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Creating The Music

Creating the score for the movie fell to James Howard (Academy Award® winner for Titanic) and with whom Howard collaborated on Apollo 13. Like his fellow creative partners on the production, he went through all the Dr. Seuss books to get inspiration and to try and figure out what sounds would possibly come out of some the strange looking instruments that were depicted in some of the books.

"We made about eight instruments out of all sorts of odd materials, including a garden hose and PVC pipe," recalls Homer, whose kludging is reminiscent of how some of the set decoration and props came to fruition.

"The sound I was looking for was sort of nasal- like and whistle-like qualities which I thought should personify the Whoville marching band."

Writing the score to the movie was far easier for Homer than coming up with the music to some of the movie's songs. His lyricist, Cynthia Weil (Academy Award® nominee in 1987 for Best Song from An American Tail), had an equal challenge in attempting to replicate the rhythm that Geisel perfected in his 44 books.

"I was not that familiar with his books, but after I immersed myself in them I realized how complex the language was and how truly unique his voice was" says Weil. "It was like learning another language. I had to learn to write in Seuss and make it seem natural."

Homer's main concern was that the score have a lot of heart, "because Cindy Lou had a lot of heart and she's the engine that drives the movie. I've always been attracted to stories where one character sees something that no one else sees, and she then has to convince everyone of her point of view," says Homer.

Jim Carrey—with no accompaniment or anything to alter his voice— sang the signature song of "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" which was written by Albert Hague and Theodor S. Geisel (Dr. Seuss) for the 1966 animated television program.

The songs heard in the movie were used as a counterpoint to the score with Howard's concern being that all the songs should be original because Whoville doesn't exist and he didn't want moviegoers to have a frame of reference for the music. Music supervisor Bonnie Greenberg started talking with artists, who like the movie, had offbeat and witty sensibilities. The exception to this would be "Where Are You Christmas" written by Homer, Will Jennings and Mariab Carrey (sung by Taylor Momsen in the movie and Faith Hill over the movie's end credits) which reflects the turmoil Cindy Lou Who is going through—the thematic heart of the movie.

The rest of the songs all have a retro feel to them, much like the look of the movie that was inspired by 1940's and 50s styles.

"The music seemed like out of the 50s," says Greenberg, "though it's modernized so that it comes off as eccentric and off-beat."

Howard wanted Whoville to always have music emanating from some source much like Tokyo, Japan where one can always hear music.

The music in Whoville also features the winner of the "Tonos Challenge" series, 36-year-old Jeanette Castillo who wrote original lyrics, and 15-year-old Kristen Collins, who was selected to sing.


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