works - the different approaches composers take to scoring, and how they work with the director to figure the music out. It's really interesting to see how music can bring the emotion to a scene.
Filipe was a great professor! He expressed his passion and knowledge of music to us with every lecture.
This course really got me interested in film scores. I feel like I learned a sufficient amount of information to speak intelligently about film scores and film music.
​I've loved learning from Filipe's experience and the different techniques used to manipulate sound along side music, I enjoyed the assignments that allowed us to show some of our own ideas and preferences for different scores and films.
I really enjoyed the foley art project we had to do, it took more interaction and practice to do than my projects in most other classes. It also gave us a lot of freedom to be creative which I think is important.
The foley assignment was by far the best. Learning about the different scorers and their styles has been my favorite part of this course.
​I enjoyed the "classic film with a modern score" assignment because it invited us to experiment and see how scores can change how you view a film.
Coming from someone with little knowledge about music, Professor Leitão has taught me a vast amount about it. He makes the class fun and interactive, which is important being that it is almost three hours long.
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