Inspirations 4: Hans Zimmer

Is there a commercial composer anywhere that isn't inspired by Hans Zimmer? Whether you like his music or not, the man's work ethic is inspirational in itself. I'm a firm believer that success comes to those who work hard, and I think there are very few exceptions to this rule, particularly in the film and music industries.

I don't really remember when I first became aware of Hans Zimmer's music - he gradually came into my consciousness somewhere during my teenage years with Batman Begins and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise - and from then on I was something of a fan. Zimmer's music is hard to miss if you watch films with any sort of regularity, thanks to his prolific output and passion for collaboration.

I think his high turnover sometimes means that he has become vulnerable to accusations that his work lacks originality; there are scores like Man of Steel where I'd agree that this may be the case, but more often than not he produces scores that are very special indeed.

My favourite Zimmer score - and indeed, probably my favourite film score ever - is the one for Inception, Christopher Nolan's fantastical, dreamland thriller. HZ manages to create a distinctive ethereality in the sound-world for the whole film, which for me is the key to this score's success. 

'Old Souls' (above as bonus track 'Dark Mal') encapsulates everything I love about Hans Zimmer. You hear the track and you're instantly transported into Cobb and Mal's limbo world, as Zimmer skilfully and tastefully combines synth elements with orchestral sounds, as is his hallmark. Whenever I've spoken to or read things by people who've worked with Zimmer, one thing that they often mention is that he is a highly skilled 'spotter' - in other words, knowing exactly where music should go in a film, and what sort of music it should be. 'Old Souls' is a perfect example of this - everything in this cue tells us that we're in a world different from our own. With the sparse, spacious pads, the delicate piano melody, or the slow pesante string chords in the background, this combination of sounds and textures is wonderfully judged.

As I mentioned at the start, Zimmer is a passionate collaborator, consistently seeking other composers and musicians to work with, in order to elevate his work to new levels (and possibly also to lessen the workload on himself). The man himself repeatedly mentions how highly he values collaboration in interviews and so on, and I couldn't agree more. It has frequently been my experience that working with one or more other people on a creative project lifts my work to a different plane - taking on characteristics that would never have developed if I were to work alone. As such, I'm always interested in opportunities to do so - if you have a cool idea and want to work on it with another creative mind, get in touch

In the meantime, let's keep writing, keep practising, and keep inspired. Thanks for reading (if you've made it this far), please share this with friends if you've enjoyed what you've read, and hopefully I'll see you next Friday.