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Zimmer Has Legacy in Scoring Historical Epics

Music man is Burnett's go-to guy for soaring scores

“When it came to scoringThe Bible,” creators Mark Burnett and Roma Downey went straight to the source for epic music, tapping Hans Zimmer to spearhead the score for the History mini.

Zimmer and Burnett worked together in 2006 on NBC boxing reality show “The Contender,” but Zimmer, for the most part, stays away from television. He recalls one incident that sums up his difficulty in the medium: “The last time I tried something in TV,” Zimmer says, “I didn’t even get past the pilot. I won’t name names, but it was for being too cinematic and emotional.”

Zimmer relayed this story “laughingly” to Burnett, who in turn told the composer that “cinematic” and “emotional” fit the bill perfectly for “The Bible.” “It’s fun to work with friends and like-minded people,” Zimmer says. “Mark and Roma create an environment where you can try anything … I’d do any project with Mark because it’s always going to be an adventure.”

Zimmer took on “The Bible” a full decade after composing for historically influenced features “Prince of Egypt” and “Gladiator.” Nonetheless, lessons from those pics carried over to the series.

“You don’t have to be a historian or a musical anthropologist,” says Zimmer. “These stories have been told for thousands of years. How do we make them relevant to our generation? Delving into ancient music isn’t going to do it.”

From there, Zimmer scored the theme music, while Lorne Balfe composed the mini, which features the vocals of Lisa Gerard.

Zimmer credits the teamwork approach as key to the score’s success, and describes the “Bible” score as “epic where appropriate, yet simple and humble where it’s supposed to be.” He notes that the music also “draws upon the geography where the story takes place.”

“For some people, (this show) is about faith. For some people, it’s about lessons that can be learned. For others, it’s about the story you can tell about human perspective … for me, it’s always about the human perspective. I don’t know how else to make things resonate. I don’t ever want to dictate what you’re supposed to feel. I just want to give you the possibility to feel something.”

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