Arts & Entertainment, Music

Working With Musicians

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 15:13 min

Learn how to find and write for the best musicians and instruments for your score.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Casting Players • Writing for Musicians • Writing for Instruments


What I do to this day, I mean, you know, Sherlock is a really good example of this, but I would cast my player partly because I've heard them before, and partly because of who I know they are as a human being, as an actor. And I would just get them in. We would just sit and chat with the instrument and go, OK, tell me what you can do. But you know, no, no, no, I want a bit more. What is it the instrument-- we did this a lot on Interstellar with the woodwinds going, now, I know each one of you has a sound that you were never allowed to play. What is that sound? And you just enter into the conversation. I mean, on this last Batman-Superman film, I needed to find a sound for Wonder Woman. You know, at first, I went the obvious route, which was like a female voice. And I went, oh god, I've done that 1,000 times. You know, so sort of-- and then I suddenly remembered a female cellist friend of mine, Tina Guo, who plays electric cello. And she is-- when she comes into the room, she's one of the most polite and humble and quiet people, you know, very reserved, very shy. But when she grabs the cello-- she has a certain way of grabbing of cello and moving the bow in front of it-- it's like some ninja warrior princess, and all hell is unleashed. So I had the phrase written. And the phrase was, it was a tiny little phrase. But all I tried to do is get Tina, who's speaking to me, with best manners, to become the banshee that I knew she could be, because people are different when they have their instruments in front of them. They can express something that they keep hidden from you. And the whole point, the whole point of this room, the whole point of what I try to do with them is, I try to trick them into the comfort of expressing all that they can express. And with Tina, I mean, literally, we spend a week on this phrase, just honing the performance of this. And I remember the first time playing it to the director and his producer wife. And they were sitting on the couch. Without saying anything I just had the picture running, and then the phrase came in. And it was a physical shock to them in a good way. It made them nervous. It made them anxious. It made them really excited because I transformed the character. But it was really two things. One, knowing what the cello can do, or not knowing what the cello can do, and really having a conversation about-- I know it can play a pretty but what else can it do-- and stopping this idea that you want to have a cello. I don't want to have a cello. I want Tina Guo. That's who I want. And I do that with all of my players. I need to know. It's not the string section. If you think of it as the string section, you might as well go into the fields and hire a bunch of sheep. That's not the point. The point is that you want to hand-pick every individual player for their strength. ...

About the Instructor

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.

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Hans Zimmer

From collaborating to scoring, Hans Zimmer teaches you how to tell a story with music in 31 exclusive video lessons.

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