The Untold Truth Of Spencer

In addition to providing a lot of the signature sounds that make Radiohead one of the most experimental and future-forward bands in music, guitarist Jonny Greenwood has a sideline as a film composer. He’s writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s go-to musician, providing the soundtracks for “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master,” “Inherent Vice,” and “Phantom Thread.” In 2021, Greenwood’s scores underlie and enhance three movies with major awards buzz: “The Power of the Dog,” Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza,” and “Spencer.”

Greenwood struggled with scoring “Spencer,” and he tried hard not to go with classical-style orchestral music, as that’s what’s overwhelmingly used in biopics and movies about the British crown. “I watched a few royal films, which were full of sweeping shots of Buckingham Palace, with fanfare horns and tinkling harpsichords on top,” Greenwood told NME. “I wanted instead to emphasize how chaotic and colorful Princess Diana was, in amongst all that baroque tradition. It’s what the film does too.”

The way Greenwood got the music he wanted: He wrote the score “in that regular royal style,” and when it came time to record, he switched out the musicians stationed to traditional instruments — kettle drums, pipe organs, harpsichords — with improvisational jazz musicians. “The key was to still sound vaguely baroque, while leaving enough space for true anarchy and chaos.”

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