Hans Zimmer’s film scoring masterclass, provides a fascinating insight into a little-understood art form. Whether you are film buff, a music fan, a composer or musician you are sure to enjoy this course.
What I got out of Hans Zimmer’s film scoring masterclass
I am not much of a musician and am definitely not a composer. So, when a friend of mine suggested that I take Hans Zimmer’s composing masterclass I almost dismissed the idea. But, he was a good friend who was very enthusiastic and persuasive. So, I humored him and took the course.
As it turns out I really enjoyed it and, surprisingly, I was able to follow much of it and learned a thing or two. Someone who is a musician or composer is sure to get a lot out of this interesting masterclass.
Who is Hans Zimmer?
Before I dive into what the course is all about, I should first explain who Hans Zimmer is. I am doing this because even when we notice and enjoy a film’s score we rarely take the time to find out who composed it.
Hans Zimmer is the man behind the film scores of a long list of blockbusters. Including, Gladiator, Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean, Interstellar and many more.
The man is something of a genius. He was one of the first film score composers to successful integrate electronic music with orchestral arrangements.
At the time of writing this review, he had composed the score for 150+ movies and won numerous awards. Including, an Academy Award, 2 Golden Globes, several BRIT awards, and a Grammy. He also writes for video games.
You do not have to be a musician to take this course
Before I dip into the content of the course, I need to reiterate the fact that you do not have to be a musician or composer to take it. If you don’t believe me this is what Hans says on the subject:
Most of the advances that I have seen happen in musical technology is from people who love music, but aren’t musicians themselves.Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring Masterclass
The two main elements of the course
There are 31 videos in this masterclass, which makes it one of the longest courses on the masterclass.com platform. Some of the videos are 30+ mins long. So, if I were to go through them one by one and tell you a little about what you will learn from each one, you would be asleep before I had finished.
So, instead, I am going to divide up the content up into sections. There are two main types of lessons in this film score masterclass. They are:
- People and organizational (theoretical) skills -For example, working with other musicians, the director and navigating the industry to secure work.
- Technical skills – For example, putting together the score and recording it.
Below, I look at these two skill sets in turn and tell you a bit more about what you can expect to learn about each of them.
Theoretical skills for film score composers
Let’s start with the theoretical, or softer skills that are not directly related to writing up and producing the score. These include the following:
- How to create a music theme for a scene or movie
- Coming up with the story your music will tell
- Learning to work with directors
- Working with other musicians
- How to use audience feedback
- How to get the best out of an orchestra
- Taking feedback from the creative team and making revisions
- How to create a theme for each of your characters The Joker, Batman, Jack Sparrow and more are used as excellent examples
- Learning by listening
- An insight into the life of a composer
How to create a musical theme for each charachter
Having taken several of the directing masterclasses, I found the 3 videos on working with directors to be very interesting. Particularly, because it is clear that the directors themselves view the film score to be of vital importance.
If you can, I recommend that you buy the all-access pass as I did. Taking the various filmmaking, acting and writing courses have transformed the way I watch movies. I’ve found myself re-watching some of my favorites, seeing them afresh and enjoying them even more than I did the first time.
Out of all of Hans’ practical skills videos, it was the one on developing a soundscape for each character that I enjoyed the most. It was fascinating.
I started by going through the initial character video, then followed up by watching the 3 character theme videos. In those, Hans demonstrates many of the points he made in the initial video. If you have not watched any of the Batman or Pirates of the Caribean movies, you might want to do so before going through these videos. They will make much more sense if you do that.
When you hear it, you know that it’s Batman.Hans Zimmer Masterclass
Learning how Hans sneaks up on the character, as he puts it, is interesting. His approach is not at all what you would expect. For example, he digs far deeper than what is in the script. He looks at the back story. If there is not one, as such, he makes one up. His telling of how he came up with the music for James Hunt when he scored Rush demonstrates this process perfectly.
I promise you if you have seen any of the films he discusses, you will be enthralled. In fact, if you are not a composer or musician you might want to jump forward to this part of the course. You will enjoy it far more than some of the technical videos. Later, you can go back over the rest of the course, armed with a better understanding of the end result. This will enhance your understanding of the technical side of film scoring.
Surpringly, Hans nearly said no to The Lion King. Partly, because he did not want to write for fuzzy animals or animated charachter. Yet, it is probably his best work.
You will see why, when you watch the video. It is actually very touching. Hans has a lovely personable way about him. He is open, funny, reflective and a very good teacher.
Technical skills every composer needs to master
If you want to dive in and actually score your own videos, family movies or get into the film scoring industry, this is what you can expect to learn from Hans Zimmer:
- How to develop sound palettes
- Working with synthesizers
- The art of scoring to pictures
- How to score under dialogue
- The role of tempo in film score creation
- How to create and use a music diary
- Writing tips – how to work efficiently
- How to create your own style
Hans Zimmer working with synthesizers
I was surprised to learn that Hans was not a formally trained musician. As a child, he had a few piano lessons. Later, he joined a band. That is it, the full extent of his musical experience. Despite this, he went on to create some of the most memorable music on the planet.
One of the tools he used to get him there is the synthesizer. So, it is not surprising to see him teaching his students how to use one.
If you do not have a musical background this is the “instrument” for you. However, you are not going to learn everything you need to know from this single course. But, you certainly gain insight into Hans’ creative process, when using a synthesizer.
I was surprised to learn that parts of the Batman score are composed using just two notes. It is remarkable how much the synthesizer enables you to express, by manipulating those notes.
If I were to download one of the many synthesizer programs that are available, I suspect I would find myself burning the midnight oil rather a lot. Hans uses Cubase. But, you don’t have to. His advice is to choose a program you find easy to use or are already familiar with.
If its a laptop you can make music on it.Hans Zimmer Teaches Composing for Films and TV
I love the way Hans makes everything seem so accessible. He is not at all elitiest. Hans genuinely believes that anyone who wants to get involved in composing can do so.
The teaching techniques Hans Zimmer uses
I really liked the fact that Hans delivers his content in a range of different formats. This is good practice for a teacher. It helps students to glean more information from the courses
Some of us need examples to cement what we have just learned. I
The workbook is great for those of us who like to refer back to the written word when we learn. Most of the important points have been summarized in the text.
It also contains assignments, many of which you are asked to load into the hub when you have completed them. If you want to know more about the hub and masterclass community and how you can use it to improve your learning experience, just click here. When you do, you will be taken to my full Masterclass.com review.
I would also suggest that you take the time to go to Spotify and YouTube to listen to some of Hans’ work. Small sections of the score are included in some of the videos, which is very helpful. But, if you are struggling a bit like I was when he was talking about developing Batman’s character listening to more of the relevant score will really help.
Who is Hans Zimmer’s composing masterclass for
It is hard to nail down who Hans had in mind when he created this course. When I settled down to watch it, I was expecting to literally learn how to create a film score. There is plenty of content that goes towards achieving that goal. But, primarily, this course is about finding inspiration, building your ideas out and turning them into reality. It is not just a technical course.
However, I am not saying that a musician or composer would not learn a lot from this course. The friend who recommended it to me is an accomplished musician who produces his own music. He was clearly impressed by the course.
If you are already composing, this is 100% the course for you. It will enable you to take your skills to the next level and start to compose scores for film, TV,
The other thing to bear in mind is that Hans is very active in the office hours section where you can upload short questions in the form of a video. He has answered those questions and there is an enthusiastic community of people replying to the comments under the videos and in the forum.
So, I think if you are a musician or composer you will enjoy gaining an insight into Hans’ creative process. If you are
Having taken his course, I took a lot more notice of the music. I would say that, as a result, I enjoyed the film even more than I did the first time around. It was certainly more interesting.
So, if you are looking for an unusual gift for a film buff, this masterclass could be exactly what you are looking for. It only costs $90, and the course can be watched again and again.
But, if you want to give someone a really special present, I recommend buying the all-access pass. It only costs $180, yet, you get access to all of the courses on the platform.
At the time of writing this, there were over 60 masterclasses available. Including this one, 15 of them are film and TV related. So, there is plenty for a film fan to enjoy. A masterclass all-access pass makes a fantastic gift for pretty much everyone.