How Hans Zimmer's epic pirate score reminded me of the power of music.
Does a song need lyrics, a melodic symphony of words poetically entwined together to invoke a stir of the emotions? I always thought so. Without the librettos, a song was ‘boring’, without flavour or feeling. It wasn’t cool. For far too long I navigated the music world with this outlook – until the dramatic, emotive and encapsulating sounds of Hans Zimmer punctured what musical ignorance I had left.
I remember the exact moment the first few chords of ‘Hello Beastie’, from the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, burst through the headphones of my Sony Walkman. It was 2006, and we were driving towards the coastline of Sennen Cove in Cornwall. The deep winding road which descended into the small fishing town opened up to reveal the ocean roaring with surging waves, exploding across a timid stone pier on the opposing side.
We parked in a small coastal car park as the music built, the orchestrations swelling to a spine-tingling crescendo. With the most perfect of timings, a wave swept across the pier fanning out in deep blues and bright whites. I watched with awe, as if my car window had transformed into a cinema screen, my eyes the projector, and Hans Zimmer’s majestic piratical score accompanying my own personal adventure movie.
A feeling stirred within me, it charged through my veins, latching onto my musical soul. I knew that whilst the awesome power of mother nature, thrashing the waters of this quaint fishing town, was enough to stir the emotions, it was the mighty orchestra which made my heart race. For the first time, Zimmer’s music had scratched beneath the surface, enveloping my soul and spirit in a way no song had before.
Watching the swirling maelstrom from the confines of the car, ‘Hello Beastie’ continued. The deep drums echoed as the pace of the music quickened, and for the first-time music combined with my imagination.
Instead of the clear Atlantic Ocean pounding the shoreline, I saw a great galleon heaving as it battled against the tenacious elements of the sea. I was suddenly elevated from the confines of the car and flying through the air, surveying the white sails of the ship thrashing against fierce winds.
It lasted for a few seconds, the excitement leaving me breathless as I returned to reality. The music had quietened, slowing to a low hum of strings. There was an eeriness to the sound, a sadness. I stared at the ocean; the galleon was gone. The waves had settled, as if they were instruments in Zimmer’s orchestrations, reacting to the pace and height of his music. My heart sank as the score seemed to be ending.
So, I savoured the moment. I allowed it to wash over me, encompass my senses; to acknowledge that music is powerful with or without lyrics. For years I had sat at this point of Sennen Cove and watched the waves. Each time I had been enveloped in the excitement and the sounds of nature’s currents swooping over the rocks and sand. So much so, I had never grasped the reason why.
‘Hello Beastie’ gave me the answer. Nature is symbiotic with the majesty of music. They walk hand in hand, rise and fall with the same tempos. With each crescendo, a wave would crash, my imagination would soar, and my spirit would sing. It proved the power of an orchestra, of film scores, and ignited a fire in me to strive to create my own movies. That moment, sitting in the car opened the musical world to me, establishing a deep-seated love for Hans Zimmer’s work and talents ever since.
But perhaps the most precious memory I have was driving away.
Watching the horizon, the music continued silently; the ocean now calming to a faint tide. The pier was still in sight as the most wonderous sound began. A quick paced beat started to tap away – something was coming. The car began the ascent, the waves still in sight. The sound of a choir grew from the distance. The strings grew stronger. With a sudden burst of orchestral jubilation, the iconic theme to Pirates of the Caribbean erupted through the Walkman’s headphones.
And as I glanced behind, taking one last look at the pier of Sennen Cove, a wave smashed across its stone. Proving that a song’s lyric is so much more than a word.
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