How Hans Zimmer Conjured the Otherworldly Sounds of ‘Dune’


When the composer Hans Zimmer was approached to score “Dune,” the new movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel, he knew one thing absolutely: It would not sound like “Star Wars.” Musically, those films drew on influences that ranged from Holst and Stravinsky to classic movie scores of the ’30s and ’40s. Even the rollicking tune performed by the bug-eyed creatures in the Cantina was inspired by Benny Goodman.

For “Dune,” by contrast, Zimmer wanted to conjure sounds that nobody had ever heard before.

“I felt like there was a freedom to get away from a Western orchestra,” he said recently, speaking in the Warner Bros. offices overlooking Hudson Yards in New York. “I can spend days making up sounds.”

The resulting soundtrack might be one of Zimmer’s most unorthodox and most provocative. Along with synthesizers, you can hear scraping metal, Indian bamboo flutes, Irish whistles, a juddering drum phrase that Zimmer calls an “anti-groove,” seismic rumbles of distorted guitar, a war horn that is actually a cello and singing that defies Western musical notation — just to name a few of its disparate elements.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

To read a full profile of Hans Zimmer, visit the Saturday Paper.

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