Penka Kouneva


Penka Kouneva Studios proudly presents

designed for early-career and aspiring media composers, orchestrators, composer assistants, interns, recent graduates, and all interested.

Saturday, MARCH 4 '17, 2-6 PM

Saturday, March 11 '17, 2-5 PM 

both masterclasses will be conducted in Los Angeles:
at the Courtyard-Marriott (Brentwood Conference Room), 
15433 Ventura Blvd (at Hwy 405), Sherman Oaks, CA 91403


The two Master Classes will be professionally filmed and made available online for purchase via the Wu Si Online Store.

Estimated date of release: TBA

Full Description of the Classes

Saturday, MARCH 4, 2-6 PM

Hours 1 and 2:

  • Why is it vital to write unique, distinctive music for film, TV and games

  • How to get scoring jobs in film and games 
  • How to stay relevant to your contacts and grow your client base 
  • How to get top industry professionals to actually listen to your demo
  • The self-teaching composer: methodology of reading orchestral scores 
  • The self-teaching composer: methodology of film score analysis (harmony, form, thematic development, emotional arc, arrangement, style, aesthetics)
  • "In betweeb jobs" - composing self-designed assignments, and expanding one's skill set
  • How to compose masterful and imaginative music when bound by a temp score and "temp love"
  • Q and A

Hours 3 and 4:

DEMO CRITIQUE of 24 curated tracks submitted by the attendees
All are invited to submit one track only, however my team and I will select and curate 24 tracks that lend themselves to most substantial learning and discussion for the entire class. 

The tracks (mp3s) will be played anonymously (by my assistant) to ensure unbiased critique / discussion. I will offer constructive suggestions and honest feedback. You will understand how directors, producers, reviewers, music supervisors, other composers “hear” and perceive your demo. During my 18 years in Hollywood I have heard over 5000 demo CDs by aspiring and working composers and have observed firsthand how directors and producers listen and respond to composers’ pitches. I've also been married to a music editor for 14 years who listens to one soundtrack every morning (that's about 5100 film and game soundtacks).

PRE-REQUISITE: Reading Penka's Six Blogs on Cultivating a Career published online by Designing Music Now (free content). Upon registration, you will receive the links for reading.


If you like to submit a demo for consideration: By submitting a demo, you agree that your composition will be presented and discussed publicly, although your name will not be mentioned. Email one track (mp3) file, with duration between 1:00 and 1:40to penkakouneva[at] with the subject: MASTER CLASS DEMO CRITIQUE. 

Please remove paddy intros, vamps, etc. The focus of the critique will be on how memorable is your theme and "sound" are, thematic development, form, production, arrangement, and cinematic / emotional arc.

The Demo Critique is limited to 24 tracks only. Please submit only mp3. No videos.

Intended audience:

Early-career and aspiring media composers, orchestrators, composer assistants, interns, recent graduates, and all others interested.

Saturday, March 11 '17, 2-5 PM 

This 3-hour Master Class will examine the workflow, challenges, and best practices of a media orchestrator in Hollywood. It will demonstrate the skill set required for transcribing MIDI mock-ups into a Finale or Sibelius score, be it for 5 instruments or 125. 

We will examine:  

  • Workflow & procedures for error-free MIDI transcription and flawless scores from MIDI 

  • Rethinking the MIDI for live ensemble 

  • Orchestration techniques (balance, voicing, mass, texture)

  • The difference in orchestration for film, TV, games, trailers

Intended Audience: 

early- and mid-career composer assistants, orchestrators, media composers. A zipped Folder of MIDI files, scores, list of textbooks, methodologies for score analysis, blogs, and study materials will be given to all attendees.

PREREQUISITE: Some experience with transcribing MIDI sequences into a professional score for live musicians.

Once again, kindly refer to COST AND REGISTRATION section above to find out how to purchase your tickets for the live masterclass

Penka Kouneva's Bio

Penka Kouneva (composer: Prince of Persia, Transformers games with Steve Jablonsky) is a Sundance Composer Fellow and winner of the 2015 Game Audio Network Guild's Recognition Award.  She scored 20 indie features, including the breakout features of Chloe Moretz and Josh Duhamel. She has released two orchestral albums receiving 5-star national press (The Woman Astronaut, on Varese Sarabande, and A Warrior's Odyssey, on Sumthing Else Music). Her latest scoring job is Heroes and Legends (Astronaut Hall of Fame) at the Kennedy Space Center. She is known in Hollywood as an "exquisite talent," an industry leader, and one of the hardest working professionals. 

During the last decade while raising her family, Penka became a top studio orchestrator for films (Transformers, Matrix, Pirates 3; Lead Orchestrator on Ninja Turtles 2, Elysium, Ender's Game, Need for Speed) and biggest games (Gears of War 2, 3, Sony's Bloodborne, all Blizzard games - Overwatch, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III; Sims, Dragon Age 2.  As an extraordinary mentor and lead orchestrator Penka has been instrumental in nurturing the careers of many rising talents who have continued to work on studio films, top TV shows, games and trailers. 

Born and raised in Bulgaria, Penka was classically trained and received the first-ever Ph.D. in composition from Duke University. In 1999, Penka arrived in Hollywood with one computer, one contact and small savings. In the following decade, she made history as the first woman lead orchestrator on studio blockbusters since Shirley Walker . Penka is passionate about artist growth as she believes that development of one's voice and mastery (along with cultivating relationships), is the prerequisite for success in today's overcrowded media scoring business.

all materials © 2017 by Penka Kouneva Studios