Twelve Of the Best: Lullabies

My latest piece is a lullaby and this set me a-thinking that actually I’ve written quite a few lullabies over the years. Here are twelve of the best in my new video catalogue with links to hear the full songs or see glimpses of the scores.

Twelve lullabies, sleeping and night-time songs: songs for mixed, high or low choirs; children’s songs, tuneful songs, atmospheric songs; easy songs, tricky songs. Lullabies galore!
  1. Lullaby Of Silences: SATB. Hearing the absence of lost baby’s chuckles cries and snuffles in silent events during the year: a rainbow, the opening of a daffodil, the curling of a leaf, the falling of a snowflake. This lullaby was composed for The Bridge Singers in Northumberland and inspired by the memorial to Elizabeth Dacre Howard in Lanercost Priory, Cumbria
  2. Dancing Stream : SATB. An evocation of a wintry landscape in Upper Weardale as the mighty River Wear starts its life dancing through the frosty dales and the lives of the farmers and lead miners there. This song was part of a my Winter Wear project of songs about the River Wear, and ends with a call to a baby to hush. The next song starts with a hush too – the type of hush where the topsoil is washed away from a hillside to reveal the lead seams below.
  3. My Bed Is A Boat: SSAA. A flowing-along setting of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem from A Child’s Garden Of Verses. I composed this lullaby after the birth of a niece. The accompanying patterns rock to and fro like a cradle swinging while the melismatic melody flows along above (or below.)
  4. Golden Rain Baby SSAA with instrument. This lullaby was composed for a girls’ high school in Dunedin, New Zealand following the birth of a friend’s son. That friend worked at the same high school. The music in influenced by an Indonesian piece of music I was inspired by at the time, with repeating patterns and melodic shapes I heard in the piece. The instrument part has been variously performed on keyboard, recorder, oboe, glockenspiel.
  5. The Lullaby Of Robert Landreth. SATB. This one tells the story of an earlier Scottish settler to Otago in New Zealand, the direct descendant of my wonderful friends in the Landreth family in Owaka. He was a stonemason and the song is full of terminology from that trade as well as aspects of his life in Scotland, his journey to New Zealand, and his life there. It was first performed as a bass solo by Matthew Landreth at a reunion of the Landreth family to celebrate 150 years since Robert Landreth first came to New Zealand.
  6. Pigeon Hands. Single line with round. This lullaby was first composed for composition workshops at The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, inspired by William Robert’s painting, The Pigeon Carriers. The participant learned the song and composed accompaniment patterns in less than an hour, then performed the song (with round) in front of the painting at the end of the workshop. The painting has many rough-handed workers gently holding their pigeons with great tenderness.
  7. Stanley Dreaming. Single line with round. This lullaby was also composed for and first performed in The Hepworth Wakefield, this time by Brownies and guides enjoying a sleepover in the galleries and inspired by the shipyard paintings of Stanley Spencer.
  8. Banana Boy. Single line with percussion. Also SATB arrangement. A song with Latin rhythms which tells of the varied uses of bananas: soothing a headache; giving energy; calming a fever, as a shampoo; and finally to help you sleep.
  9. The Moon SSAA An atmospheric evocation of the night-time imaginings in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem from “A Child’s Garden Of Verses”, this is one of my most-performed songs.
  10. Spring Moon Single line with various accompaniments. A short setting of a haiku by David Keen, I composed four different version of this song to suit all abilities. It was first performed by Dave and I (and the group) at a conference of history and geography teachers in New Zealand. The ideas were twofold: to introduce a class to Japanese Society through music, and to demonstrate that even students with little musical confidence could participate in this activity.
  11. Creatures Of The Night. Single line song. “Do you have a song about bats?” asked the 6 year old as I wandered into his classroom. “No, but I will by tomorrow, if you tell me everything you know about them.” And so this song started its life. It’s less a lullaby and more the stuff of nightmares to some, perhaps.
  12. Hush My Dear (arr.) SSA or TBB. This arrangement of a French carol was made for a girls’ high school choir and then subsequently performed by Lionheart Harmony, a men’s close harmony singing ensemble. If you listen to this recording of them singing it, you’ll also hear an improvised higher part by their one female member!

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