Australia: HUGs Lullaby Celebrates Aussie Animals and The HUG

This blog is by Jan's husband, Jim.

The Australian lullaby that Jan and I just created features the continent’s unique animals. Early in our stay in Tasmania, a visit to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary was both touching and educational for us. That facility cares for injured animals, and we toured it with an exceptionally well informed naturalist. 

He went into remarkable detail about the habits and abilities of Australian marsupials—even explaining how a mother kangaroo (or “Jill”) can express, from different teats inside her pouch, different kinds of milk to meet the varying nutritional needs of the different-aged “Joeys” she may be carrying. How cool is that! 

At Bonorong we saw wombats and Tassie devils, and also got up close and personal with maybe 100 kangaroos, in a very large enclosure, after a sea of school-aged children left on their bus. “Kangaroo Care” never seemed so real to Jan!

Jan’s idea for the lyrics of this lullaby is to link Australian animal behavior to some of the sleep problems that she helped Australian nurses and parents solve. CLICK HERE to read a parent's story.

Musically, I tried to bring together several traditions that are fundamental strands in Australian popular music. First is the Aboriginal tradition. Didgeridoos, bull roarers (elliptical discs that are twirled to make unearthly sounds), along with clapsticks and stones for percussion, are the dominant elements of Aboriginal instrumental music. All are featured in this Lullaby.

A second major musical strand in Australia is the Anglo-Scottish ballad tradition—the same one that settlers brought to Appalachia. In Australia the “convict heritage” is in the spotlight these days (after years of being disclaimed). Vandemonium Lags is a stage show and
recording of convict-inspired music, much of which is written in the ballad tradition. 

I created a melody for this lullaby that draws on the ballad tradition—although part of it also echoes the American blues idiom, which is the
third major strand in Australian pop music.

It is fun for Jan and me to work together on creating these lullabies. The work helps preserve
our memories of particular things we especially appreciate about the cultures we visit. Working together on songs also helps us pass the time—sort of like gin rummy, but with more cards to play! Jan is doing something new for her, and I’m enjoying teaching her a musical thing or two. Hopefully, the HUGs Around the World lullaby project can present HUG Your Baby ideas in a unique format that others might find entertaining, accessible, and informative.