Music & Entertainment

Working With Musicians

Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 15:14 min

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

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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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. ...

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 am not a film scorer. I am just an audience member that has been incredibly moved by Hans' music. I signed up for this course to get the opportunity to crawl into his magnificent mind. I am a performer - and I just learned so much more about how to tell a story. Thank you Masterclass, and thank you Hans Zimmer! ❤

It's a validation of everything you have ever thought was true. Especially the last part about "I hoped you'd never get to this point.. " - THAT was a classic. :)

Just from the get-go, everyone is so respectful and kind! I love this community of students! :D

This class is everything that was advertised. I would recommend it to anyone with a passion for film music. Hans Zimmer is amazing.


Ethan F.

And so Hans abused of some gypsies aha ! No truly that's a great way to get to the style he was searching for.


Sometimes Hans delivers solid nuts and bolts information, and other times he entertains with charming anecdotes, which can be fun but maybe not so useful. This lesson is the latter.

Kenneth S.

People are different when they have their instruments with them, they can express something that is hidden - very true! I like that he values the individuality of the musicians. That resonates with me. Those musicians are your tool kit.

Matt N.

Loved this lesson in particular. As a musician first and composer second, some of the greatest music I should have been recording and forgot to was when a bunch of other musicians got in a room and wrote as they went, based on an idea.

Kori C.

I can relate to this in my own music. When working on a project, I want other musicians working with me that get me musically, yet they can add their quirks and style to the music. It's amazing when you find the right musicians!


Thanks so much for sharing all the interesting TIPS and TRICKS to get the BEST tunes!

Bruno D.

Music comes from the streets, the hearts, the people, their lives, gypsies from Romania or bluesmen from Mississippi tell their stories through violins or dobros, but it's the same passion. Again, a wonderful lesson.

sebastiano M.

Great lesson. By the way, Tina Guo and Aleksey Igudesman are two extraordinary musicians.

Judith M.

I loved the way that you went on the ultimate treasure hunt, in search of authentic instrumental voices and the passion of their players. There is a superstitious part of me that always wonders if the musician or the instrument is in control during those moments, when you can see and hear into a persons mood or soul, in the case of the Roma, a people. So few see past the negative stories told against them, to what they really are. Did they enjoy being part of the orchestra for the movie? My bet is the feel changed and people had more fun than usual after hours. Music as an international language. One that can bring out the hidden self like you see in your friend Tina. I also admit to being intrigued by how you managed sound sampling there. Because I just can't believe that you just used phones, but then I'm not up on such details - must take a look and see how tech in that regard has changed.

Jonathan S.

This takes his knowledge to a whole other level. The players as actors. But it makes perfect sense. And it also shows you how much experience is required to know who can deliver that emotion for you. And how that can be different in other countries of the world. Richard Carpenter (The Carpenters) tells the story of the solo trumpet part in "Close To You." There's a little sound he needed called a "doit," there they player slips up to the note. He had something like four of Los Angeles's finest trumpeters imitate what he wanted, but only one could do it. The lesson here being that he knew exactly what he wanted. Sometimes you're in it to discover something interesting. Other times you know exactly what you need. I also like his phrase "authentic passion." That's the difference between a good actor and a great one. The good actor can look like her heart is broken. The great one's heart is actually broken for those moments captured on film. And they can deliver that take after take. Same with the right musicians.