Hans Zimmer stands among today’s most extraordinary composers and producers. His work is featured as the main theme for many of Hollywood’s top motion pictures. Other than that, even the video gaming industry seeks for a Hans Zimmer masterpiece for their top selling titles.
But what makes his work so amazing and deeply moving anytime we hear of him?
I think the making of the Interstellar soundtrack perfectly displays a master at work. Here you’ll see how he approaches his work and the challenges that present themselves.
The Organs of Interstellar
Christopher Nolan set out the perfect concept for Hans Zimmer to perform. He wanted to engage Hans in a very pure creative process. So Hans got fragmented pieces of ideas from Chris and started to work from there.
The story was about the father-daughter bond, without the interference of the movie genre. This gave Hans the space to get to the heart of the film.
Next stop was Temple church in Central London. Religious structures represent mankind’s attempt to portray the mystical, that which is beyond the realm of everyday life. It interprets the realm beyond time.
Once the capabilities of the church organ became apparent the adventure could really begin. Since you can shift the color of every sound this part became an endless discovery towards complex harmonics.
Because an organ works on air there is something intrinsically human about the sound it makes. The organ breaths and creates both intimacy and a feeling of massive scale. Now you know where the expression pulling out all the stops comes from.
Hans Zimmer’s music emotes. It moves you. It touches you. And it works every single time because of that raw human touch, which he know to express very well.
Composing and producing music
I never quite understood what music composition and production was all about. But as I now see it’s about two main skills, composing and producing.
Composing is turning the abstract, the infinite into a solid form, i.e. the song or melody. It’s the structure or the piece of work. This will be the symphony, concerto or movement if you will.
Producing is the manipulation of the sound, tweaking it to fit the right expression. This invokes the right emotion in your audience.
Metal Gear Solid
Did you know that the Metal Gear Solid theme was composed by one of Hans Zimmer’s few apprentices. Remember Encounter, when Solid Snake had to run and hide? I always wondered why that song was so captivating.