The Language of Lullabies

“My son was born in Britain. I thought 'I have to sing to him in my language.' I rang my mum in Sarajevo. She asked all the neighbours until we had all three verses.”
Programme Details

Two artistic and curious features which explores the music and narratives of a vivid selection of lullabies from around the world.

In every culture the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue are carried in lullabies, this prepares a child’s voice, brain and ear for language. In this programme we visit a lullaby project in the neo-natal ward of the Royal London Hospital; Neuro-Psychologist Sally Blythe discusses the importance of the mother’s voice in child development and Emeritus Professor of Child Psychology and Psychobiology at the University of Edinburgh Colwyn Trevarthen discusses how lullabies are a ‘cultivated enjoyment’ of the innate musicality of babies.

The music and narratives of a vivid selection of lullabies are explored, and we discover why so many lullabies from around the world often contain dark or threatening imagery.

The first programme hears lullabies from around the world, the second, ‘Lullabies of the Arab World’, explores how ancient lullabies in the Arab world are adapting to modern life. The two programmes go out on the BBC World Service at the start and end of December. During December Outlook on the World Service will also feature four short pieces about lullabies from around the world.

1st and 22nd December 2012, BBC World Service

Production Credits

Produced by Nina Perry
‘Lullabies of the Arab World’ co-produced with Lily Al-Tai

More on Nina’s blog

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When Silence SIngs
A sonic reflection on Venice, through the ears of its residents.