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Arts & Entertainment

Life of a Composer: Part 2

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 9:26 min

Hans continues his discussion on an artist's life, telling you why he was inspired to pursue the life of a composer in the first place.

Hans Zimmer
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The thing with all of us musicians are being taught, as are all artists are being taught, is find your voice. All right? I remember reading Keith Jarrett talking about this, going everybody was telling him to find his voice. And he's going, I got my voice. I was born with my musical voice. And he was much more interested in what he can use it for, you know? So I don't think I was born with it. But through my cultural influences, where I'm from, what I listened to as a kid, just the way I learned an accent, I have an accent. I have a voice. And when I want to do the blues in "Thelma and Louise," I can do the blues, and it's still my voice. And if stick with Ridley, if I want to go into faux Roman music in "Gladiator," or faux Wagnerian music, it still sounds like me. So rather than trying to find your voice, just acknowledge that it's there, and just listen to it. It's like, recognize it. I remember having some weird fight, undoubtedly about scheduling, which is where things usually get unstuck with me, with Gore Verbinski. And my music editor, Melissa, coming in afterwards, and she's going, oh Gore's really pissed off. And he said he'd fire your sorry ass, except for when you sit down and you play those moody chords. And so, he's-- [PLAYS MOODY CHORDS] You know? Just don't fire me, because I'll play some moody chords for you that might-- [PLAYS MOODY CHORDS] Now I don't play virtuosic, but I have an aesthetic, and I have a feel, and you know-- [PLAYS MOODY CHORD] When my fingers land on the piano, it's different than when somebody else's fingers land on the piano. I don't know if I believe in talent. People keep saying to me oh, he's really talented, or this guy is really talented, or this woman is just an amazing talent. And then when I investigate a little bit further, it turns out it's just somebody who works really, really hard, and really dedicated, and makes their life about something we are passionate about. And at the same time, just being passionate about something doesn't mean you're any good at it. You see it all the time, that you think you think somebody is a talent, and they do something really remarkable. And you go, and what's the next thing you're going to do? And that's sort of nothing. That happens time and time again, where people can create one great thing and then it stops. And the whole point is it's not maybe so much about talent, but it's about what's the next thing? The first thing, yeah, of course you're going to write the greatest album. Because as a teenager, when you join a band, your first 17 years of experience is all going to get packed into that first song. And yeah, there should be enough material there to make something great. Or the first movie you make. Of course it's going to be great, because there's all that. But it's the second movie which is tricky, and the third movie which is tricky. And I think that's wh...

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'm going to write some music now... and don't be concerned about it, I'll share it with you!

I am so inspired - this is the best thing I've bought since I started making music (Masterclass). Thank you <3

I would’ve liked to see Hans be more hands on with some of the lessons but his information was very informative.

Interesting class. I am glad that he chose to share this part of his life with us. Thank you.


Antonia T.

Talent = passion, love, obsession, and work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work.

Irina L.

Absolutely loved it! Thank you Hans Zimmer, you had given me wisdom and knowledge to last a lifetime, and not only in my music career ! Every sentence could be a quote. Some of my favourites': "If you don't give up, ideas start coming!" "You can't not do it!" "There is no plan B" name but a few. He is a true master of his craft and a rebel, but has humility and a great respect for his fellow musicians! Brilliant thank you so much.

A fellow student

I have been 'on the fence' about this entire Master Class. At first, I thought it was the instructor but, while working through this course I have discovered something. I am just not at the same point in my life as Hans Zimmer. Not that I ever thought I was as skilled or experienced etc. I am just not at the point in my 'musical life line' where I can relate to Mr. Zimmer. Please don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the course but, (In my opinion) I can't relate on his level. This is not a bad thing. Just means I probably need to work harder and find my own voice when it comes to composition. The class was not a 'failure'. I just failed to understand what I would take away from the class.

A fellow student

Loved the part where he plays the piano and says "don't fire me because I'll play those moody chords. Very funny stuff.


The act of creativity is in being, and the art of creativity is expression. To have your creative being and expression touch someone else in the universe through art, music, sound, storytelling, film, and writing is worth the pain of becoming. The just of this MasterClass is, become who you are, do what you do as a craft. Don't be afraid of failure, experimentation, rules, critics, or success; embrace it all, and become you. Great lesson. What do you want to become from here?

Dr. Monnie Chan

I believe in following our inner voice and just do it. Sometimes it is right, but sometimes we may be confused and should pay for it. Being a composer, to follow one's instinct is very common. But how can we discriminate if it is correct or, such as, "Hand on, it works not now but may be 10 years later. But still I have to do it, just write it down .." I think you all know what I mean. Looking forward to your intelligent and impact ideas.

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?

Kenneth S.

Don't fire me because I'll play those chords... and when I play those chords it's different than when someone else plays those chords... that's really the substance of what you do as a composer and musician. Add to that, that everybody tells you that you can't do it.... but at the end of the day, it's about are you wasting your life or not wasting your life.... it sounds life a nervous commitment to nothing else, but Hans really nails it about the all consuming focus to creating music for a score and telling the story. When you look it it from the context of what Hans is describing and you read Trevor Horn's biography or Wikipedia, you really get the picture of what that No Plan B means.

Kori C.

I am a composer and I do release my own music. Hans, I totally get you when you say find your voice. I've found mine, and your class has given me more fire, more drive to do what I have always wanted to do. Thank you.

Natalie F.

He's always been my favorite that's for sure. :) Thanks so much Hans for making this learning journey so worth it. I have learned the most from you and even more importantly become the most inspired from you. Thank you.