Music & 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.

This guy, Zimmer, is a real person!! NO pomposity at all! Gotta love it!

I have learned to be able to expand my creative insight and pursuit into sharing my talent . It is honorable to see how much insight you can gain into understanding lessons theoretically rather than practically. I would suggest more people such as myself to join and learn something that do so passionately to go into masterclass! Thank you so much once again Hans!

It was very inspiring! I think now it's time to compose and tell some great story!

Very illustrative stories about his personal experience.


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....

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?

Ethan F.

Once again he proves that composing music is not that obvious, even if you just got out of a discussion with the director and feel enthusiastic and inspired. Reality is that once you're in front of your keyboard you just go "argh" ! Love it !

Andy C.

Would have been good to get a chapter on the process. It was only during this lesson I realised that the music is written in chunks and then edited together to make the score. It make sense but wondered what the full process is - does Hans never hear his final score until the full movie final edit is done?


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.