It was 2022, early April, in Ljubljana, Slovenia… Hans Zimmer steps on a big stage with his orchestra… And for the next few hours, I was in another world.
During his live shows, Hans Zimmer manages to deliver magic. But it’s in the cinema where the real magic happens – his music creates a unique, captivating atmosphere in each and every movie he composed for.
Without a doubt, he is one of the most successful and influential film composers of all time, responsible for creating iconic film scores for The Lion King, Gladiator, Inception, Interstellar, The Dark Night… Just to name a few.
But is Hans also a good teacher, and did he manage to deliver a great performance with his MasterClass as well? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
Overview of Hans Zimmer's MasterClass
Hans Zimmer is hands down one of the best film composers and a living legend, known for composing music for many iconic movies and blockbusters. He is famous for integrating electronic music sounds with classic orchestral arrangements, as well as his innovative approach to creating music for film.
In his MasterClass, Hans talks about his journey and life as a composer, which makes this an ideal class for anyone who appreciates his work. But this is also a great class for aspiring composers and movie buffs, as Hans shares valuable tips on how to write compelling film scores. He also delves deeper into specific character themes and soundtracks.
The course features 31 lessons with a duration of 5 hr 40 min in total. This is a rather extensive course compared to some other MasterClasses, covering a variety of film scoring-related topics.
Who is Hans Zimmer?
Hans Zimmer is a German film score composer and music producer who has composed music for over 100 films, including The Dark Knight trilogy, Sherlock Holmes, Dune, Interstellar, The Lion King, The Pirate of the Caribbean, The Last Samurai, and Inception. He has won two Oscars (for The Lion King and Dune) and four Grammys.
You might be surprised to hear that he is a self-taught composer. He received no formal training in music but taught himself how to compose and managed to find his place in the film industry. Things changed for him after he got an internship with Stanley Myers – and, apparently, after he fixed his coffee machine. He got involved in Myers’ film scoring process, and then one project led to another.
As a composer, Hans Zimmer is known for fusing electronic sounds with traditional orchestral arrangements. He is very passionate about movies, and he sees himself as a filmmaker as well as a composer. For him, a music piece is a conversation – in every film, the scoring process should establish the rules and then break them.
What is the target audience for Hans Zimmer's MasterClass?
To be honest, it’s not easy to determine what is the target audience for this MasterClass supposed to be. There are many practical writing tips that can be useful for music students and composers, but Hans often breaks the flow of the lesson with his stories and personal experiences.
All of this makes the whole course dynamic but also makes it a bit hard to follow. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to learn – whether you’re an aspiring composer or you’re simply here because you like Hans Zimmer’s music.
Either way, here are some of the people who might benefit from this course:
- Aspiring composers
- Film and music students
- Film and music enthusiasts
- Admirers of Hans Zimmer’s work
What does Hans Zimmer teach in this course?
In his MasterClass, Hans Zimmer teaches film scoring – and that encompasses anything from creating themes and working with synthesizers to collaborating with directors and musicians.
Apart from sharing useful writing tips and talking about his experience of working with famous directors, Hans also explains how he came up with some of his most iconic soundtracks and themes through case study lessons.
At the end of the course, he also talks about his journey of how he entered the film industry and composed his first pieces. More importantly, he encourages young composers to get involved – as he puts it, there are no stupid questions, and nobody knows what they’re doing anyway. Of course, there’s a complex thought process and work behind every note he ever composed, but he manages to explain this process in a very understandable and encouraging way.
Most lessons in this course are clear and informative, although they can get a bit confusing at times – topics tend to get a bit mixed up. Nevertheless, the course covers all the relevant and interesting topics related to film scoring.
- Lessons 1-3 briefly introduce you to the instructor and the basics of how to create a memorable theme.
- Lessons 4-6 revolve around Hans’ experiences of working with directors and things you need to learn from a director in order to start writing.
- Lessons 7-10 deal with specific techniques and processes of film scoring, including creating sound palettes, using synths, and scoring under dialogue.
- Lessons 11-12 are focused on tempo and the example from Sherlock Holmes.
- Lesson 13 is based on Hans’ music diary for Sherlock Holmes.
- Lessons 14-17 are based on creating character themes, with a closer look at the development of character themes for Batman, Jack Sparrow, and Joker.
- Lessons 18-19 are The Dark Knight and Frost/Nixon case studies.
- Lessons 20-22 are about working with musicians and the orchestra.
- Lessons 23-24 shed light on the importance of feedback.
- Lessons 25-31 contain useful writing tips and Hans’ personal journey and stories that are very encouraging and inspiring.
Some of my favorite lessons from the Hans Zimmer MasterClass
“Hans Zimmer teaches Film Scoring” is a well-rounded course that covers a variety of film music-related topics and Hans’ experiences as one of the world’s most respected film composers. It’s a very insightful course, for sure, and it’s not easy to pick the best lessons. Nevertheless, here are a few of my personal favorites.
I loved this lesson because it gave me a chance to get into Hans Zimmer’s mind for a bit and see how he sees music. He says music is like a conversation – he creates melodies as if they’re questions or answers – and all of that makes perfect sense when he plays some notes from Interstellar and Sherlock Holmes.
This was an interesting and insightful lesson because it showed how some music pieces can have a different effect on you if you’re part of the audience. This is why it’s important to get audience feedback before finishing the film score.
Hans’ Journey is probably one of the most inspiring lessons in this course. In the lesson, Hans talks about how he started composing film music and what got him interested in this type of career in the first place.
How much does the Hans Zimmer MasterClass cost?
If you want to take Hans Zimmer’s film scoring course, you have to subscribe to MasterClass. MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so there’s no possibility to purchase courses individually.
The annual subscription to Masterclass costs $120 per year (down from the previous $180), or $10 per month. With the MasterClass subscription, you’ll get unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes. So, if you want to take multiple classes, MasterClass subscription is certainly worth it. And since there are so many classes to choose from, you’ll surely find something that interests you.
The platform also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with the platform and your learning experience, you can request a full refund.
What I liked about the Hans Zimmer MasterClass
In short, Hans Zimmer’s MasterClas provides insightful and inspiring lessons, interesting case studies, and top production quality. I really enjoyed the course, and although it’s somewhat lengthy, the time actually flew by.
To be more precise, here are some of the aspects of the course I liked the most:
Learning from one of the best composers of all time
It’s always fascinating to hear how brilliant creative minds work – and that’s what I love the most about MasterClass. It’s not only about getting practical tips and valuable knowledge; it’s about being inspired and encouraged. And being able to see how one of the best contemporary film composers approaches music and creativity is truly amazing.
Hans Zimmer manages to convey knowledge and tell stories in a very compelling way, even though he doesn’t do so in his native language. He is a very inspiring person, for sure, especially because he started out as a self-taught composer who simply decided to get involved.
Useful writing tips
Apart from sharing inspiring stories, Hans also gives useful advice about how to make it as a film composer. He talks about the effective way you can create a character theme and tempo and reveals how he likes to break rules (elegantly.)
Also, he provides useful tips on how to communicate with directors and musicians, which is another essential part of being a film composer. It was interesting to hear how music can inform the way a director makes the picture.
Great examples and case studies
While explaining how he creates themes, melodies, and suitable tempos, Hans constantly gives (and plays) examples. For instance, when he talks about the way he sees melodies – as questions and answers – he plays a melody from the Sherlock Holmes film score on the piano.
There are also a few case study lessons that take you behind the scenes of some of the iconic movies and the mechanism behind their film scores.
Excellent production quality
MasterClass courses are made with excellent production quality, and Hans Zimmer’s course is no different. Video lessons are beautifully made, so it’s fair to say that this was a true cinematic learning experience.
However, I do wish there was more music during some lessons.
What I didn’t like about the Hans Zimmer MasterClass
Overall, I really enjoyed this course – it was insightful, versatile, and very inspiring. However, there are some things that could be improved.
The structure could be better
Although I enjoyed all the lessons immensely, there were some bits that got me a bit confused and overwhelmed. Hans is a great teacher, but he tends to meander a bit when trying to make a point and explain something. The lessons also jump from topic to topic, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also easy to feel a little bit lost from time to time. As Hans himself said in one of the lessons, good transitions are important.
Review conclusion: Is the Hans Zimmer MasterClass worth it?
As an admirer of Hans Zimmer’s work and film music in general, I had high expectations regarding this course.
And my expectations were definitely met. Hans is a knowledgeable, passionate, and inspiring instructor, and he speaks about his career as well as personal journey experiences in a very open and honest way.
Although there are some minor things that could, in my opinion, be improved – like the course structure and more music in the background – I do believe they might be here deliberately. After all, if you want to gain theoretical musical knowledge, you can always find additional learning sources.
In essence, Hans Zimmer’s MasterClass is here to inspire and shed light on what really matters in the creation of a film score. It’s also here to help you look at film, music, and creativity in a new way. And that’s why I think it’s worth every cent.
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