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Arts & Entertainment


Werner Herzog

Lesson time 12:35 min

Learn how to communicate the mood you want for your music and how to work with composers to create amazing, memorable scores.

Werner Herzog
Teaches Filmmaking
In 6 hours of video lessons, Werner Herzog teaches his uncompromising approach to documentary and feature filmmaking.


The entire question about music, I cannot really describe. It's beyond verbalization. You have to watch, and you have to watch other great ones. Satyajit Ray the film maker from India, from Bengal filmmaker, who made a wonderful film called The Music Room, I think , in Hindi. But watch films and look at it. Polanski's very good with music. The Taviani brothers in Italy, they're great with music. You have to watch Padre Padrone. How they deal with music is just wonderful. Sometimes I too have to music before I even start filming. "Dancing Chicken," [? Sonny ?] [? Terry, ?] [? John, ?] I think, or the end of the film Bells From the Deep, this deep resonant voice. And I knew I would have it at the end, and the skaters had to be majestic. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [CHOIR SINGING] -. -May peace and happiness and love be with ye, amen. -Amen. [END PLAYBACK] I try to find the mood in the music. But I'm very, very fast in selecting music from the compositions. And very often, like Ernst Reijseger in my last films, I say here I need something very specific. There I need something very specific. Give me bucket of music pieces that have these kind of mood. And he delivers me bucket with a dozen variations of things, and I found out very quickly that's the one that fits. Normally, I do not have a composer who does from minutes 20 minutes and 40 seconds to 1 minute 22 and 11 seconds. It's not this exactly timed sort of thing. I normally ask for something which carries a mood, which carries such dynamic, which carries something bigger than what you see on the screen right away. It enhances certain settings. I would show them key footage in the film, like desert footage for Queen of the Desert or Fata Morgana, some basic elements of mirages that I shot. Or I would some key-- normally, it's the key things that I show. And I say, I need here to create space with music, and I need here something which is very unobtrusive and somehow seeps into your mind and solidifies it in your memory. Let's say Aguirre, the opening music, it's some sort of choirs that were voices in loops. And it was played like on a piano, on a predecessor of today's digital sort of choirs. And I said to Florian Fricke, who has been very dear to me as a composer and a collaborator, I said to him when he brought me some fast compositions, I said, no, no, no. It doesn't sound right. It's too much average music like in a movie. I need something that has great human pathos in it, something that is grandiose. You have a landscape, fill it, create space. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [CHOIR SINGING] [END PLAYBACK] And what is also remarkable is how music, all of a sudden, transforms this mountain into a location of great human pathos. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [CHOIR SINGING] -On Christmas Day of the year 1560, we crossed the last pass of...

Capture the spectacular

When the legendary director Werner Herzog was 19, he stole a camera and made his first movie. 70 films and 50 awards later, Werner is teaching documentary and feature filmmaking. In this film class, you’ll learn storytelling, cinematography, location scouting, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life. By the end, you’ll make uncompromising movies.


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

Looking forward to hearing from one of the best documentary filmmakers of all time!

Groundbreaking. A bit too authoritarian on his advices sometimes.

Gems in the Desert I love the desert... finding arrowheads, petrified wood, etc., adds highlights to the experience. I found many gems in this course,

Great advice, i am in the process of reading the recommended texts.


Reward E.

It is interesting and enlightening to see the extent to which he would go to get the right music.

Chad E.

I have completed all of Werner Herzog's lessons. For some reason this lesson on Music does not get checked off when completed. My classes show that I have completed 25 of 26 and it will not check off this one.

Chad E.

Werner Just barely touches on the importance of music in films. I don't see how one could exist without the other. Even so-called silent films were voiced and greatly enhanced with music.


Absolutely wonderful to hear this lesson and to have such powerful examples.

Michael K.

Don´t forget the different ways you can use a music title: - pure music without background sounds - music mixed with the original atmo-sounds of a scene - music mixed with atmo and speech or speaker and even - music mixed with other sound-effects like drones, nature sounds, machine sounds or whatever In every single case the very same music title can generate very different effects. - Take time for experimenting and sound mixing!!!

Bob S.

As Ken Burns says in his Master class, the music is not the icing on the cake but the glue!!

Rich C.

Riffing: Listen to the whole world of music. As much varied musical culture as you can. To paraphrase Frank Zappa, what we hear in America is such a small slice of what's actually out there that people can't possibly know what they like. If you don't poke around, you will end up with sameness and cliches, which is not doing anything, and a horrid missed opportunity to provide something wonderful (even if it's subtle). Acquaint yourself with avant-garde music and musique concrete, especially earlier works from the 1950's and 1960's when the movement was relatively new and thriving in so many unique ways, (Goes for sound designers too.) This is adventurous, daring music that doesn't rely on the tempered scale and 4/4 time, or, often, any scale or time signature at all. Percussion becomes very interesting in this realm, as does electronic music.

Aneta N.

To me music is only worth using if it is compelling to the whole movie, do not use it as a background... It lowers the potential of the drama and the movie itself.


I enjoyed the scenes with amazing music pieces and placement. I have to develop my music sense to feel and achieve that one day.

Brett B.

Music is essential to emotion. The purpose of music itself is to get one to feel. However, silence, or absence of music can be just as effective. Jaws, yes. Marvel movies, no. Can anyone here hum a song from the marvel universe? If music isn't done with purpose, then it doesn't work.