He became a self-taught drummer (on bongos and biscuit tin lid) in local pop groups at 13 where he sang 'Louie Louie' wearing a Ringo hat.
After leaving school he slept till lunchtime for 3 years and gradually beacme a composer through the necessity of doing something.
Until his mid-20s he was active as a drummer in jazz/rock and experimental improvisational groups, touring Canada with the group 'Supply, Demand and Curve'.
At 18 he attended the Royal Irish Academy of Music for 3 years every Monday afternoon studying composing, during which time he was awarded 2 composition scholarships. 'I am a composer', he thought.
His works '4 Sketches' and 'All the Rage' won respectively second and first prizes in the Dublin Symphony Orchestra's composition competition, receiving performances when Roger was in his early 20s. Around this time he was teaching piano (and being a drummer) and composed '6 Pieces for Pupils who Don't Like Exams', winning first prize in the Feis Ceol competition.
He hung up his drumsticks when he was awarded a Dutch Government Scholarship to study electronic music at the Institute of Sonology, then in Utrecht. By saving his scholarship living expenses money Roger financed and came back from Holland with his first LP under his arm "OIZZO NO" (1975), a mixture of acoustic and electronic pieces.
A further scholarship took him to the Finnish Radio Experimental Music Studio for a year. CBS Records released a second LP "THALIA" in 1978. A third LP was released in 1981 on the London United Dairies label "RAPID EYE MOVEMENTS", his 'masterpiece before the age of 30'.
Since then Roger has worked extensively in theatre, film and dance in particular with the music-theatre companies Operating Theatre and Icontact, which he co-founded (Operating Theatre released singles with CBS and Mother Records in the mid-eighties - the latter produced by Bono of U2).
In his 30s he worked in many styles, allowing the influences of pop music to filter through. He was one of the first people in Ireland to work on a Fairlight Computer Music Instrument.
In 1990, at the age of 40 he began his life's work 'BABEL' which would occupy him for 10 years.
He was awarded the Programme Music Prize at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1997) with a piece from Babel called 'Spirit levels'. In 1999 Operating Theatre produced a multimedia one-woman show with actress Olwen Fouere 'Angel/Babel', using customised realtime interactive sensor software.
Later that year he set up the Silverdoor label and released 'Babel' as a 5-CD set, where each track corresponds to a room or place within a giant tower city. It is a celebration of musical language.
In 2000 he released 'FAIRLIGHT MEMORIES' a double CD of 80s Fairlight Music. Also in 2000 the CD 'UNDER THE GREEN TIME' was released, a collaboration with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble; and a CD of the music which Doyle composed for the Steven Berkoff production of 'SALOME', which played in Dublin's Gate Theatre, in London's West End and on three world tours.
A new large-scale woek 'PASSADES - VOLUMES 1 AND 2' was released in 2004/5 on the Dutch label BV Haast
He is constantly surprised that he is a composer.
The music on this CD is comprised of the soundtracks of 2 films made in the 1980's, written and directed by Irish film-maker Bob Quinn; and an arrangement of an old Irish song.
The feature film Budawanny (1987) was shot mainly as a silent movie, in black and white, with captions appearing when people spoke. 70 minutes of music was composed for this film. Set in the west of Ireland Budawanny is the story of a priest (played by Donal McCann) and a woman (Margaret Fegan) who fall in love, and how the villagers and the couple cope with the fact that she becomes pregnant. The Budawanny music is presented here as a 42 minute suite, existing as a theme and variations and a listening experience in its own right. The titles of its 12 pieces, therefore, are referencial rather than conveying the story.
Atlantean (1984) is a 3-part film about the maritime Irish and their North African/Middle Eastern connections. It proposes that, apart from Scandinavian, Iberian, and Norman incursions, the island of Ireland has enjoyed ancient and continuous influences from Morocco, Libya, Egypt etc. The thousand-year-old Irish Sean-NÃ³s singing is the plainest evidence of this fact. The theme music of Atlantean integrates both Middle-Eastern and Irish resonances. Track 13 is an extract of the original soundtrack recording, and track 14 is a recording made in the National Concert-Hall in Dublin in 1990 of a concert of Roger Doyle's music, which also included the Budawanny music performed live.
Amhran Mhuighinnse is an arrangement of a Sean-Nos ('old style') song sung in Irish by Sarah Grealish.
By improvising at the piano while working on the Atlantean music I had a feeling of unearthing a buried musical seam. I found that I had a powerful link to the ideas the film was propounding and was very moved by Sarah Grealish's sean-nos singing that Bob had included in the film. This music was like old weeds coming up through cracks in the tarmacadam that the Catholic Church and Tourist Board had covered Ireland with. It wasn't European. Playing it myself, and so easily finding other musicians to play with me, was proof to me that something remains in our blood of other Irelands, uncharted.
When I came to work on my large-scale composition Babel in the 1990's, I worked with many soloists around the world creating an ethnic musical language, through directed improvisation. Their ancestral music came easily to them too, despite a classical training.
In 1998 Bob Quinn made a fourth film in the Atlantean trilogy and sent me a tape of Sarah Grealish singing Amhran Mhuighinnse unaccompanied. With great respect for her tradition I made the arrangement that appears here. The words are funeral instructions given by a woman who wants to be buried with her own people, so that she won't be alone. Sarah and I toured Holland in 1999 with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and Irish piper Brian O'Huiginn. Included in the programme was an arrangement of Amhran Mhuighinnse for her and wind ensemble.
The music for Budawanny played a central role in the film, and was uninterrupted by any talking over it (a composer's dream). It has elements of Irish traditional music, European art music and middle-eastern music. All tracks are thematically linked, except for 'Ecce' which is a reworking of an old hymn. Budawanny is the Irish for 'monk's penis'.
- Dublin, Spring 2002.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Opening Music
2. Priest On Motorbike
3. Moving In
4. Inspecting the House
5. The Storm
6. The Vigil
8. The Boat Race
9. The Dance
13. Atlantean (studio Version)
14. Atlantean (live)
15. Amhran Mhuighinnse