Hans Zimmer:
The Language of Film

Audiohead Interviews Tech Tips Events Goods and Gear Featured Music

Going By Instinct
Hans on the keys “So we built this little place in Santa Monica in a similar fashion to the way I was working — in a room full of technology,” says Zimmer.

“I don’t have any background, but I now instinctively understand how film works. And I don’t think you can teach it. One just has to do it,” he explains.

“The first few movies I worked on, inevitably everything I did was thrown out. And then less would be thrown out, and then it got better,” reflects Zimmer. “I don’t know how I got better understanding of the language of film. It wasn’t anything anybody could teach me. You just instinctively get control over such a beast and learn how to speak its language.”

People Show Up
Zimmer insists that he has no idea how people get into the Media Ventures composing collective, which resides within the brick walls of several warehouse-like buildings in Santa Monica. “They just show up,” he says, joking.

“While they learned to do music, we learned how to stop our computers from crashing, and didn’t spend enough time doing music,” explains Zimmer.

“I’m democratically untidy about the whole thing,” he smiles. “If I have a good day and someone turns up and I think what they do is interesting — then, ‘Great, you’ve got a job!’

“However, there is less talent out there than I thought there was. I thought there were millions of people who were absolutely gorgeously brilliant and just were never listened to,” says Zimmer.

“But in my own subjective way of listening to thousands of demos, I came back more with the impression that there isn’t really that much talent out there,” he says. “So, the ones who really must write music, the ones who are so driven by their talent — they usually rise to the top of their level.”

Developing Craftsmanship
“There aren’t that many film composers around. But there are a lot of people who think they could be film composers. I think that what is lacking in film scoring these days is that craftsmanship that Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams have,” says Zimmer.

“While they really learned to do music, we really learned how to stop our computers from crashing, and didn’t spend enough time doing music. All we can really hope for is that someone really brilliant turns up with brilliant ideas, and great craftsmanship and originality,” he adds.

Real Musicians
Although he uses samples when he’s writing, Zimmer always has the final parts played out by real musicians in an orchestra. “For my sample library, I went to London and recorded my own samples with the best players in every orchestra, ” he says. “But I made an agreement with them that I would never use the samples without using real musicians. And so, it helps the cause of real acoustic musicians playing.

“The film industry is the last bastion on earth that still has the budgets for orchestral players. These musicians have spent all their lives training and perfecting their art, and they should be compensated,” insists Zimmer.

“Doctors and lawyers say that they spend a long time going to school — musicians start when they are three or four years old,” he says. “Orchestral music is a tradition that shouldn’t go out the window or be replaced by computers for purely economic reasons.”

The Different Hues of Zimmer
Zimmer plans to score his next three movies from this home studio — it is on the beach, after all. But he insists, “I don’t really care where I work. That’s the other advantage of computers: you can just pack it all up in the PowerBook.”

When it comes to doing music, “I’m all over the place as far as what I like to do,” says the composer. “I have to be able to have a point of view and I have to have a voice. I have to be able to say something through the music. Otherwise it’s not worth doing.”

Previous page: Learning the Craft of Sound

Hans Zimmer

1. Speaking Through Music
2. Learning the Craft of Sound
3. The Language of Film

Composer’s Toolkit
(Part 3 of 3)

iPod Keeps Score
Zimmer uses his iPod for scoring. “I have an iPod and it’s really useful to have all of the scores there as a reference library,” he says. “On ‘Black Hawk Down,’ we recorded so much stuff and we were working so fast that it became unwieldy to catalog things.

“We’d find something that worked and we’d say, ‘Well, where’s that tune?’ and I’d say, ‘Let’s just write another one’ because it would be faster than going through all the files,” he adds. But now Zimmer keeps his entire library of songs chronicled on his iPod, which makes it easier.

Useful Links

Media Ventures

Power Mac G4
Clavia Nord Lead

Pro Tools
GRM Tools
Native Instruments

Audio Interfaces
MOTU 828

About Audiohead.netSyndicateOriginateContact

Got a suggestion? Send us your mojo and we’ll put it in our pipe.

© 2004-2006 - Audiohead.net - All Rights Reserved.