Q: What Drew You to Composing Lullabies?
A: I wanted to give a special gift in celebration of my friend’s daughter’s birth in 1995. I came upon the idea of composing a lullaby, with the hope that one day the child would grow up and be able to play their own piece. After I wrote “Kimberly Rose” I continued this musical gifting so when close friends or family members have children I write a lullaby for them. I’ve composed about 40 lullabies to date. A couple of these children have already played their own pieces and perhaps their kids or grandchildren will play them one day and say ‘hey, I have this cool piece some guy wrote for my grandma way back in 1998!’
I’ve always been drawn to the serenity and simplicity of lullabies. Lullabies don’t have a specific form, though they are often in triple meter or 6/8 time and have lulling or rocking motion. There are two main theories on where the word “lullaby comes from: the first is that two earlier English words used to soothe children — “lulla” and “bye” were combined in the late 1500’s to refer specifically to a song used to calm children or put them to sleep. It’s also been proposed that the name comes from the Hebrew phrase, “Lilith-Abi” meaning “Lilith begone.” (Lilith is a folkloric character who was believed to steal children in the night and these incantations were sounded to keep her away.)
Lullabies are in every culture. in creating All The World Is Sleeping, my first lullaby CD, I included 10 lullabies from around the world, including South America, Asia, Africa and Europe as well as 11 original compositions. I had recently completed ‘Celtic Nocturnes’ and had enjoyed the process of arranging melodies from other countries in a style that was reflective of the culture they came from. For example, in the Chinese lullaby Purple Bamboo Flute, I incorporated pentatonic runs, and other characteristic sounds.
For the original lullabies I usually start composing when I get the celebratory announcement with the child’s name, date of birth and photos. Sometimes it can be the rhythm of the name (especially if it has a flowing quality) or just a feeling I get that inspires me. The only commonality is that these pieces are soothing, lyrical and simple. I love working on pieces that help counter the frantic and hectic pace of our daily lives and they provide a nice balance to some of my other work.
One of my favorite All The World Is Sleeping stories involves our furry friends. When this CD first came out in 2001 my Dad sent a copy to one of his friends who sent me a pretty unbelievable testimonial:
“My welsh terrier and wired hair fox terrier enjoyed Scott’s music so much that they would stop playing and go lie down on their beds and sleep during the lullaby.”
Perhaps I’ll call my next lullaby CD, which I look forward to recording as duets, “Cat Naps and Doggie Dreams”.
Here are two pieces from All The World Is Sleeping. Sweet Dreams.