Discussion in 'Composition, Orchestration & Technique' started by Studio E, May 15, 2018.
It's more like an interview than a masterclass but I found lots of useful nuggets.
There are interesting nuggets to be found in this masterclass indeed but when it comes to learning about film scoring, nothing comes close to JunkieXL Studio Time. There, I didn't get nuggets only but a full featured course that had me pause many times just to try out what Tom was talking about.
It may also be due to the fact that I may not be the target audience for a "master" class.
On average a classical musician goes to music school (can be 2, 3, or even 8 years) then conservatory, - 4 years,
then academy 5 years, then when getting the diplom, we can say he or she is an artist.
That is the time when they use to go to some masterclass.
I wanted to try and describe the class and you nailed it. I'm a rookie and for me, to get insight on everything from how to build out a tune to what a director expects and everything in between was phenomenal. Every couple months I listen through it again while commuting (I had signed up a week before it was released) and it never gets old. The Question and Answer composing in the beginning was worth price of admission for me.
I would say this would benefit most folks that are new or up and coming. If you have written and sold scores and work fairly steady in the industry you probably needed bother, although any class like this usually has something you can glean.
A piece of paper does not an artist make.
hehe - sorry about my grammar, I mean after all those years, talented musicians use to take masterclasses.
It's not about the diplom, but the time spent on education and practicing.
(Even an autodidact, good artist is spending a lot of time to get the skill.)
I want to thanks for wickedw mentioning Christian Henson!
I just went there and enjoying his videos and his style.
What are you talking about? I watched that class, went upstairs, wrote a score and sold it to Spielberg. Darn tootin that diploma makes me an artist. Wait, what's that noise?? Oh, my alarm clock went off... time to get up...
People say it's not technical enough because it's not. I think a lot of people were expecting something like JXLs Studio Time because the ad made it seem like that. And of course he talks about music, can you imagine a HZ masterclass where he doesn't talk about music, what is he going to teach you, how to cook?
If we had something like HZ Studio Time, that would definitely help a lot people.
Yeah, would be cool in general to have something like Mix-with-the-masters for composers, where they take a deeper look into their projects and solutions
I guess I’m mindful of the fact Hans may not have wanted to show you how to write music like him . Not due to a wish to guard his secrets but rather from a position of helping you to find your own voice and solutions as he has . The analogies with cooking shows I feel are misplaced as we don’t want to recreate Hans's soufflés . We just need to gain understanding and confidence to try our own recipes . In that I really think he’s done a superb job .
Too bad it wasn't advertised like that. BTW In the kitchen a lot of ingredients are open to taste, every chef has their own seasoning so I think it's a good analogy.
I found it to be very insightful. I came away from it with more confidence to follow my instincts, to trust my collaborators and the collaborative and artistic process, and for me that was just as valuable as a technical masterclass. Some of the best lessons take this form. It helped me to look at music making, especially collaborative music making , through new lenses. It was also gratifying and reassuring to hear some of my own thoughts and fears echoed by HZ. Honestly I felt it helped me unload, or at least better understand, my creative baggage, and in turn I feel like a better composer and a better communicator. Not trying to overblow things, this is just what I got out of it.
All of which to say - Get it, set your expectations aside, and go along for the ride
I think Zimmer did not want to share his writing process because it may be very personal and even painful thing for him at times. Instead he chose more general topics which are more comfortable for him to share. Of course "Masterclass" from a "Composer" means lessons in composition and not in "talking to directors". I doubt Zimmer himself ever attended any masterclasses and it is possible he simply did not know what word "Masterclass" would mean for the his potential customers. Live and learn.
Hehe! scoring a movie is maybe 25% about writing music. Tops. It's about 50% figuring out the film, 25% writing music, and 25% desperately grinding away at logistical tasks as deadlines catch up (or using a large team to help you).
An LA mentor taught me this three part mantra for scoring: Help the director make his story mean something to the audience.
Help the director: music serves the film. The composer is not there to show off musical talent. The director's vision is the movie.
Make the story mean something: Music doesn't tell the story, it makes the story feel like more than what you just see. Music is subtext made concrete. Music that's not drawing on subtext is just duplicating the action. Music can't be enlisted in the task of "fixing the movie" (e.g. making jokes work).
To the audience: You have to know the correlations between what musical devices create what associations or emotions for the audience. This, if anything, is the only part where "being good at writing music" comes into play. You don't modulate for the sake of modulating but because you know how a modulation will affect the mood, the nuance of what's playing on screen.
There's a lot of "meh" music that's great scoring.
So, to bring that back to HZ's scores, a lot of the smartness (I hesitate to say genius, LOL) is big picture. The 50% that's "figuring out the film."
Sherlock Holmes has been adapted how many times now? And each time there's some genteel Edwardian violin theme because, of course, Holmes is an intellectual and plays the violin! (Patrick Gowers's theme is terrific btw)
But along comes Guy Ritchie and clearly the character is totally different for him. He's putting all these pieces together... like: oh shit. Sherlock Holmes is about class. The conflict between an incredibly class-driven society, England in the 1890s, and Sherlock Holmes who just doesn't want to fit in. He's an upper class dude, Oxford accent and monographs, and he should be conforming to Edwardian norms but instead he's living the Bohemian life. Cocaine. Up at all hours, has some kind of mania. Confirmed bachelor. Dresses up as a variety of lower-caste stock characters, at least 50% for the fun of shocking Watson every time he comes home dressed as a longshoreman or cook. His resentment of Lestrade, fascination with Adler, and feud with Moriarty are all fundamentally about class. Lestrade is the class-conscious bootlicker who gets to take the credit for Holmes' work because he's the "proper authority"; Adler has unexpected street smarts that contradict her "ladylike" exterior; and Moriarty is the "Napoleon of Crime" who maintains a posh facade while secretly controlling all kinds of street vice; in other words he's like the opposite of Holmes in class terms. And hence the scruffy, tic-driven, street smart, combat capable Sherlock Holmes of Guy Ritchie & RDJr's adaptation. So for this adaptation it's like: of course. Not Schubert sonatas, it's a Roma violin. Bring out the hurdy gurdy, the cimbalom, the Experibass. And it's not a pastiche or comedy or recitation of musical stereotypes; in a way the energy & verve of it makes this Holmes a lot more authentic than he otherwise would be.
If that thinking... or something vaguely along these lines... had not preceded the "actually writing the music" part, the score just would not have worked. At least, this is my spitballed guess at how the score's main ideas came about. I have not bought the master class so... I may have just made a total fool of myself!! Would be very interested to know if HZ talks about films in this figuring-out-the-characters way at all in his class. That would be so much more useful than talking about notes and chords.
I absolutely love your description here, because it precisely captures the value of what I got from Hans’ masterclass (which may be very different to what others got). As a scientist, not a musician, I was often relating Hans’ advice to my own situation, and using the orchestra as a metaphor to a scientific team (could be any team-based interaction). I can draw direct parallels (I won’t here, it’ll bore you silly) to objectives we have in working in medicine, the team-interaction required and the patient as the ‘audience’, and I find the metaphor really revealing and illuminating.
Thanks for spelling it out like this: you condensed Hans’ message across 31 videos into what I’ll now use as a single PowerPoint slide to get the point across to non-musicians, for whom the film score is ‘just background’ (or at least, they think it is!).
Well you know what they say, "those that can do, do those that can't teach, those that can't do or teach become producers : )
You just described the HZ class in a nutshell. He goes into that in depth then repeats it over and over again: You have to have a tune, you have to help tell the story and it's you and the director at the end of the day.
I'm just getting to the end of it right now and absolutely love it. The man is a genius in my opinion. Who'd of thought that the guy that got less than 10 seconds of screen time in Video Killed the Radio Star would become the biggest rock star in film music. Listening to him talk reminds me of me except he's successful, has talent, know words with more than 2 syllables and is entertaining as hell. The only thing that bugged me was the squeaky chair.
Hans... boobie... (get it? from Die Hard?) You're rich. Get a chair that doesn't squeak...
So in summation...
I learned more about life than I did about what comes after an Am chord... and I love him for that. Thank You Master Zimmer for the best masterclass ever.
It would be even more interesting if he talks about both.
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