Sometimes I come up with slightly misleading titles. These “Songs” don’t involve any singing, nor indeed a lot of sleeping. These were dedicated to my eldest daughter, Faith, and probably at least in part inspired by her nocturnal habits.
They do tell a definite story. Imagine a child of say ten. First there is a gentle piece as they are put to bed, and perhaps it is the wish of all parents that the tale end here.
But no, there is more. Somewhere a distant clock chimes midnight, and they’re off! Down the stairs, and into the kitchen where, in freedom, they proceed to cavort and dance about, and perhaps, wakened by the commotion, they are joined by a sibling. With sudden parental authority the party comes to an abrupt end, and sleepily they retire to bed.
On the way they pass a window, and beyond the moonlight bathes over their surroundings, and in the stillness everything is cast in silver.
That doesn’t last either. Raindrops will be recognised by anyone who has tried to sleep in a tent, caravan, or in a room with a roof window and experienced the thunder that even a gentle shower of rain can produce.
Finally, they are lulled back to sleep again, and Lullaby reflects the sometimes bittersweet nature of sleep: it enables by incapacitating. Lullaby took on an especial poignancy for me as it was played at Faith’s funeral.
These notes are intended to provide some guidance if you wish to learn to play the Songs of Sweet Slumber yourself on the piano. Bedtime and Lullaby are both quite simple and straightforward. The only tricky part of The Silver Moon is the leaps (which occur throughout) where one hand covers a wide compass of the keyboard, passing over the other hand. The faster sections of Midnight Snack and Raindrops both require quite a bit more work.
Click through to read about each piece: