Doghouse: Jonny Greenwood's New Orchestral Work

Doghouse: Jonny Greenwood's New Orchestral Work

Doghouse is a new orchestral work by Jonny Greenwood, scored for string trio and large orchestra and lasting some 23 minutes.  It was premiered at BBC Maida Vale, London on 28 February by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Robert Ziegler.  The premiere formed part of Greenwood’s ongoing residency with the BBC CO, begun in 2004 with the premiere of Popcorn Superhet Receiver.  The composer writes:

“I wrote this music mostly in hotels and dressing rooms while touring with Radiohead.  This was more practical than glamorous – lots of time sitting around indoors, lots of instruments about – and aside from picking up a few geographical working titles, I can't think that it had any effect where, on tour, it was written.

There's supposed to be a theme (or at least a source of inspiration) in music like this, but it's hard to pin down now as I write this.  I was always mindful of who I was writing for – the orchestra, its players, its background in ‘light music’ and theme tunes, and its status as part of an institution.  And that there had once been specific Radio, Dance and Theatre Orchestras as part of the BBC, as well as various regional variations.

Perhaps this was also why it was important for me that the soloists should come from the orchestra itself, and why we kept to the standard Theatre Orchestra line-up.

One early conversation I had with Roger Wright was about access to the BBC music library: I never got to go, but I guessed it was full of faded scores from radio themes of the 50’s, with parts missing and faded pages.  (Most probably, it's just a tidy room in White City with not much of that ephemeral stuff surviving.)

Writing music in that style is, any case, beyond me – and a pastiche of that material would be wrong in all sorts of ways.  Instead I took textural ideas from how sheet music would sound after being physically damaged like this, and an orchestra having to play with what's left.”

Greenwood’s new work will feed his latest film score, Norwegian Wood, based on the celebrated Japanese novel by Haruki Murakami.  The film is being directed by French /Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung and will be released in Japan in December this year.