Zimmer: “Pirates of the Caribbean” Symphonic highlights

Ahoy me hearties, hold on to your seats for a musical voyage on the high seas!

Walt Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film series first appeared in cinemas in 2003 and this evening’s piece is a medley of highlights from the third film At World’s End. The fantasy swashbuckler films follow the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and take place in a fictional historical setting; a world ruled largely by alternative versions of the British Empire, the East India Company and the Spanish Empire, with pirates representing freedom from the ruling powers.

German-born composer Hans Zimmer (born 1957) is recognised as one of Hollywood’s most innovative musical talents‚ having first enjoyed success in the world of pop music as a member of The Buggles. Since the 1980s, he has composed music for over 150 films including The Lion King, Rain Man, Gladiator and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Zimmer’s works are notable for integrating electronic music sounds with traditional orchestral arrangements. He has received four Grammy Awards, three Classical BRIT, two Golden Globes, and an Academy Award. He was also named on the list of Top 100 Living Geniuses, published by The Daily Telegraph.

Expanding on the Pirates of the Caribbean original score, Zimmer created themes for the villains including Davy Jones, Beckett and the East India Trading Company, as well as giving Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow themes of his own. This evening’s medley includes six themes:

  • Hoist the Colours – this melodic pirate shanty is the main theme of At World’s End and is heard throughout the score, uniting all the pirates together under one melody and representing their ideology for freedom. Watch out for the rabble gang of pirates singing the lyrics: “Yo ho, all together, Hoist the Colours high / Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!”
  • Singapore – starts with Sao Feng’s theme (a legendary Chinese pirate), and a low soft gong followed by the East India Trading Company theme.
  • Jack Sparrow – this is the recognisable drunken theme from the second Pirates of the Caribbean film: Dead Man’s Chest.
  • I see dead people in boats – this love theme is played by a solo oboe accompanied by the strings.
  • Up is down – is a playful, fast-paced jig, and features a Celtic-inspired fiddle theme in 12/8. It accompanies the scene where the Black Pearl ship is tipped upside-down to escape Davy Jones’ Locker.
  • Drink up me hearties – Jack’s heroic theme is played by the brass section with the rest of the orchestra driving the piece to a thrilling climax. This cue details the final minutes of the film as Jack sails over the horizon and the score comes to a close with a final orchestral swell.

Vivienne Parsons, Cello