- Offers the perspective of a film composer who has scored over 100 feature films.
- Great content on creating your own themes
- Plenty of case studies from his own work
- Full refund if not satisfied after 30 days
- The course could be better organised and more concise
- We don’t ever see an actual score and it’s difficult to see what he’s doing on his DAW
- Lacks hands-on, practical information
What’s Included? Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring
- 31 Videos, 5 hours and 40 minutes of content
- A downloadable workbook with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
- Access to the entire Masterclass online learning library
Bottom Line: Hans Zimmer Masterclass Review
Without question, a course with something to learn for anyone interested in film scoring but it could be better organized.
For other reviews of online courses about music production, see here.
According to Hans Zimmer, the film industry is the last place left on earth that still commissions orchestral music on a daily basis. It is a rare haven where composers of all backgrounds can earn a living.
If you’re a tunesmith tired of earning .0000000000000001 percent per stream or a composer hacking your way through a crowded, underfunded classical music realm, the film industry has a draw.
But how does one get started?
The Hans Zimmer Masterclass course on film scoring is a glimpse into this world and its workings.
You follow the process of storytelling through music with one of the top working composers in Hollywood. Some of Hans’ credits include: Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean, Interstellar, Sherlock Holmes, Gladiator, and Dune.
Who is this course for?
This course is aimed at composers at songwriters interested in film music or anyone in the film industry who might be curious about what music brings to film.
Who this course is not for?
The course is not suited to people wanting to learn the basics of composition or electronic music production. Its focus is instead on storytelling through music.
The Best Bits
The Best Bits | The Value of Perspective
Everyone will tell you a career in the arts is a bad idea. Our economic system will not reward you for choosing a career in music. For this reason, the perspective of leaders in the field is even more valuable.
You need to know what you’re getting into so that you might have the resolve to stay the course.
The undeniable value on offer here is the perspective we can glean from Hans Zimmer, someone who has written scores for over 100 feature films. That perspective, whether you agree with him or not, holds value simply because of the time he has put into the field.
The videos toward the end of the course entitled “Life of a Composer” were highlights. Hans speaks candidly about making a career as a film composer. To begin with, he says, “Here’s my lesson: it’s a terrible career move.”
He goes on to say:
The talented people I know, they usually do it despite everybody’s good advice. If you say to them, it’s a bad idea, they’ll do it anyway and out of ugliness create beauty. It’s that recklessness which I think it takes to manifest talent
The Best Bits | Creating your own themes
In general, I found the parts of the course where he discusses composition in detail the most compelling. Hans takes us through the arts of creating themes, learning by listening, and creating your own style.
In the first section on themes, Hans says, “Figure out how to find the simplest thing to set the thing in motion” He improvises question and answer phrases and shows how with the simplest of note combinations, we can create the inflections of conversation. These conversations tell a story.
This active creation of music and the breaking down of his process is inspiring. Using examples from his work, he shows us some of his themes and how he created them.
Creators of music need to be constantly reminded of how to create.
At one point Hans says, “Part of the problem with music is you don’t really know where it comes from.” He’s afraid to take vacations from writing because he’s afraid he’ll forget how to do it.
The themes part of the course is a reminder that all composers and songwriters at some point need: fundamental tips on how to combine notes and rhythms to produce musical themes.
More Coherent and Concise
The course is supposed to provide insight into the life of a composer in Hollywood, and it provides that in spades. But the insights could be more easily be more concise.
The organization of the syllabus is wanting. There is a sense that they shot this thing in a day and the editors had to jam the conversations under some intelligible titles and subheadings in post-production.
The conversations are broken into separate videos, for example, “Working with Directors Pt 1” and then further broken down into subheadings within that video, for example, “Some Conversations are for the Producer”, “Begin Collaborating Before Filming Begins” and so forth. Oftentimes, the subheadings are not that relevant to what he’s saying.
More Hands-on Sessions Please
Unfortunately, a lot of Hans Zimmer’s stories would only apply to a composer working with a massive budget who had arrangers and orchestrators on-hand. As one of a small handful of composers writing for feature films, he is speaking from a very privileged position.
Composers just starting out are trying to throw their notes at anyone who will play them. They have to do everything themselves. With a little more thought, it seems Hans could have provided a couple more practical sessions for these poor souls.
Something more hands-on, where he shows us the notes and how it breaks down on an actual score doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
Full desktop please
When he does start to get his hands dirty, he’s working with material on his computer with Cubase. Sadly, a lot of the shots of his screen are too far away to make sense of what he’s doing. When he turns knobs in the synth section, for example, I want to see the details.
Is it worth it?
The latest details of the Masterclass price plans can be found here.
The real benefit of Masterclass is that membership includes all classes and new courses are added every month. The Hans Zimmer Masterclass has some great value but is probably not worth the price of the all-access pass by itself.
That said, if there are other courses in the library that are worth it for you, then it might be worth a try. If you’re not satisfied after 30 days, Masterclass will issue a full refund
In the musical category, the library includes:
- Danny Elfman teaches Film Music
- Armin Van Buuren teaches Dance Music
- Tom Morello teaches Guitar
- Itzhak Perlman teaches Violin
- Timbaland teaches Producing and Beatmaking
- Christina Aguilera teaches Singing
- Herbie Hancock teaches Jazz
- Nas teaches HipHop Storytelling
- Deadmau5 teaches Electronic Music Production
Outside of music, you can learn cooking with Gordon Ramsay, storytelling and humor with David Sedaris, filmmaking with Martin Scorsese, poker from Daniel Negreanu, screenwriting with Aaron Sorkin, leadership with Bill Clinton, and so on…
Alternatives to the Hans Zimmer Masterclass
As you can see above, Masterclass has several related courses, the two most obvious being:
If you’re looking for more practical advice on film scoring, this course from another huge name in the film industry is recommended.
Elfman gives real, hands-on examples on Spotting Sessions, Sound Templates in his DAW, and details about his instrumentation with real instruments and synths.
And, we a full-screen view of his desktop so you don’t miss a detail.
Another course on offer at Masterclass, this one focussed on electronic music creation, comes highly recommended. It offers excellent content on core content creation and synth sounds, all created before your eyes with a full-screen view of his workflow.
Click here for our full review.
For great ideas on composition in general, I would recommend this book by Alan Belkin.
This is one of the best-written, easy-to-digest, books out there. His ideas on the fundamentals of music creation, make this book a resource you will keep returning to.
Without question, the Hans Zimmer course offers a perspective on film scoring that would be of value to anyone interested in film music. But it could be better organized, more concise, and it could include more practical content.
Considering the other courses on offer in the library, and the fact you can get your money back if you don’t like it, it’s still worth it.
How much does the course cost?
The most up-to-date price on the course can be found here.
Can I purchase the course individually?
At the time of this review, you could only purchase an all-access membership, not individual courses.
Is there a refund policy for the course?
Yes, if you’re not satisfied after 30 days, Masterclass will issue a full refund
Which software does Hans Zimmer use?
Hans works exclusively with Steinberg’s Cubase in this course.
What is the best DAW for film scoring?
The most popular DAWs for film scoring are Logic Pro X and Steinberg’s Cubase. They both come with huge sample libraries and can handle all things MIDI and audio.
ProTools is the traditional favorite for analog audio and is often used in the workflow of film composers.
That said, there are a lot of great DAWS out there that will work for film scoring. It’s more about how you use the DAW and what fits your workflow.
Questions or Comments?
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