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Published: 21 January 2013

By Andy Ross

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How to get the baby to sleep

Do you know any lullabies? One of the very first songs I ever sang in public was a lullaby. Thula Mntwana was sung by Miriam Makeba and is a very well-known song from South Africa. Here it is sung by an choir of littlies, complete with harmonies.

Lullabies are amazing. They have hidden depths, sometimes concealing secrets in the simple tunes. This article, from the BBC magazine, caught my eye this week. One of the songs warns against hyenas and another is sung as a lullaby and as a funeral lament!

In Shetland, we have a few lullabies written down although I am sure there are more that are not in black on white. My favourite song to get folk to sleep is not strictly a lullaby but does the job just as well, Da Sang o da Papa Men, the words of which can be found here. It is a very versatile song; the ShantyYellMen perform a version, Fridarey has done it before, and many others perform it, but I think it works best as a quiet solo.

A few years back, Lullabies from the Axis of Evil introduced us to a whole new world of sounds and musical ideas. The album (on the iTunes store you can play some of the tracks) was pressed in 2004 two years after President Bush had used the term "Axis of Evil" to describe some countries. My favourite track is Sarah Jane Morris' collaboration with Mahsa Vahdat, Iranian song "Sad Sol". Beautiful and haunting.

Do you know any lullabies that we can pass on?