It’s 10am on some day of the week, I forget which it was, and I am sat at my keyboard with a big, chunky notepad in front of me. This is my Lullaby Lu work notebook, and I have just written down, on a brand new, crisp page all the details that have just been sent to me via Messenger from a very enthusiastic customer.
A Bespoke Dream Package, Please
My customer wants a bespoke Dream package for her friend’s new baby boy. She has found Lullaby Lu from Hong Kong, but on this occasion the lullaby will be sent within the UK (little happy dance ensues for Lullaby Lu’s debut in Hong Kong though!). After explaining what the package entails she does what every person offering a bespoke service hopes and prays for, and she provides a wonderful long list of personal details that she would like to be included within the completely unique lullaby.
This list includes nicknames and sentiments, as well as a request to reference the importance of family and family gatherings, particularly at Christmas.
Let the Magic Happen
And so I sit, notebook in front of me, and I let my fingers start to peruse the black and white keys beneath them. They dance and mingle, exploring chord sequences and arpeggios until a melody begins to unfurl. I go back to the start, I replay what I just discovered, and feel it slowly start to cement and build to form the lullaby I’ve promised. This play, replay and build further process repeats and repeats, allowing me to gradually grow the music to the point where the words can start to be added…
Make it Personal
I look at the long list of things to include and smile. With every little detail that gets sewn into the lyrics the lullaby becomes more and more personal to the baby for whom it’s being written. A lyrical tapestry. I scribble, I cross out, I re-write and re-write until I am happy with the rhythm, the content and the flow of each line. There must be rhyme, there must be a good 3/4 tempo, and whatever happens it must evoke emotion.
I am only at the keyboard for a relatively short time. This lullaby writes itself and soon I am ready to record.
Capture the Magic of the Music
I switch on all my recording equipment – my computer, my microphone and my soundcard. I draw the curtains in the room and shut all the doors. This is now a sanctuary, a room dedicated to the baby boy whose lullaby I am about to construct. The blank recording screen appears in front of me and I can begin…
Piano first. Play the backing softly and rhythmically. Beyond this, I am well and truly in my happy place! The vocals.
The lead vocal first – get it just right, pitch, melody, pronunciation…one take, two, three…..I soon press the ‘stop’ button and step back, happy with the main body of the lullaby. But now…..now the real magic can start. I listen back to the lead track, and let the harmonies happen. I go where they take me, and layer each harmony that unfolds to give the lullaby depth and richness.
Soon it is there. Finished. Complete. Ready to be polished and sprinkled with a little magic dust to give it the dreamy, haunting, magical sound that Lullaby Lu is known for.
I sit back, I close my eyes, and I listen to the finished lullaby. At this point I feel as though I know the little baby boy in question. I feel a sense of pride in being able to create something that underpins so many personal points and details of not just him, but the family as well. In this instance I have become a mediator, someone who has interpreted words from a family member, and moulded them into a song for another to listen to.
There will be a moment that I won’t be party to – the moment when the parents of this little baby open their gift and listen to the lullaby for the first time. I won’t see it, but I feel confident that it will be a special one. This lullaby was written as one from them, to their son, and once they have it they can sing or play it to him every day from that moment onwards.
I am honoured, proud and lucky. So very lucky.