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Arts & Entertainment

Feedback & Revisions

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 9:39 min

Not every score is perfect on the first try. Learn how Hans asks for feedback on his scores and how he approaches rewrites when it's not quite working.

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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When I'm sitting next to a director and we're watching the piece of music up against the screen, and we're watching it together, he doesn't have to say anything to me, you know? I'm usually the first one to go, yes, I know, it's completely wrong. And I know what to do. And what was interesting, for instance, when I was working on Batman Begins in this collaboration between James Newton Howard, myself, and Chris Nolan-- because I was watching-- sort of slightly out-of-body experience, you know-- I was watching how tough it is on the director to actually go-- and he knows how hard you worked on it. And he doesn't-- you know, he doesn't want to go and be rude about it or whatever. But if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. And it's very hard to have to look somebody in the eye and go, I know you sweated bullets over this thing, but it's just not working for me. It's tough. And so when it was the three of us-- when it was James, Chris, and I-- if there was something that Chris didn't like about an approach, or if there was a better idea to be had, or whatever, it was a conversation. He didn't have to just look me straight in the eye. Because as I'm going, oh my god, what am I going to do, James was also really coming up with, you know, hey, what about if we do this and try this. So revisions are just about getting it to be better. And better isn't necessarily the quality of the music. But it's understanding what we are trying to say in this scene and just getting better at executing it. The first revision really happens as I write this musical diary, which is just my way of figuring myself into the story, into the material, into the director's brain, into the style we're going to be presenting this thing in. And it's really me learning the movie. So there is a revision process that goes on all the time. Even though I don't go backwards, as I move forwards, I am, you know, revising my aim. I mean I'm getting more precise about what it is-- you know, what the thing itself is-- that I'm trying to say. And music is indefensible in a funny way. I mean, one of the problems with music is it's indefensible. You cannot argue about music. You either like it or you don't. It either moves you or it doesn't. So sometimes, if it literally becomes-- doesn't do anything for me, great. OK, chuck it out. Start again. But usually, by the time I play something to a director, I know why those notes are there, just as he knows why that scene is there, or why that shot is there, or why the camera is at a certain angle, and why this is a night scene as opposed to some breakfast scene even though the light would've been better at 5 o'clock in the morning, et cetera. But we sort of intellectually can defend the thing. The only thing we can't do is-- I will never be able to talk you into liking a certain piece of music, and I will not ever attempt it. Because I just-- what's the point? W...

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.

I did enjoy it a lot. I would have liked maybe more walkthroughs of his compositions like he did with the Jack Sparrow theme on his original sheet music, but other than that it was great. Also can you ask Hans if he would adopt me and continue teaching me thank you!

It was really enjoyable watching him talk about his passion and there were certainly things told that never came to my mind.

Great ideas to ponder here. Inspiring "question and answer" technique to consider.

It would be nice if we got notifications when our comments got replies. Apart from that, it's great to connect with so many music minded people!


Antonia T.

"I go: 'is it shit, or is it not shit?' And if it's not shit we can play it" Hilarious!

Rachel R.

Accepting feedback from something you put your literal soul into is hard; it's tough but important to remember to not get "attached" to your music. Put that energy into it so it's good of course, but it's not personal if the director or someone else doesn't like. Direct communication is key!

Matt S.

If you "put all of your TLC" into a piece too quickly, and you're certain that it's one of your best, then it probably isn't your best and may get rejected right away. Ego will always get in the way if one relies on it. The best pieces of music are those that hold up over time.

Dr. Monnie Chan

Our maestro teacher Hans Zimmer live concert in Hong Kong is coming on 26th September 2019. Just 12 days to go. I am going and wonder if there are any classmates I can meet?

Kjell D.

"There is no arguing about music, either you like it or you don't" love how true this is.

Kayte B.

The more I watch, the more I relate, the more confidence I gain in being a true collaborator. How well spoken; what a great example you are to me! I am lucky to find you here as a teacher. Thank you.

Jessie Y.

This is really important, and it's essential. Everyone should be able to accept in getting feedbacks from the directors because they are also storytellers aside you.

Bev H.

Big lesson here. Learn to separate your work from yourself when accepting feedback. Our job as composers is to serve the project, not ourselves.

Alina D.

Re: Revisions and considering the expense of the orchestra ----Do you do a 'draft' using the computer, agree with the director and team that this is what everyone wants, and then proceed to the orchestra which is more expensive?

Kori C.

Yeah, you just can't drop a score and say, yup this is IT... yeah no. Revisions and discussion!