Do yourself a wonderful favour. Stop reading this article and watch the video below to listen to, simply put, one of the best modern pieces of film music:
At 24 years old, I was a budding composer writing as many parts to the songs I brought in for my band members that they would allow. More and more I began to envision these songs as evolving, complex pieces that bordered on epic rock opera…at least that’s what I believed 🤤.
One night, while plunking around, alone at my Fender Rhodes, I decided to take a break and pop in a dvd my friend recommended. What was intended to be a short break (I don’t mind watching movies in sections) turned into a two hour plus emotional rollercoaster. The movie was “The Last Samurai”
and no doubt the intriguing characters, excellently performed by talented actors, the beautiful scenery, primarily of Japan and it’s rolling hills and delicate flora, and the spot-on story of shame and redemption all greatly contributed to the overall onslaught on my soul. However, as the credits rolled, it fully dawned on me that it was in fact the score that glued everything together and fundamentally shook me that night. The emotive power that rang out of the orchestra, the booming hits underlying the battle scenes, laden with heavy artillery and calvary charges, the soft string sections squeezing every last bit of sadness and sweetness I was willing to give up; I was completely blown away.
That was the day I knew I wanted to be a film composer.
Fast forward several years and there I was again, neglecting my ever present pile of music tasks in favour of a night out with my soon to be wife. We were halfway through the cinematic triumph of “Interstellar ”
when it hit me again. “This is the music I crave. This is what I should be doing!” I screamed loudly inside my head. This was the music of reality; a collection of sounds trying it’s hardest to encompass all the tension, the fear, the joy and just plain jaw dropping beauty that is to be alive.
It was that evening I finally learned the name Hans Zimmer.
Instead of reiterating what has been written about Mr. Zimmer’s life, I’ll refer you to these articles that contain all the standard data: Hans Zimmer Wikipedia
My only goal in this article is to express how much his music has affected me in the hopes that if you have not had the privilege of truly listening to, this might compel you to do so.
I don’t know if Hans Zimmer is the father of this style of music nor can I even tell you if it is a definitive style or genre itself. All I know if his use of ostinato (is a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice, frequently in the same pitch – Wikipedia) is breathtaking. The main theme of Interstellar (the first link at the top) is a prime example and can immediately sweep up my mind and carry it off into the majestic void that is the tremendous unknown of space.
It is precisely this use of fairly simple melodies, repeating throughout a piece, underpinned by deeply layered strings and other parts of the orchestra with intense crescendos and lingering decrescendos that sets my soul on fire.
Simply put; Hans Zimmer is a brilliant warrior poet whose music can completely take over your being and the only negative aspect is when the experience relents and you turn back to the silence that greets us all eventually.
Mr. Zimmer…thank you for efforts and your brilliance, and thank all the chance and randomness that led me down the path to pop “the Last Samurai” into my dvd player that night. My life will never be the same because of it.