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A ‘Green’ approach to acoustics

Eye on the Oscars: Music

Despite mixed reviews, Disney’s “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” charmed many with its fantastical story about a boy sprung from the garden of an infertile couple — not least because of Geoff Zanelli’s verdant, melodic score.

Director Peter Hedges was won over by Zanelli’s conceptual approach to the film: using only acoustic instruments (and no samples), favoring those with folksy and wooden properties, and capturing the raw, human elements of musicians’ performances (“the most flattering amount of note versus fingernail”).

“There was something about the score being handmade, that was thematic to the movie,” Zanelli says.

The film takes place in autumn, and in a fictional town that relies on its pencil factory — thus, percussion includes pencils and branches, as well as a dulcimer hammer hitting the body of mandolins and guitars.

Humming vocals provide introspection and warmth, performed by Zanelli and a young girl named Sarah Rollins. Zanelli got the idea at a funeral, when a relative began humming “Amazing Grace.”

Accordion, banjo, tin whistle and various folk instruments round out the score, which is based on three major themes that represent Timothy, the boy’s puppy love, and what Zanelli calls a “life goes on” thread.

Eye on the Oscars: Music
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