Lullaby CDs, like Fred Mollin’s recently released Martha’s Vineyard Lullaby CD, adhere to their own set of parameters. Most important, the music must be pleasing and consistent so it doesn’t jolt the little one out of the land of Nod.
“It’s interesting and musical, but it’s also calming,” Mr. Mollin said. “It’s almost a science for us. There’s nothing there to make the unconscious nervous.”
Mr. Mollin has been composing lullaby music for Disney since 1998. His first four CD’s sold so well he became the most successful lullaby composer at Disney, he said.
“Parents are truly saying, our lives would have been different without this album,” he said.
Mr. Mollin is the father of two children, now 25 and 28. When he was young he wanted to be a singer/songwriter. But for many years he produced other artists, facilitating their vision, as he calls it.
“By making them the happiest artist, I became the happiest producer,” he said. During his long career he has produced music for Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Lucinda Williams, Billy Joel; the list of players continues throughout the decades.
Everything changed for Mr. Mollin in 1985 when he was asked to compose music for a feature film. It was good money, he said, and his scores were well received. He wrote music for sitcoms such as Beverly Hills 90210 and feature films, including Friday the 13th. He continues to produce music for Rita Wilson, Jimmy Webb and Johnny Mathis from his off-Island home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mr. Mollins’ newest CD features ten tracks, each dedicated to a unique Vineyard locale. The first song, South Beach Sunset, begins with the soothing sounds of waves lapping against the southern shore of the Island. The third track, Menemsha Walk, begins with the gentle sounds of birds chirping, and continues with a steady piano line mimicking walking. The tracks showcase his talents as a composer, pianist (he plays on a nine-foot grand piano) and guitar player. He also used a zoom recorder to gather natural Island sounds.
For the track Flying Horse Dreams, Mr. Mollin incorporated a motif similar to the sound of the calliope that plays in the Oak Bluffs carousel. The sound effects must be kept quiet, Mr. Mollin said. Otherwise, he runs the risk of waking the baby from her slumber.
“If you have the wrong sound effect, you can disquiet the baby. And you do not want to wake the baby once the baby is asleep.”
Mr. Mollin first came to the Island when he was 13, and immediately fell in love with it, he said.
“I’ve always felt like I belonged here. When I bought my home in 1990, I felt like it was a dream fulfilled . . . This place feeds me as a person. It brings the music out in me.”
In composing the music for this CD, Mr. Mollin used the Island as his muse, he said. The Island makes sense as a place to set a lullaby album, he added, because of the “pastoral images” its name evokes. Mr. Mollin’s job was to make music to complement those images.
“I think this will match [parents’] feelings of what serenity must be, what calmness must be.”
Creating the Vineyard lullaby CD has been beneficial to Mr. Mollin on many levels, he said.
“At least I know it’s serving a worthy purpose. It’s an honorable service to be able to hold a baby through my music and make the baby sleep.” It was also the first album he’s released on his own label, Katama Road records.
But he wouldn’t recommend bringing the disc to a party.
“Unless you wanted your partygoers to be sleeping.”
Mr. Mollin will be signing copies of the Martha’s Vineyard Lullaby Album on July 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Peter Simon Gallery in Vineyard Haven. Purchase the album at marthasvineyardlullabyalbum.com.