From Hans Zimmer's MasterClass

Creating with Synths

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.

Topics include: Building Sounds • Hans's Starter Patch • Expression


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.

Topics include: Building Sounds • Hans's Starter Patch • Expression

Hans Zimmer

Teaches Film Scoring

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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 [INAUDIBLE] 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.

Hans, is a genius on film scoring thank you for the knowledge

Telling me I'm on the right track and how to improve my composition( Stick to the story, know the character and talk with director and listen other stuff)

It has helped me to approach music and composing in new ways. It has also inspired me to do my first complete score for one project.

As Hans said, you made me commit to create at least one note a day. At least for a year, hopefully for a lifetime. You are going to hear from you folks :D


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.

René N.

I never had an oportunity for a real orchestra, so I have to use synths all the time :/

Nattamon M.

A great lesson indeed! I have downloaded Cubase and was going to work on the assignments of this class. But, unfortunately, it turns out that I cannot hear any sound I make with the program ; ; I searched for the solutions on websites but still do not know what I can do. I guess I may have to download Cubase again... Thank you for reading, though! And if you have any suggestions, I would really appreciate them :)

Kenneth S.

I love this lesson, especially the bits about expression, and using that to create something interesting, that's really key. After all, that's what makes a song come alive... he shows a very good example with the French Horns... that resonates with me.

Tom O.

Guys, this might sound like a dumb question, but when Hans is riding the fader while playing the Batman 'two note' on the keyboard, is that fader affecting velocity as well? As in hypothetical 'air flow' of the brass? Or just the volume? It sounds like the rasp grows at the top, and then reduces to a 'yawn' at the bottom, which would suggest velocity, but I didn't know you could assign that to a fader / wheel.


I'm just starting to figure synths out, up until now I've written mainly for orchestral instruments. Is it possible to make new sounds with other software programs like Pro Tools or Ableton Live?