Saturday, July 29, 2023

Hans Zimmer: Hollywood Rebel

Watched this documentary called Hans Zimmer: Hollywood Rebel a few weeks ago. I recorded it from the TV broadcast. Watched it a few times since.

A segment from it:

I knew of Hans Zimmer quite early, as he was a customer of the Fairlight Instruments CMI I was involved in manufacturing then designing, but I see I really hadn't followed or seen all the movies he has done. I did see DUNE Part 1 in the cinema here, but all I remember was how loud some of it was!  Re-watching the DVD has been a different experience. 

One of the reasons he became one of "the" Hollywood composers is that producers and directors like talking to him. His manner/personality is very relatable. If he had been withdrawn, he would not have had the same success, no matter how great a composer he was. 

Have found his documentary quite inspiring. Play is important. The techniques he came up with, the rather "simple" approaches. A pulse for time, using only 2 or 3 notes, building by adding layers and repeating, octave notes rather than chords and sound design. He won an Academy Award for a soundtrack that is obviously Heavy Metal Guitars, Bagpipes and a women screaming at you, and that is really something.

He started very early with the "do it all with synthesizers myself" , of the home music producer. He gave the directors his "quick synth demos", and they didn't have to wait for it to be recorded with an orchestra, like most other composers did.  All very normal for us home recording people in 2023.

Han's success didn't come without a cost though.  This part was particularly unexpected. 

Hans soundtracks are said to be more textural than melodic. Been listening to the DUNE Part 1 soundtrack. Not the music only soundtrack, but the DVD with the sound effects and dialog.  Does all suite the movie, no doubt about it, but I do like a John Williams melody. 

I use much of the same techniques myself compositionally for my few soundtracks. Everything is ad libbed play. Nice to know it really works, and isn't just an unsophisticated hack I stumbled across by myself.

Have made an album of 11 (at the time of writing this blog post) very short soundtrack like themes, and put it on Bandcamp.


I have also made a few animations using these, such as this one.

All for my own entertainment of course. Not world changing in anyway, but I like them and that is all that really matters.

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