Radiohead's Guitarist Adapts To Life In Widescreen | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Radiohead's Guitarist Adapts To Life In Widescreen

Reviews of the new film The Master have ranged from acclaim to disdain. Almost all the critics, though, seem to admire the film's music, composed by Jonny Greenwood.

Greenwood's story begins in the early 1990s, when he was playing the viola at Oxford University and not making much of an impression — even on himself.

"I was headed for the back of the viola section in some orchestra," Greenwood says. "If I practiced hard enough."

On the side, he played in a band that was hoping for greatness — and eventually found it after signing a record deal with EMI. By 1993, concert arenas and radios erupted with the sound of Jonny Greenwood on a different string instrument: lead guitar, for Radiohead.

By the early 2000s, Radiohead was one of rock's biggest acts — and that's just when the band decided to sideline its guitar-driven sound for one based in synths and samples. That gave Greenwood room to explore other instruments, and to write haunting, avant-garde compositions for orchestras.

"What I really enjoy about writing for orchestras is realizing that — and it's kind of self-evident — but the fact that they are 48 individuals," Greenwood says. "It's not, you know, a preset on a keyboard. It's all these people who have opinions and who are making decisions about how to play."

It wasn't long before directors started taking notice of Greenwood's new fancy. He composed the chilling score for 2007's There Will Be Blood. After that film's success, director Paul Thomas Anderson asked Greenwood back for his new film, The Master, saying he needed sounds for a cult-like atmosphere.

Today, Greenwood has a lot of options in his life to make music, including the guitar — or not.

"I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed to play guitar," Greenwood says. "There's something — I don't want to sound ungrateful — but there's something very old-fashioned and traditional about it. You meet kids today whose grandparents were in punk bands. It's very old and traditional, but then, so is an orchestra and so is a string section. ... [It's] is a contradiction going around in my head, and I can't really resolve it."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

Tom Toro was a directionless 20-something film school dropout. Then, after an inspired moment at a used book sale, he started submitting drawings to The New Yorker ... and collecting rejection slips.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
WAMU 88.5

Plan To Offer Free Community College Divides Along Party Lines

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama laid out a plan to offer two years of community college. But at least in Northern Virginia, support for the proposal seems split on partisan lines.

NPR

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Sling TV launches in a few weeks. That's the new streaming service from Dish that allows viewers to stream content previously only available through cable.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.