Warp Factor Trek

The Star Trek Fan Website

It is a tale of enlightenment, consisting of 348 verses. It may not be necessary to include the complete narrative.” – Tuvok, “Innocence”

In the second season of Star Trek: Voyager, we got a pitch from writer Anthony Williams that involved Tuvok being stuck on a planet with a group of alien children who were mysteriously disappearing. I was assigned to write the script. Little did I know then that the assignment would lead me to write a unique song.

At first, it was hard for me to find a real connection to the idea for the episode, which sounded like a sitcom type of premise. But the show had established that Tuvok had children, which made his interactions with alien kids more intriguing. I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the idea of Vulcans as parents. How would a logical people tackle such an emotional task?

As the staff was breaking the episode into scenes, we discussed what actions Tuvok could take to reassure frightened children. Someone had the idea of him singing them a lullaby. The producers knew that actor Tim Russ had a good singing voice. So, we incorporated the lullaby into the story.

When he heard about this, Tim gave me a call. He was concerned that a Vulcan lullaby might seem too sappy. I shared his concern, and assured him that I would take a different approach.

I considered that Vulcans would use a lullaby as an educational opportunity, much like Aesop’s Fables were meant to teach lessons. There was a joke in the script about how the complete song consisted of 348 verses. A story about a journey seemed like it could stretch on that long. But what kind of journey might a Vulcan character take? One seeking knowledge, of course. I decided to make the moral of the story about how sharing knowledge was more fulfilling than gaining knowledge for oneself, which seemed like the kind of thing that a Vulcan parent might want to teach.

Of course, I’d never written the lyrics to a song before. Fortunately, I wouldn’t have to come up with the music. Episode composer Jay Chattaway would contribute the melody.

The challenge was essentially to write a Vulcan poem. I decided against trying to rhyme the lines. That seemed like a very human convention. I wanted the song to have poetic language, although nothing too flowery.

I came up with descriptions like the “clouded shores of Raal” and the “barren fire plains.” I included the name of a Vulcan sage, T’Para, and described the silent monks of Kir. We had never established the presence of Vulcan monks, but it seemed credible to me that they would exist. And that they would be silent as they contemplated the “religion” of logic.

I was very pleased with the music that Jay came up with for the lullaby. It was far from sweet and bouncy, but somber and almost sad. And I thought that Tim gave a wonderful performance, both of the song, and in the entire episode. I felt that we gained insight into the Tuvok character as a father, and could imagine him raising his own children to become logical adults.

As an unexpected bonus, I gained membership into ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Performers, for writing the lyrics to the song. I received very small royalty payments every time the episode aired. However, I’ve never written another song for Star Trek, or for anyone else.

Raal, as it appears in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount)

I understand that Raal appears as a location in the first episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. That’s great! I have no idea if the writers took the location from the lullaby in “Innocence”, but I’d like to think that they included the episode in their studies of Vulcan culture. Maybe I’ll even get another five cents from ASCAP.

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