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Arts & 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.

It's not about the Music (only), it's about adding another coherent layer to the story

This class was not exactly what I expected it to be, but I have learned so much more that I thought I would have. Thank you all so much for the work that has gone into preparing this class.

Most excellent and inspirational. I've already recommended this class to others. It's not possible to become at master without knowing a master.

I loved how his lessons were very conceptual. Focused on his thinking.


Solomon R.

I can't describe to everyone (Thank you Hans Zimmer) how this Masterclass, not this one in particular, but all of them are inspiring me! There is so much to learn here, eg. purpose, intention, etc I had never thought of music in this way before. I just play the notes that I feel fit and like and move to the next part, now I am going to think more about a question and an answer type of concept, etc. I also will download the workbook. I suggest if you are new to all of this, to start writing in a notebook all of the concepts and conclusions that Hans Zimmer comes up with, because now I will be taking a fine tooth comb to all the material here. Just answering some of the questions he comes up with I know will help my composition immensely!

Irma L.

This class is the best in term of examples, hands-on experience! Thank you! Love it.

Rachel R.

"The score is supposed to get you back to the specifics" - HZ inspired me to test limits. Not just with my music, but in everything I do! There isn't only "one right way" to do something!


@14:13. This part is great! I wanted to be the best drummer at 16 years old.... and always when we played along with other bands, there was a very humble drummer that played way superiorly than most; he didn't have the money to buy a Sonor or a Pearl drum kit... so he learned and practice at home in a drum kit he build in his backyard with (literally) kettles, 20 liters plastic buckets, 200 liters drums.... and many other things..... so he really needed to compensate and make the drumsticks bounce in very rare materials.... so whenever he sat on real drums, it was soo easy for him to get the drums bounce and acquire different sounds..... At the moment it was funny for me this guys drum kit.... now, I admire that very much (whatever happened to him? don't know, maybe he now plays with Hans)

Alena A.

I am Slovakian so I feel compelled to comment on what Hans has talked about. Though it is true that in Slovakia (like everywhere else) we still have a lot to work on to bring xenophobia lower, the reason why Gypsies live in isolation isn't because Slovaks are racists and won't give them jobs and won't socialize with them. The problems are much more complex and require intelligent steps from both Slovak and the Gypsies side. Unfortunately, it is not easy to change a community’s lifestyle in a single generation and there are documented cases where the Gypsies were actually given good flats for free and totally destroyed them within months. Also, rather than fighting to get an education and pursuing a career, many Gypsies take an easier way of drawing unemployment benefits from the state, which is in turn a source of great resentment from the Slovaks as this eats up a huge chunk of state budget of a very small country. Actually, we want nothing better than that they DO work. So please don't judge matters and pronounce opinions without getting to know them more deeply.

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!