Hear 9 Hours of Hans Zimmer Soundtracks: Dunkirk, Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight & Much More

No name has become more syn­ony­mous with the very con­cept of “movie music” than that of Hans Zim­mer. Begin­ning in the 1980s by com­pos­ing for such cult film­mak­ers of dis­tinc­tive vision as Jerzy Skolimows­ki, Nico Mas­torakis, and Nico­las Roeg, Zim­mer soon rose to Hol­ly­wood heights, cre­at­ing the scores for big hits like Rain ManThe Lion KingAs Good as It Gets, Glad­i­a­tor, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. In recent years, he has entered into an ongo­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with the direc­tor Christo­pher Nolan, him­self an indie favorite turned block­buster king, scor­ing his Bat­man movies as well as Incep­tionInter­stel­lar, and Nolan’s new World War II pic­ture Dunkirk, whose unusu­al son­ic inten­si­ty the Vox video above explains.

“My weak­ness is that I didn’t go to music school, and that my for­mal edu­ca­tion is two weeks of piano lessons,” Zim­mer told Indiewire a cou­ple years ago, after the release of Inter­stel­lar. “My strength is that I know how to lis­ten,” and “the way Chris Nolan and I work is we lis­ten to each oth­er.”

Unlike many pro­duc­tions where “the com­pos­er is this near­ly uncon­trol­lable ele­ment that comes into the film” and to whom the direc­tor must defer, Zim­mer starts work­ing on Nolan’s movies from the begin­ning, a process he describes as a con­ver­sa­tion: “While he was writ­ing, while he was shoot­ing, I was writ­ing, and the music was hap­pen­ing sort of in a — to use an Inter­stel­lar term — par­al­lel uni­verse, real­ly.” With no need for the dread­ed “temp score,” the dra­ma of Zim­mer’s music and Nolan’s sto­ries devel­op togeth­er.

You can hear the results of Zim­mer’s process in this nine-hour playlist, which includes Zim­mer’s work for Nolan’s films up to Dunkirk–its sound based in part on the tick­ing of a watch Nolan had giv­en him–and oth­ers besides. (The playlist also includes Zim­mer’s sound­tracks for Inter­stel­lar, Incep­tion, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Ris­es, Black Hawk Down, Sher­lock Holmes, Glad­i­a­tor, and The Thin Red Line.) If it leaves you with the desire to learn a bit more about how this instinc­tive mas­ter of movie music does it, have a look at the trail­er above for “Hans Zim­mer Teach­es Film Scor­ing,” his $90 course from the online edu­ca­tion­al plat­form Mas­ter­class. The very first piece of wis­dom he offers reflects the fact that his instinct for back-and-forth col­lab­o­ra­tion extends well beyond his part­ner­ship with Nolan to his view on the craft itself: “In music, you’re basi­cal­ly hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion” — with your artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tors, with your fel­low musi­cians, with any­one to whom you can lis­ten.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Known Uni­verse: The Hay­den Planetarium’s Tour of the Cos­mos Gets a Hans Zim­mer Sound­track

Hear 5 Hours of Ennio Morricone’s Scores for Clas­sic West­ern Films: From Ser­gio Leone’s Spaghet­ti West­erns to Tarantino’s The Hate­ful Eight

Why Mar­vel and Oth­er Hol­ly­wood Films Have Such Bland Music: Every Frame a Paint­ing Explains the Per­ils of the “Temp Score”

The Dark Knight: Anato­my of a Flawed Action Scene

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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