Interview: Composer Ronit Kirchman gives us the scoop on ‘The Sinner’

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The importance of Attitude

Hidden Remote: Why is attitude important in music?

Kirchman: I value going into more depth and being really rigorous, and I really value openness. I don’t take for granted basic things like attitudes toward chord progressions and what instruments to use in terms of scoring. I try to allow all the experiences and things I have studied to be there for me, while cultivating a certain kind of openness.

In the case of scoring, it’s the openness to the story. Having some initial ideas but also being willing to listen to the story. Being open to the new way of saying things every time, which gives a lot back to the composer because you never feel bored and you feel really alive, and you are never phoning it in.

Hidden Remote: A story that drives you, would give you ideas on what kind of instruments to use. Would that be a fair statement?

Kirchman: In my work so far, I’ve found that new instruments that end up in my arsenal or on my computer with each new project, because I am searching for that perfect signature sound which is unique to the story. In the case of The Sinner, we are going for a fresh sound and a score that helps keep you on your toes.

It’s a show that I would watch even if I wasn’t working on it. On this show, we are interested in really getting people engaged and to expect the unexpected. That applies to the score as well. I am using acoustic instruments in slightly unusual ways, with extended techniques and processing, and I am doing a lot of from-the-ground-up programming with synthesizers and sound design.

I’m really paying attention for the moments when I hit upon something that feels like “I’ve never really heard that before.” On the show, we are thinking a little outside the box in terms of genre and TV conventions. Our showrunner (a television series’ leading executive producer), Derek Simonds, is very oriented towards giving the audience an experience that feels somehow refreshing and new.