Music & Entertainment

Creating with Synths

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 21:21 min

Hans is known for his use of synths. Hans discusses how he uses synths, as he creates a song from his starter patch for us.

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Hans Zimmer
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The opportunity, and these devices exist to go and try and do truly wacky things. And truly wacky things-- I think that's actually unfair. But it's a tool. It's a tool just like a violin is a tool. Or if you want to get more basic, I think the thing that most kids at one point or the other get to play with is a Fender Stratocaster. Everybody's got one. Everybody knows somebody who's got one. And here's the amazing thing about the Fender Strat-- it's just a plank of wood with some strings attached to it. But it's such a great design that Stevie Ray Vaughan will sound completely different from Jeff Beck will sound completely different from Eric Clapton. And it amplifies-- it somehow amplifies the DNA of the human being, the musicality of the human being. And that's what you want the stuff to do. You don't want it to be in the way. You want it to become expressive. And you just need to break through the myth, the myth of the elitism that-- unless it's a where you can't play music on it, you know? I'm saying if it's a laptop, you can make music on it. And for instance, I'm surrounded by synthesizers, but if it really comes down to it, I use very few. And I just try to get really, really, really good at them. Because the wealth of possibilities is there, if you learn how to use it. And if you approach it as a musician, then learning is a very-- the word learning isn't so difficult. Because musicians play. So if you're playful about the thing, it actually becomes fun to experiment. And it takes you on journeys, and it takes you places you never thought you would get to. And once you know it pretty well, you can direct where the journey goes. And I think that's important. Don't let the machine control you. You have to be able to control the machine. So all these computer programs-- it doesn't matter if it's Cubase, or Logic, or Pro Tools, or Ableton Live. The best one is the one you know. There's no favoritism. I work on Cubase because I've always worked on Cubase. And the other advantage I have that everybody has is, talk to the guys who built this thing. Talk to them and tell them how your workflow is. And very often, you get them to change it, or you get them to improve it. I remember sitting there with the Cubase guys years ago and coming up with this very elite statement which was something like, "Well, you should talk to me. I'm a professional composer." And they just went, "Bullshit! You professional composers, you just have this paradigm of how you work. You always think the same way." The interesting ideas come from some kid in a garage in the Bronx who doesn't play keyboards. And he's going to come up with-- he doesn't think in the fixed metaphor of the keyboard in the classical way. He's going to come up with a tool and an invention that is revolutionary. And, you know, I had t...


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.

Hans is very humble. But it is a form of alchemy, distilling story from sound.

I have learned the whole new way to write music

Very useful, intuitive, interesting and humorous

This Masterclass is genuine in terms of the feelings and stories evoked by film music. Carefully explained by one of the greatest prolific creators of score music soundtracks for films. Music its about communication, to express beyond words the poetry of the air, talk about was something beautiful we can not describe it. Music means something that can not express in words about beauty of life.


Comments

Devin M.

"It doesn't help that you people have stolen my sustain pedal!" Zimmer's attitude is by far the best. I love how he shows us how to move around in Zebra in a brief preview. Adjusting the release and attack dials and adding just 4 filters on top of each other makes a huge difference. I like the 16th note and dotted 8th note delays he adds to the blank patch. It gives a simple synth color and opens us up to the idea that anything could be made into something.

Lisa L.

Can someone explain exactly what Hans does in the Zebra synth to create that sound? A step by step would be nice so I can try to remake it...

Tulio S.

@Masterclass 1:27 "[...] unless it's a Steinway you can't play music on it [...]" Steinway, the top piano brand.

Jonathan

Very intriguing and interesting! Let's explore those sounds. I just bought the Expressive E "Touché" to do just that. Incredible product wich is similar to what Hans use on his left hand to tweek the sounds. A new world of sounds is accessible now!

Ethan F.

I understand better the way he then composed the score for Blade Runner 2049. Using expressions, creating his own sounds and waddling everything around.

André V.

Loving this lesson. I have a classical education background, so never was interested in "synth stuff", but now being 56 years old... I have finally overcome this bias, especially because I realise more and more that you cannot work as film/TV etc composer when only working with the traditional orchestra (style and budget wise). I don't have Zebra (neither the budget to buy it right now), but am sure Cubase 10 must have some kind of synth build in. Which one would that be? I also recently started using Cubase after having used Logic from pretty much when it came out, so I am not familiar yet with everything Cubase has to offer. Really loving this masterclass and have watched the lessons already many many times.

Joe B.

I bought Zebra 2 because of this... I absolutely love it. Hans's whole series was worth it just for this lesson for me, great stuff.

Graeme R.

This is so magical. What if Gordon Ramsay put a plate on the table and filled it with some incredibly delicious foods, none of which had ever been tasted or even imagined before?

Rudy B.

Hans is correct about the "Kid in a garage in NY" concept. Synths can be found in many types and price points. Starting out as a kid in my own garage (of sorts) in 2019, if find that IOS synth Apps on my iPad really take the strain off my wallet for learning to build new sounds. I carry it with me on the bus, train or plane and experiment to my hearts content. Then I can make a better informed decision when selecting VST synths for my large Studio Rig. Having a mobile Rig also complements my production timeline.

Dean B.

Probably the best synth vst would be serum, you can create your own wave tables and create presets you never thought you could do, try it