The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Give Me a Laundry List (and I'll set it to music)

A lighthearted spin on a boast by composer Giaocchino Rossini

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: A famous boast by Giaocchino Rossini

The inspiration for this lighthearted romp is a boast made by prolific composer Giaocchino Rossini: “Give me a laundry list and I’ll set it to music.” Get ready for an over-the-top laundry list, some “hold onto your hat” modulations, a few sly barbershop voicings, and a classic “Rossini crescendo”!

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

Unlike most of us mortal composers who can easily labor over a single measure for hours, Giaocchino Rossini was famous for composing with confidence and speed. Legend has it that some of his overtures were composed the night before they were premiered.

Creating a musical setting of Rossini’s clever (if arrogant) boast was a delightful and irresistible challenge for me. Along the way, I threw in my own “laundry list” of not only lyrics but also music, for after the introduction’s classical counterpoint the song abandons all pretense of stylistic consistency. As an additional homage to the compositional shortcuts of prolific composers, my “laundry canon” builds up using a gradual additive technique that musicologists call a “Rossini crescendo.”


“Give me a laundry list and I’ll set it to music.”

Boast by Giaocchino Rossini

A shirt, a skirt, a girdle and a turtleneck,
A frock, a smock, a bonnet and a cotton sock,
A tartan, a parka, a cardigan, a caftan, and a cap,
Knickers and trousers, sweaters and jumpers,
Diapers and boxers and bloomers,
A pajama, a pashmina, balaclava, bandana, bikini,
A dashiki, a dupatta, a kimono, muumuu, tutu –
A cap and a sock and a shirt and a smock,
And diapers and diapers and diapers,
Diapers divisi doloroso!

Laundry List by Elizabeth Alexander
© 2016 by Elizabeth Alexander



Premiere: Farmington High School Choir / Scott Campbell (Farmington, CT)
Chicago A Cappella / Jonathan Miller (Naperville, Oak Park, Evanston and Chicago, IL)
Harmonium Choral Society / Ann Matlack (Madison, NJ)
Hill Country Singers / Glen Beeler (Round Rock, TX)
Octarium (Lawrence and Kansas City, KS)
South Bend Chamber Singers / Nancy Menk (South Bend, IN)
Durango Chamber Singers / Elizabeth Crawford (Durango, CO)

Premiere: Orange County Women’s Chorus / Eliza Rubenstein (Laguna Hills, CA)