AUD210 - Blog 2 - Hans Zimmer

This AUD210 series belongs to an assessment from college.

When we think of film scores, it's not uncommon to lean towards orchestral music. Behind the scenes documentaries in film music generally cover a brief part of the production process, narrowing it down to interviews with the composer and a sneak peak of the recording studio hosting an orchestral performance. But what about electronic music--where does it stand in storytelling? Isn't it a genre that belongs only to the dance floor? 

The tendency of interpreting electronic music as dance music comes from its widespread influence in pop culture, night clubs, as well its iconic instrument: the synthesiser. However, there is predominant application of synthesis in storytelling, too. Composers like Howard Shore, James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer are amongst many musicians who guide us into fantastic worlds. In this post, I'll be focusing on Hans Zimmer.

Hans Zimmer is an academy award-winning composer whose remarkable soundtracks include The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception, and many more. He has a peculiar way of making music that particularly interests me, by seamlessly interchanging between synthesisers and live orchestras. One example of this approach is the Inception soundtrack. In an interview, Hans Zimmer speaks about creating the mood electronically first, and then presenting it to the orchestra and having the musicians "synthesise" the music. 

While being a classical music aficionado, I must recognise that, when rightfully executed, synthesis acts like an orchestra's best friend: it supports messages and feelings that sometimes the orchestra alone cannot convey. When film was born, it was silent--well, not entirely if you consider the projector's self noise and the accompanying piano--, and as technology progressed, change was introduced: sound. At first, the audience was in awe about it despite the critics opposite reaction. Directors like Charlie Chaplin were startled as "it would steal the artistic performance of the actors and actresses". Indeed, adapting to change is often challenging, especially when it directly or indirectly menaces an existing and natural art form, such as the case between electronic music and classical music. The way I see it, electronic music is not attempting to demote the orchestral, the human side of film scores. Rather, electronic music in storytelling is but a complementary art form, as sound was when it was introduced to the public in 1927. 


UPDATE: Here's an example of a piece of music where Hans Zimmer uses synthesisers. It actually begin in 0:12.