Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard were recently featured on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”; on their website you can listen to the interview and excerpts of the soundtrack or read the transcript.
Zimmer explains that each of the characters were so distinct, clearly defined and powerful that each could have musical identities that were very separate. In fact, the collaborators often split the work — Newton tackled the music for Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart, while Zimmer created the Joker’s theme.
“I kept churning around…how do you describe anarchy, how do you describe a villian and not do it in a way that’s been done before? One of the things I got very much from the character was a fearlessness, and an evenness in a way. The Joker is the only person you can trust in the movie. The Joker is the only one who will never lie to you because he is consistent about his philosophy,” said Zimmer.
“I really wanted to do the whole thing just with one note. I had this idea that rather than what a note is in the context of the notes surrounding it, what could I do emotionally through a performance within one note? How much can I stretch the meaning of a single note and get it down to such minimalism. I failed slightly. I had to use two notes in the end.”