“It’s so remarkable to have a composer who thinks about the characters in this way, who thinks about the story, who really sees and hears it in the way that I do too,” says “The Power of the Dog” writer-director Jane Campion about composer Jonny Greenwood, whose score for the film is nominated for an Oscar. That score was performed live by the Wordless Music Orchestra during a special screening of the film where the music was performed live-to-screen. Watch the exclusive Netflix featurette above.
“I always feel a little bit fraudulent that I’m quite rarely writing stuff directly to picture,” says Greenwood about his unique process. “It’s more about the characters and the landscape … I remember getting the early footage of cattle in the mountains, and it’s just so beautiful. That was inspiring for the music, just seeing those images.” And Campion had “never seen a composer work like that in such a deliberate and clear way.”
The Wordless Music Orchestra is conducted by Robert Ames, who was especially struck by Greenwood’s “Power of the Dog” score “because of the way Jonny recorded a lot of it himself and layered up a single instrument himself over time.” In particular, the finger-picking cello the composer incorporates into the score is “really original. I’d never really heard anything like that before.” You can watch some of that finger picking up close in the featurette, showcasing how deceptively challenging the technique is.
This is Greenwood’s second Oscar nomination, following his bid four years ago for his “Phantom Thread” score. If he wins this time, he could add it to his shelf next to the three Grammys he has won as the lead guitarist and keyboardist for the lauded alternative rock band Radiohead. After decades with that group he’s clearly well versed in the power of live music. Ames adds, “I think live music to film … shines a new light on the music and the relationship between the music and the picture itself … Honestly, I find that generally all film music is pretty great.”
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