Today’s inspiration comes from my writing playlist. Relax, I’m not going to share my entire youtube playlist with you. In fact it wasn’t really the music itself that I found inspiring, but the composer.
I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks while I’m writing because (1) there are no lyrics begging me to sing along and totally forget about typing words and (2) they are specifically written to make you feel a certain emotion, which is great for getting me to write when I could use a little emotional charge to get me going.
(No, no I couldn’t. Well ok. La La…LAAAAA *glass breaks*)
As I was looking through my playlist, I noticed that I had a lot of music from a certain composer. Let’s see if you can guess who it is (come on, it’ll be fun). The soundtracks I have on my list by this composer include The Prince of Egypt, The Last Samurai, Pirates of the Carrabin, The Dark Knight, Gladiator and the opening song to Lion King.
Are you nerdy enough to know who I’m talking about? (I guess that should be whom not who, but I don’t want to sound that nerdy.)
If you said Hans Zimmer you are correct!
The thing I found so remarkable about Hans Zimmer isn’t just how awesome his music sounds or how successful he’s been: It’s how he creates his music that I find so amazing.
He uses a secret mix of the force, Harry Potter’s wand, and Gandalf’s staff.
(Come on Gandalf. You remember that one time your staff went missing…oh yeah that didn’t happen)
Ok, so it doesn’t involve all that (admit it though, it would be really cool if music were made that way).
What makes the way he creates his music so different is that he doesn’t use music notation for his work but computer software. Which might be a little more acceptable now, but wasn’t something that was done when he started. Why didn’t he just write music notes on a staff like all the other composers?
He can’t read music. At least not well enough to compose music by it.
What he did was courageous. Deciding to compose music when you’re not strong at sheet music is like someone who can’t read declaring that they are going to write a book. Then declaring that they aren’t going to learn to read either.
Well, that’s not going to happen.
(Um…I believe I already said that. I don’t need a backup singer. I’m a soloist!)
Or could it?
What if, while they couldn’t read books, they’d been listening to audiobooks? What if they couldn’t type words into a word document, but they could speak into a microphone and use a software that put the words down for them?
Writing a book when you don’t know how to read might be difficult, but it’s not impossible if you’re willing to be creative.
That is exactly what Hans Zimmer did. He was creative in how he came up with his music. People probably scoffed at the idea of creating orchestral music on a computer. They probably laughed at the idea of someone without a good grasp on sheet music composing music for movies.
(All those composers when they meet Hans Zimmer)
Hans Zimmer could have listened to them. He could have dropped his head and told himself not to even try. He wasn’t as educated in music theory as other successful composers. And if he couldn’t do it the traditional way, then he might as well go find a job at Wal-Mart (or whatever place like Wal-Mart they have in Germany).
But he refused to believe that the traditional way was the only way. He knew what he wanted to do and knew he could make it happen.
Because he didn’t let his lack of traditional skills stop him, he is a hugely successful Hollywood composer.
What we can take away from this is that just because we aren’t educated in writing in the traditional way doesn’t mean we are doomed to be horrible writers. We may not have a degree in literature or a job in journalism, but that doesn’t mean we can’t write. We may just have to learn about it in untraditional ways (books, youtube videos, and online articles). We may not be published by one of the big publishing companies, but choose to self-publish through Amazon.
If we can learn anything from Hans Zimmer, it’s that taking the traditional route isn’t always the only way to get where you want to go.
So be untraditional, be creative, do things your way and know it can make something amazing.
Then go listen to some Hans Zimmer.