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Hollywood’s Hans Zimmer is crafting the future of sound design for electric motors

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Renzo Vitale and Hans Zimmer (Via BMW)

Yuri Suzuki aside, sound designers don’t often find themselves on the pages of It’s Nice That, but when we caught wind that one of Hollywood’s most highly-regarded composers was creating and curating a whole host of sounds to accompany the next generation of electric automobiles our interest was firmly piqued.

Hans Zimmer — the soundtrack supremo who has worked on everything from Cool Runnings to Kung Fu Panda 3 via 12 Years a Slave and Black Hawk Down – has been tapped up by German brand BMW to investigate how to fill the “gap in the emotionality of the driving experience,” for consumers who’ve made the eerily silent switch from a gas-guzzling car to a slightly more sustainable electric number.

Working with Renzo Vitale, an acoustic engineer and sound designer at the BMW Group, Zimmer has attempted to create a sound-oriented reduction in the alleged sense of alienation that can develop between driver and car in these vehicles of the future.

James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson are unlikely points of inspiration for the project, but Vitale is keen to note that the pair were looking to replicate the “magical experience” of “the illusion of infinite space,” which is so important to Turrell.

The fruits of Zimmer and Vitale’s auditory labour will be heard by anyone with the means to splash out on a BMW Vision M Next, the company’s recently-announced autonomous car.

“I have always been a BMW enthusiast,” says Zimmer in a press release issued by BMW. “As a kid, I used to recognise my mother coming home by the sound of her BMW. I am thrilled to get the chance to design the sound of future electric BMW’s and create emotion for the future electric driving experience.”

Explaining how the sound aspect of the car actually works, Zimmer is quoted as saying: “When the driver interacts with the accelerator pedal it is not only a mechanical touchpoint but also a performative element. Accelerating becomes an experience during which the driver moves through a series of gradually morphing sound textures.”

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Renzo Vitale and Hans Zimmer (Via BMW)

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Renzo Vitale and Hans Zimmer (Via BMW)

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Renzo Vitale and Hans Zimmer (Via BMW)