From Hans Zimmer's MasterClass

Music Diary: Sherlock Holmes

Hans creates music diaries to each film to help him along. Learn how and why he does it as he walks through his diary for Sherlock Holmes.

Topics include: Hans's Process • Music Diary


Hans creates music diaries to each film to help him along. Learn how and why he does it as he walks through his diary for Sherlock Holmes.

Topics include: Hans's Process • Music Diary

Hans Zimmer

Teaches Film Scoring

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This is my prison. This is the room I spend 98% of my life in. Because that's all I really do. I go home. I come here. I love writing music. So what have I got in front of me? It's my computer. And it makes all sorts of-- I think the novelty that people don't realize that a computer can play any type of instrument, I think that's sort of gone by now. So in front of me is my virtual orchestra basically, because that's how I work. So the way I work is after a lot of procrastination, I have to sit down, and eventually you have to start somewhere. And this usually means I have to put the glasses on, because I can't see the screen anymore. And after having a conversation with the director and sort of knowing where this film is going, I just start writing my ideas down in a sort of diary type fashion, where every day I just move forward in this piece. And it starts somewhere, and it's trying to find the theme or trying to find a vibe or trying to find a mood or something like this. But everyday I just add to it. I don't go back and revise things. Because sometimes, things that you discarded weeks earlier, you suddenly remember and go, hang on a second. It was a terrible idea at the time, but actually turns out it's quite cool. So the way that I work is I sort of know the movie pretty well. Or I know it as well as you can at this point where a movie doesn't really exist other than in the head of the director, scenes are being shot, et cetera. But I do need to go and start fishing around for some material. You come from a conversation with the director, and you're all enthusiastic, because it's all new possibilities, opportunities, great ideas, et cetera. And then you get into this room, and you sit in front of this, and it's all gone, and you just go, oh my god, I have no idea what to do. But you need the courage of starting somewhere. So the first marker says intro, because it needs to start somewhere. You know, and I'm pretty sure I remember what I did. I think the first thing I literally did was just put this line in because I thought-- [OMINOUS BASS AND PERCUSSION] I just knew that. I sort of heard it in my head. And the thing about this piece is it's not a piece. It literally is a diary. You can see how my ideas slowly sort of firm up. You know, and I was going, oh, OK, hang on a second. This would be cool if I did it on a clarinet, so the next marker is called clarinet. [CLARINET MELODY] Since this is literally my process here-- so I mean with Sherlock it starts fairly hesitantly as I'm trying to figure this all out. So I knew I had to go and find something dark. I knew I had to go and find something remarkable or something good enough for our villain. And really this whole thing is just sort of literally presents my thought process. Where up here you see little markers floating around, which are my me...

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.

This class has been inspiring and enlightening.

A true master, very informative and insightful. I felt it was beneficial even though I'm not a composer.

Just sincerely a beautiful class, couldn't ask for a better teacher for me to learn how to produce music. Even though he speaks for film scoring, I'm applying what he has taught for video game music. (:

So raw and from the heart. I look forward to diving deeper!



Anyone would have assumed a legendary Oscar winning composer must have had zero tolerance toward any kind of messy, distracting, meaningless noises... Hans Zimmer: Nah. composes beautiful music and rolls around comfortably in his squeaky armchair.

A fellow student

11:13 !!!! amazing mysterious moment :D really enjoying this master class!!! thank you Mr Zimmer

Rudy B.

Oh yes. This is by far the best so far. I never considered scoring linearly over the course of days. Notes in the Dairy will ease my fear of losing inspiration or cadence if developing the score over several days amid life's distractions.


I've been enjoying these classes more and more. And yet, I can't stop asking myself the same question over and over: "How can Hans work in such a squeaky chair?"

Art D.

This is the best section of the class so far. Very cool process. Just sketches of materials to draw from.


He worries about teaching in English yet he uses the language better than many native speakers do. How annoying. And it all just sounds like profound life advice, don't you think so?

Emad S.

Great lesson! Actually, I've been using this method for a long time and it's satisfying to see Hans uses and recommends it. The only thing is that I wish the sound quality was better. Seems the music is recorded from the speakers, not mixed separately.


Seriously, I love the content, But the sound is awful... recorded with the camera or what ? Such great pieces of music should be played in high quality (just use the out of his board into the camera...) I can't understand, this is a masterclass on film music and they can't even do it properly...

Tano P.

I use the memo/voice recorder on my phone to record ideas quickly all the time, but never on the computer in a DAW like Hans spoke about. This lesson was great to reaffirm the process. Love the idea of using a single file to record many ideas. Will definitely adopt this further.

Elizabeth P.

I am loving this even though I have no earthly "use" for all this information. Thanks to Hans Zimmer for sharing this, and I enjoy everyone's comments, too.