Arts & Entertainment, Music

Character Theme: Jack Sparrow

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 10:33 min

"Pirates were the rock-n'-rollers of the middle ages." Hans breaks down how he created Jack Sparrow's theme by finding the tone for the movie first.

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Topics include: Creating Jack Sparrow Theme


Some movies are entirely character-driven. And you know, I mean, if you say Sherlock Holmes, yeah, you know, it's pretty obvious it's about the character. If you say to me, Pirates, actually, "Jack Sparrow's Theme," I've forgotten about Jack Sparrow. You know, it was much more about-- [PLAYS "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN THEME"] It's, you know, oh, let's invent a lang-- you know, let's figure out a language of how we can describe the movie. And you know, in a funny way, I mean, it's like Gore gave me all the clues. it's, you know, pirates were the rock and rollers of the Middle Ages, or whatever. So it's just a boogie. You know, that's all it takes. You know, that tune. So every secondary tune other than Jack's came out of the-- [PLAYS "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN THEME"] But Jack's tune starts with that as well. So I thought, you know, if I have a family of tunes that all start with the same three notes, you know, that is a family, you know, that's the set design for this movie in a funny sort of way. So yes, the overall sound of the movie came first. What I tried to do is I tried to find the tone of the movie. I try to find the tone for the movie, more than anything else, and you know, build the set and then put the actors into it. So yeah, I mean, look, I-- some of the characters I don't remember. But the process is usually the same. It's I really try to figure out how that character resonates with me. And then it becomes a game. It becomes a game of-- it's no different than telling your best friend about somebody you met and the impression they left on you. And you're trying to describe a person to somebody else who has never met that person. [MUSIC - "JACK SPARROW"] Set sale in a general that way direction. Captain? Come on, snap to, and make sail. You know how this works. hoy, hoy, hey. Have you noticed lately the captain seems to be acting a bit strange-er. Setting sail without knowing his own heading. Something's got Jack vexed. And mark my words, what bodes ill for Jack Sparrow bodes ill for us all. You know, I just kept watching what Johnny was doing. And I kept watching what, you know, who he was. So I just sat down and, I mean, I didn't sort of quite bash it out, but it didn't take very long. There wasn't a lot of time. And I just tried to put all the-- I wasn't consciously thinking about it, but you know, I knew what I wanted to say. And I just tried to put it into the notes. And then, yeah, at one point, you know, I mean, look I'll play it-- [PLAYS "JACK SPARROW"] I'll probably get it wrong. And if I wasn't so lazy, I'd turn it around and play the harmony. Remember I said I'm not a performer? There was proof. I'm not a performer. So I actually wrote it down at one point and scribbled it down for Gore so he would understand what the thing was. So if you-- should we go into this by examples? Now I actually...

About the Instructor

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.

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Hans Zimmer

From collaborating to scoring, Hans Zimmer teaches you how to tell a story with music in 31 exclusive video lessons.

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