The Caped Crusaders Composers: Hans Zimmer - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Caped Crusaders Composers: Hans Zimmer

With "Bat-Hans, dinner-dinner-dinner-dinner Bat-Hans" ringing in his head, Chris Morley explores the work of another Caped Crusaders composer.
Our last look at the Caped Crusaders composers took in Tim Burton & Danny Elfman's big screen Batman collaboration. Now we turn to Christopher Nolan & Hans Zimmer reinventing the Dark Knight once more across a trilogy of well received movies.

Born in what was then West Germany, Bat-Hans' initial formal music lessons lasted just a fortnight. As he told Reddit
"My formal training was two weeks of piano lessons. I was thrown out of eight schools. But I joined a band. I am self-taught. But I've always heard music in my head. And I'm a child of the 20th century; computers came in very handy."
His parents were also in their own ways influential on Hans' early attempts at music-making, Ennio Morricone's score for Once Upon A Time In The West merely sealing the deal on moving into film scoring.
"My mother was very musical, basically a musician and my father was an engineer and an inventor. So I grew up modifying the piano, shall we say, which made my mother gasp in horror, and my father would think it was fantastic when I would attach chainsaws and stuff like that to the piano because he thought it was an evolution in technology. My father died when I was just a child, and I escaped somehow into the music and music has been my best friend."
Moving into playing keyboards, Hans also worked with the Buggles - indeed he can briefly be spotted in the video for the perhaps ironically titled Video Killed The Radio Star from 1979...

The following year saw him co-produce History Of The World Part 1 with the Damned before moving into film scoring, initially alongside Stanley Myers. A brief detour to play keyboards on 1985's Doctor In Distress, the ill-judged Doctor Who charity single (and something Hans probably doesn't include on his resume too often) was soon forgotten when he got his first big solo break scoring Rain Man.
"It was a road movie, and road movies usually have jangly guitars or a bunch of strings. I kept thinking don't be bigger than the characters. Try to keep it contained. The Raymond character doesn't actually know where he is. The world is so different to him. He might as well be on Mars. So, why don't we just invent our own world music for a world that doesn't really exist?"

By the time he got to Driving Miss Daisy, the synths he'd deployed alongside steel drums on Rain Man were augmented with samplers (the piano heard on that particular score actually the work of a Roland MKS-20). This would carry over into his work across the Dark Knight films, not wanting to replicate what had gone before and collaborating with James Newton Howard to eventually come up with two hours & twenty minutes of music for Batman Begins alone. Zimmer tackled the action sequences as Howard worked on the drama, in-line with Nolan's original vision for the film.
"Doing the origins story of the character, which is a story that's never been told before. The world of Batman is that of grounded reality. It will be a recognizable, contemporary reality against which an extraordinary heroic figure arises."
This was in turn inspired by the 1989 comic story The Man Who Falls - the scene of young Bruce Wayne falling down a dry well lifted directly from the source material & also adapted for Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. A simple two-note main theme was used to represent the pain & guilt as felt by Batman himself, as carried over to The Dark Knight, Nolan given an Ipod with around ten hours of music for the second film in the series, and Zimmer debuting another two-note theme for the Joker as part of the suite Why So Serious? James Newton Howard was also back by his side & handled the music for Two-Face, mostly using a brass section by way of a complete contrast.

After overcoming initial hesitancy to return for a third film Christopher Nolan was eventually back behind the camera after coming up with a good enough story in collaboration with brother Jonathan & David S Goyer. Inspired by The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall (the comic book introduction of Bane) and No Man's Land, The Dark Knight Rises premiered in 2012...
“The key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story [...] rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story [...] Unlike the comics, these things don't go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is useful. Viewing it as an ending, that sets you very much on the right track about the appropriate conclusion."
Zimmer was left without a second pair of hands for the music as Newton Howard chose not to come back, not wanting to be a third wheel of sorts after Hans had worked with Nolan on Inception-. Speaking about his departure Newton Howard said
"I just really felt that I had made what I felt like I could contribute to that series, and I always felt that... Hans... was the mastermind of those scores. I mean, they really sounded the way they sounded because of him.

His conception of the scores was really brilliant. It's not that I didn't add a lot, I did, but I don't think I added the aspects of the music that really defined the character of those movies."
Central to the score was the chanted phrase deshi basara, meaning rise up as translated from Arabic. As Hans explained...
"The chant became a very complicated thing because I wanted hundreds of thousands of voices, and it's not so easy to get hundreds of thousands of voices. So, we tweeted and we posted on the internet, for people who wanted to be part of it. It seemed like an interesting thing. We've created this world, over these last two movies, and somehow I think the audience and the fans have been part of this world. We do keep them in mind."

And while that was a new development, Zimmer also returned to his recurring cues
"I thought if we set up a couple of things you can recognise in a second from right at the beginning, like the ostinato, the little bubbling string figure, when he’s coming, when we get to the moment in the movie when he’s actually going to appear, you’d hear that stuff and really get excited. It was as simple as that. I wanted some little symbolic motifs that would signal to the audience that really, honestly, it is going to happen."
And happen it did! Next time for us, though, it's a trip back to the original attempt at a Batman film in 1966 for a look into the possible original Riddler... Nelson.

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