Lullaby

  • Composer: Keith Hamel 
  • Publisher: Cypress Choral Music
  • Cat No: CP 1051
  • Canadian Composition: Yes
  • Duration: 5:36
  • Sample Track:

Conductor Notes:

Commissioned by Elektra in 1999, Lullaby uses fragments of texts taken from lullabies in several different languages that are found in Canada: English, French, Inuktitut, Iroquois, Sioux, and others. A clear and useful pronunciation guide is enclosed with the score. Trying to achieve a multi-layered effect of soothing sounds, Hamel sometimes incorporates eight part divisi and other times just uses a simple, single line of sound. The result is one of hushed intensity or perhaps suggesting layers of soft blankets where fragments of various melodies or lullabies emerge gently through the texture. The challenge is to achieve the right balance between the voices and the various languages – a setting where all lines have individual value but collectively combine into a sense of innocent, untroubled sleep. (Note by Diane Loomer)

Composer / Arranger Notes:

While looking for source material for my composition, I came across a song called “Eskimo Lullaby” in a book of Canadian folksongs and thought I might like to use fragments of the tune in my composition. The problem was that the text was in English along with a note indicating that it had been transcribed and translated from the original Inuktituk more than 100 years ago. I was much more interested in setting the original language, so I set out to find someone who could translate the lullaby text back into Inuktituk. I posted a message in a Northern Canada online bulletin board and was directed to someone who was able to translate the English text back into the original language. Of course, it is unlikely that the text I used was the same as the text in the original song, but perhaps it was no more different than the variations of text that always happen when text is passed down through generations. Shortly after the composition was completed, I received an email from a woman in Scotland who was writing a play on the history of Dundee for a local repertory Theatre — she needed an Inuit lullaby for one of the scenes and had come across my original posting on the web. I sent her the new Inuktituk text along with the original melody — in a strange way I was continuing a long oral tradition…

References:

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Text:

English: Hush little. Sleep now my little one. Sleep now my baby. French: Dors, mon petit Et bonne nuit Fais doh doh (Sleep, little one. Sleep my little child, and sleep well. Go to sleep) Inuktitut: Ah-kuluk. Ai-gnai panikuluk, panikuluk tunirrusiara arnakuluk, Maana qaujimanngittuq suli. (Ah, little one. Hello little daughter, little daughter. I have a gift of a little girl. She doesn’t know a thing yet).