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.

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


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

Really enjoyed Hans Zimmers masterclass. He gave a great insight into not the mechanics of film music but what makes great art. What I enjoyed in particular was that you weren't learning about 'how to' it was about his style and what makes him and how YOU can make YOU. His philosophies are what I really enjoyed learning about. Excellent stuff.

I've started to create something everyday. I got my music education from a particular teacher (one of the best in the city I live), and I've always postponed my creation stage. I feel that my lack of academic knowledge is the first block in my path. But listening to Hans and his experience I feel more confident. I feel that I can achieve my goal of being abel to express emotion through sound.

I'm a huge fan of Hans, his music, and his passion. I truly enjoyed this class. Thank You Hans.

I have only just gone through the videos, and plan to go through them again. Then I'll look into the assignments..



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

A fellow student

I like how the editors of the subtitles putted [inaudible] when he said Steinway 😂

carlos R.

A brilliant lesson from Hanz, it's amazing how you can make a sound from just messing with LFO and envelopes and make other sounds, truly has opened my eyes to what you can do more with making sounds from scratch, this will be another into the books when doing my own composing.

Phil A.

There are posts on here asking about the synth Hans plays here, which is a Dark Zebra, by U-He, which was a limited edition of Zebra 2. This soft synth is an absolute beast and can get very heady, If you are not that expert at synth programming, but looking for similar sounds, try Zebra CM, which is a somewhat paired down version. There's also Zebralette, both of which are free (along with 5 other synths by U-He), and both have almost the same engine, thus sound, as Zebra 2. Hope that doesn't sound like a plug. I have nothing to do with this company. I just happen to own Dark Zebra, and like it a lot. What I would tell anyone who's not an expert at synths would be to pick one decent synth, and master it, no matter who the manufacturer or developer is. Don't get caught up in the latest synth, or turn into a collector.