The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack & Sound Design

The latest episode of the SoundWorks Collection takes a look at the process of creating the soundtrack and the sound design of The Dark Knight Rises.

The video features the sound and music team for The Dark Knight Rises, including composer Hans Zimmer and Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designer Richard King.

Watch out for a great breakdown of the sound design elements of the ‘Batwing’.

The highlight, though, is Zimmer’s discussion of his monster Moog modular synthesizer. The ‘chap in Berlin’ he mentions is Gert Jalass, creator of the amazing Moon Modular synth modules.


23 thoughts on “The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack & Sound Design

  1. Great work of a great professionals. But the movie…is it for 14-15 y.o. kids? Because, you know, it’s a kid’s theme – heroes fighting with an evil, but there’re too much violence in a movie, i do not understand how it works together

    1. It is clear that Hans Zimmer writes music for mentally challenged people t hat can only tolerate four chords, one for each bar, playe with strings and brass.

    1. really? if it were “a few ostinatos” why would people like christopher nolan keep using him? people frequently cuss zimmer – whether it’s because he “doesn’t do it all himself” or it’s “too produced” or “too synthetic” or other nonsense. fact is, the dude has taken film score production to an entirely new level, and brought several other amazing composers up through the ranks at media ventures / remote control- harry gregson-williams, john powell, steve jablonsky, henry jackman, etc. etc.

      1. Yeah, I see your point, but, you know, with this kind of money, any music school teacher can do this, really… Musically and harmonically speaking, Zimmer is very weak compared to guys like John Williams, for example.
        MUSICALLY SPEAKING it’s not “taking film score production to an entirely new level” at all, it’s on the other side really disappointing. Ok, it’s a maybe a “new level” in terms of business and money-making for these guys, but not in terms of musical quality (to my humble opinion, for sure). It sounds like it’s written by robots, counter-creative and (really) incredibly simple to write (any serious music student will tell you that). Sure, it fits the the director’s intentions (and that’s why these guys are still employed by these kind of filmmakers, ‘cuz they don’t get in the way), but I am convinced these intentions are very mainstream and commercial.
        Being a million seller is not, and never has been, a quality proof, it’s just the proof that your marketing guys are good. The main example for that is that this movie really sucks (have you seen it, btw ?)^^
        And the minute after you have these guys parading and arguing on how their work is awesome and so on… It’s a bit irritating, i’m sorry.
        I’m not saying I hate Zimmer or anything, I just think it’s not worth all that fuss.
        Hope I made my point, my english is rusted.

        1. i agree with a lot of what you’re saying. when i said “film score production” i specifically meant production, not music. i agree that john williams, ennio morricone, and many others can be musically more interesting than zimmer but he comes up with instantly recognisable themes (not a small thing) , and the production is a light year ahead of almost anyone else. the main riff of batman is essentially two notes, but what he does with it is what’s amazing.

          what i disagree with is that anything he does is easy. in my time, i’ve met many many music students, teachers and even composers who say “oh, anyone can do that, it’s just x,y,z”. i’ve heard this about writing hit pop songs, film music, trailer music, in fact in almost every genre you care to mention in almost every case, when asked to do so, the people who say it’s easy don’t even come close to being able to do it. if most music school teachers could do this, they probably wouldn’t be music school teachers.

          there is a reason hans zimmer is where he is. and very little of it is to do with “marketing”. you think christopher nolan, michael bay and ridley scott would settle for sub-standard music that any student or music teacher could write & produce based on the hype surrounding a composer? think about gladiator without the score (admittedly he may have nicked bits of it from holst) or inception without the score, or the opening sequence of the second batman movie (the bank heist bit)

          haven’t seen the movie, but have listened to the soundtrack. the previous one with james newton howard was better.

          1. Yeah, not anything he does is simple, but most of it, and personally I’ve got no problem with simplicity, but what bothers me is that this guy publicly thinks he’s the new mozart of cinema, and that’s not the case. About its “themes” (which you admit to be generally composed of two notes 😉 ) : think about it, a very bad artist is also very easily recognizable, that’s not making him good. Personally, I recognize a Katy Perry song when I hear one, and I still think it’s a pile of shit (according to my taste).
            And yes, I can imagine gladiator or batman with another (and better) music.

            1. Dude, I don’t mean to be offensive but “two notes” is not called “a theme”, it is called … “two notes” …
              I’m not really a fan of Zimmer’s work on this one niether (I liked what he did on Inception a lot however)

              1. you’re not being offensive at all.

                actually, two notes can be a theme. the fact that he can turn two notes into a recognisable motif says something about his production skills (which is all i was trying to say). and for the record, i didn’t say his themes were generally two notes

                i’m finding this whole debate a little odd, to be honest. i’m not even a particular fan, and i certainly don’t think he’s the mozart of anything, but i think it’s undeniable that he has “something” that a number of highly regarded film directors think works for their movies. to deny his production skills and put it all down to his “marketing” of himself is self-evidently idiotic.

                it’s more that every once in a while, a comment on one of these threads riles me. my guess is that the person saying “it’s a few ostinatos” or “a music student could do it” has never come within a thousand miles of a major movie score, and hasn’t the faintest idea what’s involved. i know a few composers, orchestrators and tracking engineers who’ve worked on these kind of productions, i’ve even worked on a couple myself, and there’s nothing remotely simple about them. everyone involved has to be at the top of their game, and if they’re not, they don’t last long.

              2. The ultimate argument ^^ “I know what I”m talking about, cos I work in the industry”… Well, big deal, me too, we just don’t have the same view of the job. And don’t forget we are just commenting this (somewhat) crappy video up there.

            2. “What bothers me is that this guy publicly thinks he’s the new mozart of cinema”

              I hate it when people just make up stuff and then use that as a justification to criticize successful musicians

              Zimmer doesn’t come across as if he thinks he’s ‘the new mozart’ in this video at all. He comes across as smart, talented and humble about the fact that his music is there to serve the film. I’d love to check out his studio, too.

              1. quaisoir…you’re perfectly correct about just commenting on a silly video, and i salute for you correcting me. i don’t doubt that everyone here is “in the industry”. at what level, well that’s another question. all i was trying to point out is that to say what zimmer does is easy is simply not true, nor is it remotely true to say that any student or music teacher could do what he does. otherwise, they would, and film companies the world over would be queueing up to hire students and music teachers. they’re not. you may not like what he does, but that’s purely a matter of opinion

                i also agree with you about a lot of commercial pop music. i find it a good deal of it nauseating, but over the twenty years of working in that business (yes, yes, i know, the ultimate argument) i’ve learnt to appreciate the skill that goes into making it on its own terms. i don’t like the outcome, but they do something that other people simply can’t.

              2. @swarmboy : Yeah, sure ! Well, we all have different opinions, that’s all, no big deal 😉 Actually I liked some of zimmer’s work. I just loathe this video. But no problem, I see your point.
                @Iman : Intelligent, sure, humble, hum…

        1. of course, because christopher nolan woke up one morning and thought “i’ve got a $200 million dollar movie to make. best get someone mediocre to make the music, i suppose”

  2. One more film and the same music – about what.
    Sounds with a strong computer shade – low quality at such equipment and experience.
    It is disappointed VERY!

  3. More than anything else, film soundtracks are the new classical. Some of Zimmer’s work passes that test beautifully when listened to minus the imagery. Some of it is also shaped more simply because it IS for film. Since marketing is largely the work of demons, I have to take the music separately. Most artisans in the field, such as Jerry Goldsmith, would be the Beethovens of earlier eras. I’ll go that way in this matter and not sweat the excessive hollering about the validity of a superhero movie. My life partially revolves around music, but certainly not around Batman. I don’t need Zimmer’s own Zebra patches to sound better. I just need to work on making my next piece a little better than my last one.

  4. One reason Zimmer makes the money he does is the way he assembles a score.
    He hires many musicians, both writers and performers, then pays them one time.
    The entire score is copyrighted by Hans and he then makes all the film fees, points, royalties and reuse fees ever more.
    The other guys get paid a few thousand ONCE.

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