From Hans Zimmer's MasterClass

Character Theme: Batman

What makes Batman's theme in The Dark Knight Trilogy so recognizable? Learn how he developed the theme by thinking about the story and character.

Topics include: Creating Batman Theme

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What makes Batman's theme in The Dark Knight Trilogy so recognizable? Learn how he developed the theme by thinking about the story and character.

Topics include: Creating Batman Theme

Hans Zimmer

Teaches Film Scoring

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Part of the problem is when you use something as simplistic as a two-note device you don't quite believe in it. You think you're supposed to do more, you're supposed to write a big, heroic theme. But everything we tried in there always led us back to this. And so that's when we finally figured out, yes, those two notes will work. I mean, we had all sorts of other things playing over this scene. This is when we found our movie. I think it very much defined not just the style of this movie, but it defined the style of how we moved forward. Had it not been for the scene, the Joker's stuff would never have been done that way. As we learned, we can get away with the barest minimum of harmonic and tune. We didn't need a tune to go and play this. [MUSIC - HANS ZIMMER AND JAMES NEWTON HOWARD, "LASIURUS"] I had written a more heroic and more developed Batman theme, and a more, to me, obvious one. And Chris actually really liked it, and he kept saying, can't we use that tune, can't we put that tune in, somewhere. And I kept saying to him, I don't think the character is ready for that tune, in a funny way. And I was hoping that maybe he'll never be ready for the obvious heroic tune. And Chris kept coming back to this, and finally I said to him, it's just not in his eyes. And it was just was just that communication, figuring out how to-- I had a feeling about something, my director had a feeling about something, and it wasn't like he acquiesced, it was just he saw what I was going for, and I just couldn't figure it out in words. But I think, in the long run, it was worth both of our while that we kept coming back to that conversation. How much had the character developed, and how much had he not developed. [MUSIC - HANS ZIMMER AND JAMES NEWTON HOWARD, "VESPERTILIO"] The French horns for Batman is four French horns on the right, four French horns on the left, and they're up in a gallery, up way above the orchestra, in this church. So that's a whole bunch of microphones, because part of what you want is I want the geography of where they are. So they have to be low microphones and they have to be high microphones that catch some of this. Then you have the orchestra, which is basically playing tunes, long notes, whatever they're playing. But not rhythmic parts, because the rhythmic parts I wanted to have really, really, really super precise. So all that [OSTINATO PATTERN] These ostinato patterns, they were all done separately, which seemed like a really good idea at the time. It was painful. And I thought, hey, wouldn't it be interesting to have something that was above the orchestra, so that rather than just doing 3-D, not just do surround like this, but truly try to impose some idea of height into this thing. You know, at least have a go at it. Sometimes it doesn't actually matter if the audience really hears it, but it just helps me to think through the architecture of what I'm ...

Tell a story with music

Hans Zimmer didn’t see a film until he was 12 years old. Since then, he’s scored over 150 films, including Inception, The Lion King, and The Dark Knight. In his MasterClass, the self-taught Academy Award-winner teaches how he creates sounds from nothing, composes compelling character themes, and scores a movie before ever seeing it. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to start film scoring.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I am eager to continue learning from genius like Mr. Zimmer!

Relentless persistence is the story I learned from Hans!

This is the first Masterclass I've completed right through to the end. I just can't get enough of Hans Zimmer! His mastery of his craft is so inspiring (even to craftspeople of completely different trades - eg., a woodworker!).

Great insight into the composer's role in achieving the creative vision of the director. The creative process / film scoring occurs within the boundaries delineated by the story, which is ultimately what the composer helps paint.

Comments

Olatide O.

I always noticed how the theme song for The Dark Knight series Batman is simpler than other Batman themes, and wondered why it was literally two notes. I thought it was because it was meant to be less corny than the other themes and invoke the feeling of a more realistic Batman.

Juliana A.

This lesson and the use of two notes in Batman's theme. Brilliant. Makes the entire annual fee worth it.

Obaji A.

Hans Zimmer has done fantastically well to give personality to the musical notes in Batman's theme and so evokes an irregular form of creativity... a word like 'nagging' is one of the technique Zimmer uses to drive his clear lecture home.

A fellow student

I can’t stop thinking about the use of the same 2 notes over and over to symbolize his being stuck . Both in the past and in less than a hero in his eyes . But the choice of those particular notes evoke such sadness and acceptance of his lonely mission. Powerful stuff music

Rudi W.

Great music i love the composing the Brass development character Batman movie

Massimo A.

Great lesson, but I just wish he would've played his original, "more developed" Batman theme for us for comparison :)

grover D.

Neil Gaiman is capable of reaching deeper. Hans is dabbling at it. Or maybe he's just not comfortable in front of the camera.

A fellow student

Looking at this as a writer, rather than a musician, I was intrigued with his 2-note character, which meant so much more to me after watching this presentation. If I can achieve my character development as effectively as this, my readers will be so much fulfilled than they have been. Music opens a very different field to this aspect of story-telling. I love it.

Steve K.

I'm fascinated by the considerations that went into composing this music. He went beyond inventing sound. He created an emotional sensation.

A fellow student

Hans describes but he fails to explain. He makes a point by telling about something interesting, yet when he amplifies the point he does not dig deeper with the context. So obvious and unsurprising kind of content is offered but there no excitement or illumination as he progresses. At 7:59 when he uses the computer he does more of what’s needed. Bottom line - the composer [here a teacher] needed a director.