Hans Zimmer’s Dune Sketchbook is a Masterpiece of the Century

Hans Zimmer’s Dune Sketchbook soundtrack is a masterpiece of the twenty-first century, and composers of the industry will have to work hard to replicate or create something as angelic as this hour and forty-minute-long soundtrack. The soundtrack is not just music. It tells the story of Dune with its complex synths, haunting vocals, and bagpipes which all transport us to the sands of Arrakis. The soundtrack brings the world right into our minds.

You’ve most likely heard of Hans Zimmer in your life. If you haven’t heard the name, then you will know his music from a movie or two. Zimmer has composed and scored over 200 different projects, which include some key names:

  • The Lion King (1994, Grammy and Golden Globe Award)
  • The Dark Knight (2008, Classic Brit Awards Album of the Year
  • Interstellar (2014, Golden Globe Nomination)
  • Inception (2010, Oscar Nomination)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006, Grammy Nomination)
  • Dunkirk (2017, Grammy and Golden Globe Nomination)
  • Full List of Projects: Wikipedia // Hans Zimmer Website

Zimmer, aged 64, is a German film-score composer who has a net worth of around $200 million. In his career, he has received 185 nominations and 45 wins (full list here) for various awards. Zimmer’s first solo score was Terminal Exposure (1987). The turning point in Zimmer’s career was after he composed Rain Man (1988). From there, he’s become one of the most decorated composers of the twenty-first century, and his creations for Dune only add to his legacy.

Hans Zimmer’s Dune Sketchbook is one of three soundtracks he made for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune. There is the Dune (Orignal Motion Picture Soundtrack) which is the official film score. Then, The Dune Sketchbook soundtrack expands the songs of the movie. The Sketchbook dives deeper into the world and explores the film score’s tracks further. The third soundtrack is Zimmer’s The Art and Soul of Dune, which follows along with Tanya Lapointe’s behind-the-scenes movie companion book. 

But, The Dune Sketchbook takes one’s breath away. It is the only one of the three soundtracks to be produced on vinyl. There were only 3,000 pressings of this special edition vinyl soundtrack (3 LPs), and it deserves praise. Each vinyl record represents the three different planets: Arrakis, Caladan, and Geidi Prime. The soundtrack is as follows: 

  • Song of the Sisters (16:25)
  • I See You in My Dreams (18:25)
  • House Atreides (13:45)
  • The Shortening of the Way (11:14)
  • Paul’s Dream (7:03)
  • Moon over Caladan (8:34)
  • Shai-hulud (9:47)
  • Mind-killer (11:11)
  • Grains of Sand (5:12)*

* “Grains of Sand” was the only track that was composed with the help of Klaus Schulze.

When I first listened to this masterpiece, I listened straight through. No shuffle. It is something that I recommend for others as well. Zimmer’s soundtrack uses a mix of synths, vocal fluctuations, and bagpipes. For the alluring bagpipes, Zimmer recruited 30 different musicians. When listening from “Song of the Sisters” all the way to “Grains of Sand,” you can feel yourself transported through the original world of Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is like watching the spice of Arrakis drift and twinkle before one’s eye.

My favorite track of all time is “House of Atreides” which comes in as the third-longest track. It’s a track you feel in the soul, especially when the bagpipes make their dramatic entry. Their symbolic entrance and gun-shot-like embodiment do not go unnoticed by keen listeners. 

The soundtrack includes the most haunting vocals I’ve ever heard. They are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. They are highlighted in “I See You in My Dreams”, “Paul’s Dream”, and “Song of the Sisters.” However, if you listen closely, you can hear the hint of vocals throughout each track. The one soundtrack that gave me true chills and incited fear was Mind-killer. If you want to give yourself a true scare, then listen to the soundtrack in the dark with your headphones.

For an inside look into Hans Zimmer’s thoughts about Dune’s composition, check out this interview from IndieWire. In the interview, Zimmer mentioned, “I thought of some extraordinarily talented singers, and I kept thinking, wherever you are in the future, the instruments will change due to technology, and we could be far more experimental, but the one thing that remains is the human voice, which there is a lot of.”

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