Interview with Cinematique Instruments

During the past 12 years, René Dohmen and Joachim Dürbeck have successfully been working as composers, producers and artists in the music industry. Their work covers everything from classical productions to electronic or even abstract-experimental music as well as numerous commissions for film scores. Always in search of new and unique sounds they decided to create and release their own sample libraries under the name of Cinematique Instruments. Owing to the occasion of their first releases for HALion, we talked to Joachim about their source of inspiration, productions for German TV series Tatort and, of course, their instruments.

You have been established since 2009. When did you first start using samples in your compositions?

We first encountered sampling when we had a band together back in the 1990s. We had Ensoniq hardware samplers and we were amazed at the creative potential in sampling.

What does working with samples mean for you ?

Sampling means freedom. On the one hand, you can capture audio material and use it as you wish for your own purposes; on the other hand, you can change the context for the audio material and generate amazing results. And when you add in the relevant effects and scripts, you can realise almost any crazy idea in modern software samplers.

In addition to developing your instruments, you also compose a lot of film scores for major German productions, such as Tatort. Do you also use your instruments for this work?

We rely almost exclusively on our own instruments in all films, including Tatort. We record a lot at the microphone, but we also like working with our analogue vintage synths, guitar pedals and modular synths.

In which episode of Tatort can we hear Vertigo Strings, for example?

You can hear it in the ‘Déja vu’ episode of the Dresden-based Tatort. You can listen to sound samples made using our instruments that are featured in the film, including Vertigo Strings, on our webside (link below).

What inspired you to develop the Vertigo Strings?

We asked ourselves what would happen if we combined our strings library with sounds that you would not necessarily associate with orchestral strings. For example, how it would sound if we combined a soft Roland Juno synth pad with a Ponticello violin, or if we layered a fragile cello with an organ distorted by a tape machine and the scratching of a bow. The result is Vertigo Strings.

In your recordings you are attracted to deserted factory buildings or, in the case of the marimba, to Australia. How important are your surroundings to you as a source of inspiration?

Inspiration is everything when it comes to creativity. So, we are always searching for new ways to keep the wheels turning, abandon well-trodden paths, leave our comfort zone. It can also be very helpful to try out a new, unfamiliar environment.

How do you usually start a new project for a sample-based instrument?

There’s no typical start for a new instrument. You could even say that each instrument has its own history. Sure, there are obvious reasons, such as when a new instrument is purchased, as in the case of the santur or the mandolin. But we often get ideas when writing or even listening to music; or there is a theoretical concept that we try to implement in practice, as in the case of Vertigo Strings or Interval.

You have sampled a huge number of ‘exotic’ instruments, such as the hammered dulcimer. What is your main consideration when choosing your software instruments?

First and foremost, we always play the instruments ourselves and use them for new scores. They must be suitable for our films and projects, and they must inspire us. We do not sample any instruments that we ourselves could not use for our film scores.

What is the attraction for you of HALion as a new platform for software instruments? And what functions would you like to use in future for your instruments?

Integration with Cubase works very well: simply map parameters on to a Quick Control, automate this in Cubase and that’s it! For us, it is a very intuitive process. But the new effects are also fun to use. Looking to the future, we would like to concentrate more on the Wavetable and Granular mode. The layering of different sound sources is always particularly exciting.

You have been enthusiastic Cubase users for many years now, which effects do you particularly enjoy using in Vertigo Strings and Hammered Dulcimer?

We use the reverbs a lot, mainly REVerence for larger, long spaces, and REVelation for shorter or special effect reverbs. We also love to use Loopmash; it’s ideal for fast, rhythmic variations and stutters.

To finish, just one final question: Which film would you like to have scored? And what would you have done differently to the original composer?

There will be blood. Our music would not have been so heavy on the strings, definitely different. But unfortunately, also not as brilliant as Jonny Greenwood’s masterpiece (laughs).