From Hans Zimmer's MasterClass


Discover how Hans approaches writing to story and his number one rule for film composers.

Topics include: Approaching Story • Learning the Story


Discover how Hans approaches writing to story and his number one rule for film composers.

Topics include: Approaching Story • Learning the Story

Hans Zimmer

Teaches Film Scoring

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At the end of the day, I can tell you everything you need to know in one word. Story. Stick with the story. Figure out the story, stick with the story like glue. Don't abandon the story, don't betray the story, know the story you want to tell. And in a funny way, it sounds like that is actually very narrow, but it's actually huge and vast because the subtext for the composer is that there is a subtext. Because you don't want to go and tell the story that they're telling beautifully, elegantly in images and words. You want to go and slip in underneath and find that bit that they're not illuminating yet, that takes the whole thing just that step further into sometimes a metaphysical world, sometimes into a more emotional world, sometimes just figuring out how to color a scene in a slightly different way. But at the end of the day, everybody on the film-- if it's a good project, a film become successful because everybody has decided that they want to tell this one story and it's just they're using their different voices to tell that story. I suppose it's a delicious meal, and I suppose at the end of the day, I don't see myself very differently from a chef. He has the task. The guests are coming at 8 o'clock and they want to have an experience. And so I go out and I see what's available. Are there fresh tomatoes? Oh, look, carrots look good. Potatoes. So you get all this stuff, and then you spend an enormous, inordinate amount of time peeling potatoes, chopping onions, and all that sort of stuff. And then at 10 to 8:00, you just put it all in the pot and you have, hopefully, a delicious and fresh meal. So I don't think the process is that different with the one caveat, always, you just always in the back of your mind, stay on story. Stay on story. Stay on story. There's an obsessive quality about the whole thing because what you're trying to do is, you're actually trying to figure out how you're going to live in this world. So there's a bit of method-composing that's going on where, yes, I'm a lot more fun to be around when I work on a romantic comedy than when I work on The Dark Knight. You just don't want to be around me then. I do become The Joker. I do become all of those things. I found over the years I have a strange way of working where when I start on a project, really what happens is, rather than reading the script, I'd much rather sit down with the director and say to him, tell me the story. Because then I know what's in his head, what his emphasis is, where his thoughts are going. He might not tell me all the details, and he certainly won't recite bits of dialogue to me, but I know what sort of a movie we were doing. When Ridley Scott phoned me and said, hey, let's make a gladiator movie, it's 9 o'clock in the morning. I'm no good at 9 o'clock in the morning. I just started laughing because I imagined he was going to ...

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.

Can't believe I learned from the legend. His lessons helped me achieving the quality I needed in my musical.

It's always a pleasure to hear Hans talk about his work...

Started with deadmau5. Went to Hans. It's Zimmerman to Zimmer. somewhere in the middle is where I find myself. I can apply what I've learned in both, and like deadmau5, I'll be back to go through this very slowly, patiently, and thoughtfully.

I actually did the first exercise and will eventually submit it. Really enjoy HZ's style. Never boring, somehow feels like a good friend you've known for a long time.


Robert B.

Perhaps, it is the way in which the meaningless days you spend your hours which, defines the amlgomation of pathos that you choose to subscribe to?

Robert B.

I thought that he made some interesting points. I would like to make some intersting points but my mind is full of all kinds of stuff cloging the output.

Carmen R.

wow! Hans Zimmer explains film music in such a simple, clear way. I've never played music nor I am aware of music theory and everything sounds so easy. I am totally caught by this course.

Linwe F.

I can't believe how well I can follow Han's explanations of the story. He structures the movie soundtrack into colors and rules which can be broken at a moment's notice. I love that!

J.L.P. R.

A quick but valuable explanation in refrence to changes in music styles or colors for different emotional impacts on different cues.


Hi guys, with reference to this concept "the Story" I dabbed in orchestral writing of an anthem entitled "Waiting for Santa - Another Christmas Together". The story is simple and, I suppose, creates an occasion to remember the childhood of any of us. In order to highlight the theme, I composed a video, through external contributions, that synergistically enhances with the music emotions of waiting and magic that Christmas gives to each one. I hope you will like it, and in the meantime I await your comments.

A fellow student

Hi Guys, I don’t have any music background or any music related, but always intriguing about how to create music whenever watch a movie, but don’t know how and where to start, it always blank in front of pc. Watching This lesson make wondering “how bout start it now” So I just bought logic pro from store and try to create a music to tell a story, now somehow I don’t have blank feeling in front of pc. The story is about a person who always look confused and in hurry situation and found out peace and die. Feel free to drop any comment, first music inspired from lecture. Thank you for the lessons.

Jaime C.

In my personal experience working as a composer I have been doing some of the things Hans mentions intuitively and discovering his analysis is a fresh food for the brain and has allowed me to grow. I definitely will consider his points in the next project. THANK YOU! Here is a making of the music of a movie I wrote in which I felt I followed what he is describing: Any comments, suggestions or debates are welcome!

Chantalle S.

Very interesting! I never thought about composing in this way. Film scoring is a first for me but one i am very interested in learning and mastering. When watching any movie or listening to any artist, i always remember the music rather than the actual lyrics or scene and how it made me feel. I'm all about breaking rules because i agree it is quite refreshing and makes you think how clever it was and helps builds the story but first i got to learn them.

Becky P.

I think music can speak to others in a way that doesn't require a common bond, but creates a common bond. Its not about the rules or the limits, its about expressing an emotion and that is something we all can have without bias.