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Arts & Entertainment

Music Diary: Sherlock Holmes

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 24:17 min

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.

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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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.

I'm not in the music nor film business, though I have been fascinated by it, but one of the things the class has done for me is to reaffirm the path I'm on, and the qualities that will carry me to success. The class is all I hoped to get from it. Some of the material of course is over my head because I'm not immersed in it, but it was richly rewarding, including those parts. Thank you!

So far wonderful! Hopefully the next series will come soon?

Hans is an amazing person, musician and composer. He has inspired me to think more 'outside the box' creatively and to compose new music every day!

As a writer it helped me to understand and improve my art.


Antonia T.

"This is my prison. It's the room where I spend 98% of my life. Because this is all I do. I go home. I come here. I love writing music".

A fellow student

Best lesson so far, Love it. I could have literally watched another 5 hours of him just digging through that diary. Curious if anyone knows what his instrument annotations mean, ie Violins "1 s" "2 s" etc. Cheers all

A fellow student

It is phenomenal to watch his initial drafts. I am curious about the software he is using. I recognize the pro-tools. I would love to know what orchestral software is he using?

Jeshua S.

Its so interesting that he plays with and tests pieces of music to make sure they will hold up when he goes to do the actual film

Rachel R.

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only composer that procrastinates.... I absolutely love the idea of a music diary and adding onto it daily!

Axel V.

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I watched Hans' lesson here. One quick question: Anyone has any idea how Hans makes the "creepy brass slide" in minute 11:00??? Is it just a legato? Thanks for your answer

A fellow student

"....oh my god I have no idea what to do" Mr. Zimmer describing how do we feel when we start :D

Bhargavi A.

Thank you Mr. Zimmer for sharing your diary. I feel so blessed to learn how you work and how you think.

Laura H.

Wow what an inspiring lesson. I'd love to hear him talk about his preparation harmonically- what understanding does he feel is important? Also, how does that experience on the computer translate to writing notes? Does he do any of that?

Jessica J.

I love when Hans goes to play his cue and cringes because it’s loud when you’re a kid and you turn on the stereo and the volume is too loud and you know you’re in trouble with mom and dad now....