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

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How it Works

Hidden Remote: How does the process of putting together a television show work musically?

Kirchman: We have a spotting session relatively early on. We look at where we need music, where it should start and stop, and what function it might have. Sometimes there is temp material built ffrom other cues of mine for the show which can indicate a possible direction. We discuss all that and basically from there I start writing. Later, we have the opportunity to review how those things are working. Sometimes we might change our minds about how long something needs to be, or the direction it needs to go. Once you have something in place, you may want to push it further in that direction. Then at a certain point all the cues are signed off on and delivered to the dub stage for the mix. You have the pilot as a reference point, and the more you get into the show, the more cues you can refer to and it gets a little easier to develop landmarks for reference.

Hidden Remote: Do you feel that once you get started in a show, the scoring becomes more narrow, since you have already begun the framework?

Kirchman:  I always like to think in terms of opening up and building outward. The pilot is like a foundation you are building on. You can build a lot of things on a foundation – there are a lot of possibilities. To continue with visual analogies, let’s say it’s eight episodes, it can become an eight-story building. It’s going to be part of the same structure, but there is new stuff that happens. New emotions, new developments. The show is exciting, different stuff happens, and we will be following that with the score.

Hidden Remote: Hypothetically, what are the factors to consider when scoring multiple characters on screen that are not in a harmonious grouping?

Kirchman: The essence of scoring is that you are scoring a dynamic. Music is really movement and color and a sonic part of the world. It’s not just one thing or the other thing. It’s fabric that seeps into everything. That fabric can function in a lot of different ways depending on where the movie is aligning its point of view or perspective at that moment. That is going to stir the audience experience and affect where the audience is placing its allegiances. The music can really nudge you into different directions. I would say that you are scoring the world of the show. The music is multi-dimensional, and can shift. That can help shape the journey that people are going on.

Hidden Remote: Is there a difference between how you would start on a movie score and how you would start on a television score?

Kirchman: How I would start is not necessarily all that different, because in both cases, you’re telling a story. It’s just that with a television series, the story develops over more episodes. The workflow and schedule can be quite different, since in tv the pace is very fast. I love working in both formats, but what I’m loving about tv right now is the what that longer storyline offers: the ability to develop a musical language over a longer period of time, to see how these characters and their universe can grow and change and surprise us.