I worked for Hans Zimmer for about 8 years, 5 of which were in a studio at Remote Control, his facility in Santa Monica. Since leaving Remote, many people have said to me, usually in a conspiratorial tone of voice, things like this: Hans doesn’t really write his own music. The studios only give him work because he’s famous. He’s not a real musician. He just gets his clients drunk and all the work is done by guys in the back room. And so forth.

The underlying implication is that this underhanded semi-musician has Hollywood in his thrall due to Svengali like powers and maybe, someday, they’ll wake up and hire a “real” composer – like whoever is whispering to me.

No other composer seems to stir up this kind of ire – I never hear people say, “Yeah, that John Williams only writes 12-line sketches and it’s up to his orchestrators to make it into real music!”

Well, I hate to break it to you, but Hans gets what he gets because…he deserves it.

Here is why:

1) HANS IS A VISIONARY.

In films there is a process called “spotting” in which the composer and director decide what kind of music is needed where. Hans is the best spotter I’ve ever observed. He has an extraordinary sense of what will work. But long before spotting, he will spend weeks writing a suite which is the source of the musical themes of the film. Oddly, this isn’t really about music – it’s about the essence of what the story and the characters are. Film composer great Elmer Bernstein (Magnificent Seven, To Kill A Mockingbird) once said to me, “The dirty little secret is that we’re not musicians – we’re dramatists.” Hans is an outstanding dramatist.

But he also fearlessly pushes himself, challenging the limits of what is acceptable in our medium. In Batman: Dark Knight, long before we had footage of the film, Hans asked Heitor Pereira (guitar), Martin Tillman (cello), and me (violin and tenor violin) to separately record some variations on a set of instructions involving 2 notes, C and D. This involved a fair amount of interpretation! For those who are familiar with classical music, it was John Cage meets Phil Glass. We each spent a week making hundreds of snippets. Then we had to listen to each other’s work and re-interpret that. The end result was a toolbox of sounds that provided Hans with the attitude of his score.

Later, he asked me to double every ostinato (repeating phrase) pattern the violins and violas played. There were a LOT. And a great studio orchestra had already played them all! I spent a week on what I considered an eccentric fool’s errand, providing score mixer, Alan Meyerson, with single, double, and triple pass versions of huge swaths of the score. Months later, I joked with him about how “useful” my efforts had been. Alan told me that, actually, they had turned out to be a crucial element of the score, that he often pulled out the orchestra and went to my performances when something needed to be edgy or raw.

The video below shows something from Man of Steel. Hans assembled a room full of great trap set drummers to play the same groove at the same time, each with tiny variations. Is it a stunt? Maybe. But does it deliver a sound you’ve never quite heard before? Definitely.

Read also:  The 5 best ways to get and keep a job as a Hollywood Composer Assistant (or anything else)

2) HANS WORKS VERY, VERY HARD.

When working on a project – which is most of the time – Hans usually arrives at the studio at 11 am and then works until 3 or 4 in the morning. 7 days a week. For months. As the deadline approaches, everything else fades away. Harry Gregson-Williams once told me you could tell how far into a project Hans was by the length of his beard – at some point, he stops shaving.

His late-night hours provide welcome relief from badgering studios and the noise of running a business. They proved to be a challenge to my metabolism when I was getting up at 6 a.m. to go to yoga. Which leads me to a the title of another post, “Never Keep Different Hours Than Your Boss.” But I digress.

Hans is not as fast as his one-time assistant, Harry, or his current go-to arranger, Lorne Balfe, both of whom work at superhuman speed. Hans once suggested that I worked too fast. I was puzzled at the time, but what I think he was really saying was that I needed to pay better attention to the little details that, cumulatively, make all the difference.

3) HANS IS THE BEST FILM MUSIC PRODUCER IN THE BUSINESS.

We’re not talking about technical music skills. Hans is a so-so pianist and guitarist and his knowledge of academic theory is, by intention, limited. (I was once chastised while working on The Simpsons Movie for saying “lydian flat 7” instead of “the cartoon scale.”) He doesn’t read standard notation very well, either. But no one reads piano roll better than he does. [The piano roll is a page of a music computer program that displays the notes graphically.] Which gets to the heart of the matter: Hans knows what he needs to know to make it sound great.

Sometimes, that is the right musicians. Sometimes it is the right sample library. Sometimes it is the right room, or engineer, or recording technique, or mixing technique. All that counts is the end result. And it always sounds spectacular.

4) HANS WORKS WITH GREAT PEOPLE.

Take a look at the composers who have worked for Hans: John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams, Heitor Pereira, Henry Jackman, Steve Jablonsky, Lorne Balfe, Trevor Morris, Ramin Djawadi, Jeff Rona, Mark Mancina, Atli Örvarsson, Geoff Zanelli, Blake Neeley, Stephen Hilton, Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg and on and on. And Alan Meyerson, his mixer. And Bob Badami and Ken Karman, his music editors. (Bob’s credits alone dwarf about everybody in the business). His great percussionists, Satnam Ramgotra and Ryeland Allison. Sound designers, Howard Scarr and Mel Wesson. Not to mention Steve Kofsky, his business partner. And all the tech whizzes he’s had over the years: Mark Wherry, Sam Estes, Pete Snell, Tom Broderick. Even his personal assistants – Andrew Zack, and later, Czar Russell – are remarkable.

Of course, the really amazing talents are the ones he works for: Chris Nolan, Gore Verbinski, Jim Brooks, Ron Howard, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Jerry Bruckheimer. But he would never get the chance to work for them if he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.

Read also:  Hans Zimmer's Journey to the Line: Asymmetry and The Forbidden Cue

5) HANS IS A CHARMER.

The first time Jeffrey Katzenberg heard Hans’ love theme for Megamind he said, “It sounds like 1968 on the French Riviera.” It was not a compliment. And it wasn’t wrong. Actually, what Hans realized – and Jeffrey hadn’t – was that the heart of the love story in the movie was right out of A Man and A Woman and La Nouvelle Vague. Rather than point this out, Hans said, “Let me work on it some more.” Over the next two weeks he played revision after revision for Jeffrey, each time making small changes to the arrangement or structure, but keeping the same basic tune. A couple of weeks later, after Jeffrey tore apart the music for a different scene that we’d worked pretty hard on, he said, “Well, at least we have a great love theme!” The rest of us looked at each other. When did that happen!

Hans is acutely aware of the presentational aspect of our business. His capacious control room, rather than being the strictly functional wood and bland fabric of a typical studio, is a lurid red velvet – a 19th century Turkish bordello as Hans describes it. With a wall of rare analog modular synthesizers in the back. At dinner, he serves his guests fine wine, and gives others cleverly appropriate (more so than lavish) gifts. As one of his clients said to me, “Hans makes you feel like a great chef is inviting you into his kitchen.”

Not all of us can afford HZ-level dog and pony shows. But most of us can use what we do have better.

6) HANS DELIVERS.

Hans often gets hired for massive projects. The reason he uses an army of people is that he needs them to keep up with the demands of the directors and the studios. Halfway through Rango, Gore Verbinski suddenly changed direction, threw almost everything out, and we started over. Without a team to carry out the new directions, we’d have been dead.

Look at what happened to Howard Shore on King Kong, Marc Shaiman on Team America, Maurice Jarre on River Wild, Gabriel Yared on Troy, or the great Bernard Herrmann on Torn Curtain. In each case they were fired because the studio or director lost faith that they could shift direction quickly enough once their original approach was rejected. In 150+ films this has never happened to Hans.

BTW, he is also very aware of what the power structure is – who really makes decisions. I was fired – or more accurately not hired after a trial period – from a film because I jumped through hoops for the director who brought me in while not spending enough time figuring out what the producer – the actual power – wanted. Rather than being sympathetic, Hans told me I had failed in a fundamental task: determining who was my boss. He was right, and I haven’t made that mistake again.

So, is Hans my favorite film composer? No. He’s not even Hans’ favorite film composer! (I’m guessing that would be Nina Rota or Ennio Morricone, but you’d have to ask him.) And he can be dismissive, condescending, arrogant, exploitative, and just plain mean. Like me. And, I suspect, you.

But he is exceptionally smart, gifted, accomplished, and hard-working. And here is the hard truth: outside of a few rare exceptions, the people who are successful in the film business are successful because they deserve to be. They have earned it. Yes, they have been lucky. But everybody gets lucky eventually. The question is what do you do when good fortune arrives. If you want to be as successful as the people you admire, you need to be as smart, resourceful, and determined as they are. As Hans is.

You’ll find composer Michael A. Levine on Facebook and IMDb. His website is MichaelLevineMusic.com

Posted by Michael A. Levine

Composer and Songwriter for TV, Film, Games & Concert Music. Credits include Cold Case, Star Wars Detours and the Hunger Games: Catching Fire OST with Lorde’s cover version of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World”.

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137 Comments on "Why Hans Zimmer Got The Job You Wanted (And You Didn’t)"

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Richard Halsey
Guest

Really enjoyed what you had to say about Han’s and about composing
film scores…Richard Halsey editor

Darren Baker
Guest

Mr Halsey, you cut my favourite film, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO. I know it’s quality when I see your name in the credits. Thank you for your incredible work!

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[…] > He wouldn’t make it into my top 50 film composers, but have to admit he is effective: Hans Zimmer – tent pole movie score factory, inspired genius, or somewhere inbetween? […]

Tim Gedemer
Guest

Found this interesting and provocative – thanks for sharing your thoughts on this –

Sebastian
Guest

Hans is currently the greatest living film composer alive. Period! And to all the haters… Stop being so nostalgic and be progressive, like Hans!

An.Andrew
Guest

He is good,but John Williams isn’t dead yet…

Darren Baker
Guest

Nor are Horner, Badalamenti, Glass, Elfman, Shore, Armstrong, Isham, Goldenthal, Patrick Doyle, Trevor Jones, etc… etc… Who are all better.

Stephen
Guest

It hurts my soul that anyone actually thinks Glass is better than Hans. Just hurts my soul.

Collin
Guest

Please, go listen to some more Philip Glass. If you just made a statement like that, then that means you clearly haven’t heard enough from him. Two of my favorites are “Philip Glass – Aguas de Amazonia” and “Metamorphosis” There’s a great version of Metamorphosis on youtube played by Branka Parlic; it’s deeply captivating.

Kirke Godfrey
Guest

Totally Agree

Sam Hillis
Guest

In your humble opinion, of course.

Eric van Aro
Guest

You’ve got a point there! I guess his work on the lone ranger was an intentional tribute to Ennio Morricone….
Really enjoyed reading this!

Russ Hughes
Guest

Well done, when I saw this on Facebook I was expecting another kiss-n-tell hatefest. Thank you for swimming against the modern trend of cynicism. The world needs more people like you and Hans!

gray
Guest

Nepotism? ‘Cause the music ain’t that great.

H.R.
Guest

Thank you so much. It was really nice to read it. One of my biggest dream of life is to meet Mr.Zimmer and tell him how he changed my whole life forever!

Chuck Cirino
Guest

It’s very interesting how there are always new directions to go with music production.

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[…] via Why Hans Zimmer Got The Job You Wanted (And You Didn’t). […]

Christos Andreou
Guest

Great article indeed. I really love the fact that Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone are mentioned. Really enjoyed reading this!

Jaxxer
Guest

I got to know Hans music around 89 and immediately got hooked. Not everything is a s brilliant but he has done so much great stuff. If you are as productive as he is you need to be practical and social, (to gather all the right people on the right places). There is no “best”in music, it all comes down to taste in the end… but if you have done around 150 movies and still get asked by the top movie directors you must be doing something right! Cheers.

Bram Timmer
Guest

Working hard must be his German background. The strict mentality to focus and execute. I know someone else who shares similarities to his name structure and works 16-17 hour days to achieve great end-results in creative projects.

BobsYourUncle
Guest

Great and poignant article. Based from personal observation, I would agree with every single thing. It’s so efficiently forward in it’s focus of the ‘job’ over the ‘work’, it could slip past the reader if they’re not paying attention.
Making filmmakers feel ‘special’ is hands down his forte, and a cornerstone of his success. That sounds like a left-handed compliment, and it is. However, we could all learn something from this approach…

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[…] post from the Soundtracks and Trailer Music blog has been making the rounds on Facebook, and it made me think about what a composer actually […]

Paul Cain
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The answer to the posit in the title of this article is that Hans Zimmer gives studios precisely the music that they think they need. And what they think they need is shit.

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[…] > He wouldn’t make it into my top 50 film composers, but have to admit he is effective: Hans Zimmer – tent pole movie score factory, inspired genius, or somewhere inbetween? […]

Dre2Dee2 (@Dre2Dee2)
Guest

Overrated

vk
Guest

I would like to tell you guys about great Indian Maestro Ilayaraja. He is the best Indian music director and who brings life to the movies. I can bet no one in this world can bring so much emotions to the movie through music.

Peter F. Ebbinghaus
Admin

Sounds interesting indeed! Because this sounds more like off-topic please send us an email with your favrite movies by Ilayaraja, would be really appreciated! https://behindtheaudio.com/contact/

Nagin
Guest

YES. Mr.VK. i AGREE. I AM A DIE HARD DEVOTEE OF ILAYARAJA. WE CAN FEEL HIS SOUL TOUCHING BGMs AND EMOTIONS THROUGH HIS SONGS’ PRELUDES, INTERLUDES AND POSTLUDES. NAGIN

Vijay.
Guest

YES VK. GUYS, LISTEN….my dream is to give a movie named MOUNA RAAGAM,THALABATHI or NAYAGAN, my list goes on….to any of the worlds renowned composers and see the result….I am sure that they cant create the magic which MAESTRO Ilayaraja has created. Every other composers you name them , they stand next to him MAESTRO ILAYARAJA..( the messenger of GOD )

Marylata E. Jacob
Guest
Thank you Michael, for your insightful, in depth and accurate portrayal of Hans. From the earliest of days when his studio was housed at the old Wilder Bros on Santa Monica in Century City to his current teeming complex, Hans has made a welcomed home for filmmakers. Hans, by his very nature and talent is a true filmmaker. His scores are influenced more by the film’s lighting and colors, than dialogue. His work and imprint begins long before he plays the first note, long before principal photography, long before the shooting script is final. In the land of Hollywood where… Read more »
jim salber
Guest

sorry to see that HANS ZIMMER the lone ranger soundtrack isn’t available to buy on cd, just some stupid “music inspired by”
…cd.

Peter F. Ebbinghaus
Admin

We’ve contacted Disney and will tell you the latest news about it asap. Right now you’re unfortunately right about the fact that there are only mp3-downloads available. Because this is more off- than on-topic, we will send you the news directly via email.

Jim Salber
Guest

Thank you, i appreciate it. Technology is great but i like to have a physical copy of a soundtrack. Mr. Zimmers arrangement of the william tell overature on the LONE RANGER soundtrack is simply amazing. when i heard it begin during the final chase scene of the movie, i thought OK, here we go.

Peter F. Ebbinghaus
Admin

We’re still waiting for an answer by the international office but meanwhile we at least got an answer by the German office which simply told us that it is available right now! Please check your local sellers as well as amazon: http://georiot.co/p0c Good luck!

Chris Neel
Guest

Two words: Stanley Myers.

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[…] A. Levine recently published a great piece on his time with Zimmer in the aptly titled “Why Hans Zimmer Got The Job You Wanted (And You Didn’t)” and tautly addresses some of the most popular criticisms leveled at the composer. While the […]

William Anderson
Guest
It was a very interesting read, Mr. Levine, but it did not dissuade me from my enduring opinion of Mr. Zimmer. That being: he is a soundtrack composer, and not a film composer.And not a very good composer, per se. In fact I would have to conclude that he is an “organism”, and its not very clear at all what he actually writes. It’s a concept he spawned, and does nothing to further the excellence of his true predecessors , as he appears to breed, in the main, equally mediocre “talent”. It’s not clear where he begins and his minion… Read more »
FGL
Guest
Hello William Anderson! I could not agree with you more. While I commend Hans Zimmer for his production and ability to create interesting new soundscapes for film music I don’t think his music is inspired at all but rather what years ago would be considered mild underscoring of a film or simply mood music. Big drums with blocky brass writing is not at all an art but rather taking one sound and expanding it as much as possible. I am a young film composer, just starting out in the industry and lucky to have worked with a few of the… Read more »
Sebastian
Guest
Hey FGL – You and William Anderson seem to share the same opinion, how sad. I see it especially sad, that as a young upcoming film composer you’re not embracing the future… and have this ‘resentment’ of innovation. You might be a fine classical composer – – but you scare me with the way you talk about ‘film music’ – – I’m a massive film score buff (not a composer) and why do I love film music so much? The possibilities are endless… The sounds and music that can be created goes beyond our imagination!! You certainly won’t achieve ‘success’… Read more »
FGL
Guest
Sebasitian, I think you misread what I wrote. I clearly stated that I do intend to utilize all the innovations in sound design, orchestration and approach to film music and further up on them. I have been lucky enough to work on a few of them this past year. What I meant of the ideals of John Williams and Goldsmith was meant with the sense of the artistry of it rather than the mass production and limited musical language (this comes into the notes themselves not the sounds or instrumentation which I think Hans Zimmer is genius at) of using… Read more »
FGL
Guest

Forgive typos and spelling mistakes.

IllusionSector
Guest
Hi, FGL. Your reply to Sebastian was a very compelling and inspiring read. I feel you have a fantastic career ahead of you and look forward to hearing the great works you will certainly write. In fact, I’m sure you since have composed some great music, which I would check out if only I knew what “FGL” abbreviates. On the topic of originality you wrote: “…if I was trying to imitate someone else I might as well give up because why would a director get me to compose the music for their film when they could just get the guy… Read more »
Sebastian
Guest
Mr Anderson… First off, i’m a massive film score enthusiast and collector. Having read your post and the ‘contempt’ you seem to have for Mr Zimmer is nothing short of hate and elitism. ‘Hans Florian Zimmer’ is currently one of the greatest living film composers working today, and will be remembered in 200yrs time as the ‘MOZART’ of our time! He will always maintain a Top 5 Greatest Film Composer status in human history. The closest in comparison (in terms of quality) is Ennio Morricone. You sound like all the other pompous windbags who yearn for the ‘golden age’ of… Read more »
William Anderson
Guest
Poor “Sebastian”, and all the other deluded Zimmer sycophants, you are so out of touch with musical art of film scoring, and in love with your precious genius to be incapable of stepping back and objectively looking his output in a historical,and potentially historical, context. Also, you are so determined that Mr. Zimmer is the modern equivalent to Mozart or Beethoven ( what a sick and offensive joke that is ) that you fail, miserably in defending his collectively-written creations, or acknowledge that he is incapable of single-handedly “scoring” ( if that what you call his form of art )… Read more »
Joshua
Guest

Wow William Anderson really comes off as a bitter little twerp. He must just wish you had a career as lucrative as Zimmers instead of having to score my little pony lol. And for some who claims to “know what their talking about” you may wanna do some fact checking. Williams doesn’t have the most Oscars for a composer. A gentleman by the name of Alfred Newman holds that honor. Fuckin moron hahaha

wr
Guest

Doing so well until you suggested that Elfman is any better…

William Anderson
Guest
What an odd reply to Mr. Levine. You don’t seem to have grasped anything he just wrote, and merely used it as a platform to further your Zimmer fixation. In fact ,none of what you just wrote made much sense at all! It had no academic merit or content. It was the incoherent noise of a kid, to use your word. Exactly, how old are you, er, dude? BTW, I’m not anally obsessed with Mr. Williams, like so many seem to be with Mr. Zimmer. I don’t have posters of him on my bedroom wall, though I suspect some of… Read more »
FGL
Guest
Sebasitian, I think you misread what I wrote. I clearly stated that I do intend to utilize all the innovations in sound design, orchestration and approach to film music and further up on them. I have been lucky enough to work on a few of them this past year. What I meant of the ideals of John Williams and Goldsmith was meant with the sense of the artistry of it rather than the mass production and limited musical language (this comes into the notes themselves not the sounds or instrumentation which I think Hans Zimmer is genius at) of using… Read more »
Kauferman
Guest
Sebastian, let me start by saying that I do like some of Zimmers work, though few, I admit he has created some great scores. Modern Warfare theme, Prince of Egypt, Last Samurai and Black Hawk down.. However.. It’s honestly disgusting that you have the audacity to compare Mozart and Hans Zimmer. I would even go as far as to say you’ve lost your credibility with that sentence. Zimmer is no where near level of Mozart, at least doing his style of film composition and having others do much of the work for him. Not to mention being a so-so pianist.… Read more »
Mary Newland
Guest
Mr. Anderson. I couldn’t agree with you more. I am a vocalist and my husband is a composer and like you, understand and appreciate the level of excellence that Mr. Williams brings to a film score. Angela’s Ashes and Memoirs of a Geisha are 2 outstanding examples of his work. The art as such is going the way of the Do Do, I’m afraid. When Oscars are given to someone who played a series of guitar pieces without ever seeing a frame of picture, the art is certainly lost. Obviously, there is massive ignorance in what constitutes “score” Music is… Read more »
brian
Guest

if you really think “His Teutonic roots should really have placed him in a position of importance” than you should read this article:

http://www.jewishjournal.com/culture/article/hans_zimmer_proud_to_say_my_people

Counterweight
Guest
Hi William Anderson. I know it’s an old comment but i have to reply as you wrote my thoughts/opinions dead on. The modern digital technologies has made such a damaging impact to the filmindustry on a level it is almost indescribably. Not saying that it’s a constraint of the technology but it is the way it is being used. And Hans Zimmer has been probably the biggest catalyst to change the way the “writing”-process of filmscores is done nowadays. His succes and charm is undeniable indeed. Very likable man (of what i can tell from the interviews). I to have… Read more »
William Anderson
Guest

Excuse my typos. I make wrong notes, too…..;-)

Jluke
Guest

Curiously in the article where he talks about Hans best collaborators he doesnt appear one of his most important and long term one … Klaus Badelt… !

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Guest

how we so quickly forget about michael kamen, friend of Hans, I met Hans in notting Hill, London, was introduced to me by ex wife Vick..he seem a very nice chap…he sure did some excellent work after that meeting and have grown from Strength to strengh..good luck to him..I do like his work and also Michael Kamens as wella s John Williams..jimmy

Charles Catlow
Guest

Word, Mr. William Anderson! I worked with Hans Zimmer in the early 90s as a studio musician in the ARCO Studios in Munich Germany. I can confirm everything you wrote in your article! I will keep it shorter than you did, William: Hans Zimmer is the André Rieu of film music! Cheers!

Sebastian
Guest

@Charles Catlow – comparing Zimmer to Andre Rieu is not a compliment… Rieu is cheap and tacky -and especially among the classical elite. Hans Zimmer is comparable to Mozart or Beethoven.

Charles Catlow
Guest

Now that is not a compliment to Mozart or Beethoven, Sebastian! BTW: there are people out there who think that Rieu is a great violinist…

Desecrated
Guest

Another thing that zimmer does that pisses people of,and pleases producers, Is that he has no ego as a musician,
If I write a good melody I will insert it into a project and then it will stay there. I just can’t imagine reusing an old melody. My pride and ego prohibits me.

Hans doesn’t care. If it worked in that movie, it can work in this movie to.
I’ve heard bits and pieces of ‘the lion king’ in ‘the last samurai’ and so on. He does everything to get the job done, even if he has to reuse earlier ideas.

Nico G
Guest

Love this article… Have to agree with many of your points, Michael. I have worked with hand also for many years on and off… First in the UK in my youth a day then as employee #1 at Media Ventures! Yep, from the very early days in the 90’s…had the official screen credit of “Score Wrangler”… Have had many people say the same negative things about Hans… As I always say, you must be doing something right if you have this many haters and are still killing it! Thanks for the nit… Nico

LR
Guest

Eh.. he might be a good Hollywood schmoozer and get the job done (for crappy movies) but Hans’s music has always left me cold. He’s definitely no Alan Silvestri or Randy Edelman.

Hans Ophmyskorr
Guest

Lowering the bar in film scoring every day.

Dave Naves
Guest

thank you for posting this article… nicely done! my wife (a former *awesome* music editor worked with some of these talented people in your post) AND thank you *again* for posting the percussion session! (i’m a percussionist myself, and in my earlier years was also lucky enough to set up kits for a third of the guys featured in the vid) rock on!

Roland
Guest
Herr Zimmer certainly gets the job done and that is about the ticket. Of course, we should bear in mind that “Film” music has no real place of value beyond enhancing a visual art form and if it intrude, it is probably too good as music per se. Herr Zimmer should compose a symphony or a concerto, perhaps an Opera (maybe he has done this already) and then pundits can judge his composing prowess for real. In the meantime, collaborating with top performers and arrangers working jolly hard for endless hours (don’t we all?) for big bucks is absolutely fine.… Read more »
Dean Eaton
Guest

I wish I could say I’m a fan of Zimmer’s work, but alas… I do appreciate having some light shed on his working methods, however.

As it happens, I had Jerry Goldsmith’s score for “Planet of the Apes” on in the car today. The thing is a masterpiece and the hoops that he and Arthur Morton put the Fox Orchestra through are astounding. I am in awe of the work of Herrmann, Rozsa, Steiner and (latterly) Bronislau Kaper, Goldsmith, Williams and Howard Shore. Long live good film music!

Felix
Guest

Great piece, thanks for sharing. Still upset he missed out on Conception Academy award. And, have to say it…..he’s German, OF COURSE he works hard!

Gary Denton
Guest

I learned more from this article than I ever learned pouring over my Music theory books. I’m good enough at what I do without a Julliard degree, so why am I limiting myself with that millstone? SO WHAT? I can barely read notation, and I’m a so-so pianist. But I have a good ear, and I’m very good at my arrangements. Play to your strengths indeed 🙂
Thanks for this.

GoranGrooves
Guest

Nothing that lasts a long time happens by chance. He is where he is because he deserves it.

A Composer
Guest

It’s not true, if some one says others don’t have visionary, don’t deliver, not hard working hard, are not pleasant to work or not charming. I rather say some other composers and music creators can do much better and tremendously successful job. Only difference is most of the productions stick to cliche trends than trying new talents taking risk,even if it sounds promising and give much better results..

Sebastian
Guest
Seriously, I am so sick of hearing all these Zimmer haters!! There so frozen in time with the ‘golden era’ of film music that their shocked to see in 2013 – film music along with the rest of the world has progressed!! – I am shocked at how pathetic all the wingers keep salivating over the elderly citizen that is John Williams… – and harping on about sweet melodies and counterpoint…. (I feel like i’m in a mental home reading this crap!) You’re embarrassing! Stay in your basement, and better still cut the internet off – you’re scaring yourself and… Read more »
Michael A. Levine
Guest
While I am delighted this article is still getting interest so many months after I wrote it, I think the debate about the merits of HZ’s music somewhat misses the point. HZ, John Williams, Goldsmith, Herrmann, et al. achieved success because, first and foremost, they understood story. Some composers learn this intuitively. Most grow up around storytelling – Herrmann was a theater composer before scoring Citizen Kane, for example. Personally, I acted and wrote plays when I was young, and got my start composing pieces for dance companies. My advice to the younger guys here is to not simply focus… Read more »
Sebastian
Guest

Well said dude – so many people on writing on this page and dissing HZ know NOTHING about film/story or film making etc. Seriously – they might be good composers… but reading their words when it comes to film composition… is insulting! Perhaps it’s the whole ‘hipster’ fad… – kids just wanting to ‘hate’ – Bleugh!

Tina M Pearson
Guest

Insightful points about focus and outside-the-box creative problem-solving. Thanks for this. On a tangent, I was hoping to see that there were some women in this world, none noted in the list of names of talent in the article. Is it really still such a man’s world?

Michael A. Levine
Guest
It really is an overwhelming male world and I think it’s both mystifying and frustrating. Mystifying because I think the industry is more open to women composers than ever before, and frustrating because so few women take advantage of it. One of my great encouragers was Shirley Walker, who I believe also was the inspiration to many others. However, when she was ghosting The Black Stallion I think the sexism was so much more explicit. Now, it still exists, but it could also work in your favor. When I was at Remote, a friend gave me a hard time about… Read more »
MichaelLevine
Guest

In my haste, I left out Kathryn Bostic and Lily Haydn on my list of film composers who happen to be women. There are many more, of course. Kathryn is also African-American, another underrepresented group in the film composer world. It would be an interesting topic for another article as why film composing is such a white boys club and how it could be changed.

MichaelLevine
Guest

BTW, Lolita’s last name is correctly spelled Ritmanis. And I left out Nan Schwartz – and many others, I’m sure!

Al Gromer Khan
Guest

“… thejob that you wanted.” Who is “you”. To reduce music to an element that supports something else, something trivial, is, to me and my art, a sacrilege. I did it once when I urgently needed money. Now, fortunately I am in a position not to have to do it anymore. True art should stand independently and not be reduced to background noise for some Hollywood nonsense.

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Why Hans Zimmer Got The Job You Wanted (And You Didn’t)

I worked for Hans Zimmer for about 8 years, 5 of which were in a studio at Remote Control, his facility in Santa Monica. Since leaving Remote, many people have said to me, usually in a conspiratorial

Alan Racadag
Guest

Because he’s the composer America deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.

Marco Werba
Guest

Interesting point of view.

CELLINGTON
Guest
I guess many young composers including myself would rather spend time hating on popular composers rather than learning from them. No one says you have to be like Zimmer, but he is in his position because he does what HE does in a way that people like. It doesn’t have to always be about being better than another composer, but rather than making yourself to be someone that a client wants to work with. This article seems to sum up what it’s like in business. If you’re confident in your ability/talent, then don’t forget the rest (working well with others,… Read more »
Thomas Korn
Guest

William Anderson; I love you!

perer
Guest

“Zim zimma, who got the keys to my bimmer.

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