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How Hans Zimmer and Radiohead transformed "Bloom" for Blue Planet II

The “tidal orchestra,” deconstructed.

Christophe Haubursin is a senior producer for the Vox video team. Since joining the team in 2016, he has produced for Vox’s YouTube channel and Emmy-nominated shows Glad You Asked and Explained.

Sixteen years after the release of its original marine documentary series, BBC’s Blue Planet is back. For the video prequel to the Blue Planet II series, composer Hans Zimmer came together with Radiohead to rework a version of "Bloom" from the band’s 2011 album, The King of Limbs.

BBC’s original series, which Thom Yorke bought as a gift for his son, inspired the 2011 version of "Bloom," which is a complex rock song with syncopated drums. But the Hans Zimmer rework called "(Ocean) Bloom" feels entirely different. It’s a lush, orchestral version of the song, and it contains a fascinating style of orchestral instruction that musically mimics the ocean.

If you listen closely to the beginning of the track, you can hear the orchestral trick at work. They call it the "tidal orchestra" — a musical effect created by instructing each player to play their notes only if the person next to them isn’t playing. The result is a musical bed that captures the motion of ocean waves by randomly swelling and fading through the entire series.

Watch the video above for a deeper dive into how Radiohead and Hans Zimmer reinvented "Bloom" for Blue Planet II. The new series is now airing Saturdays on BBC America.

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