A few years ago Hila recorded a bunch of solo vocals for the film The Da Vinci Code. We spent a week or so in London while she recorded, and I got the chance to talk quite a bit with Hans Zimmer. He’s incredibly nice, and funny, and very, very generous with his time.
One of the things we talked about was his approach to writing orchestral scores for films, like Gladiator. I told him how jealous I was that he was able to get such a massive sound out of his orchestras, and he just laughed. He explained that his ‘orchestras’ are always a mix of acoustic instruments and samples, seamlessly blended, and that blend combined with extensive multi-tracking makes for a sound that really can’t exist in the real world. Those horns from Gladiator? All samples, layered and layered, and all close-mic recorded. It would probably take a horn section of 24-30 players to replicate that on a concert stage.
I haven’t seen the new Sherlock Holmes yet, but I just found this, and was reminded again of the power of his approach. Real instruments, mixed with samples, and even in it’s ‘chamber ensemble’ moments it just sounds massive.
Here’s the cool ‘music video’ of the Sherlock Holmes theme: