The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Things That Go Bump in the Night

A humorous and courageous journey from dusk to dawn

Words by Elizabeth Alexander

A humorous and courageous journey from dusk to dawn, opening with night sounds both soothing and frightening and concluding with the following morning’s conquered fears. This three-movement work contains more than a few special effects, humorous moments, and ghost-story tropes, offering a light-hearted spin on our imagined fears.

Movements:
I. …And the Moon Is Listening
II. There It Is Again!
III. Things That Go Bump In the Night

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

WARNING: This piece is not for a shy choir!

Singers are asked to speak, whisper, shout, moan, click their tongues, rub their hands together, snap their fingers, stomp their feet on the floor, and become party cats.

Neither may the pianist be a shrinking violet! The pianist is asked to strum, pat and dampen strings, as well as playing chord clusters with the whole forearm.

Many measures in this piece do not have time signatures. Do not panic. These measures contain special effects and spoken words, and should simply be given as much time as they need.

How This Piece Came to be Written:

Things That Go Bump in the Night was composed with and for students at Edward Smith Elementary School through the Syracuse Society for New Music’s Composers-in-the-Schools program.

The composition of this piece was truly collaborative. Before I came on the scene, the students chose the theme, and produced a wealth of creative writing on that theme. I edited their poems, stories and descriptions, assembling the lyrics into three songs. Then, groups of student composers met with me, choosing time signatures, tempos, and chord qualities; composing melodies, rhythms and harmonies; assigning parts to instruments; and adding special effects. Finally, I forged their ideas into a large work which the student musicians performed for their teachers, parents, and friends.

After this piece was completed, I couldn’t believe how many adult choirs wanted to perform this work! Several did, adapting the children’s choir piece on their own, until finally The Festival Choir of Madison commissioned an “official” SATB version of this song.

Text

Things That Go Bump In the Night

I. And the moon is listening…

I lie in bed at night and listen.
Doors creak and walls moan,
Faucets drip and the house is settling.
And the moon is listening…

I lie in bed at night and listen.
Mice creep and clocks tick,
Cars send signals across my ceiling.
And the moon is listening…

My cats go bumpity-bump all night,
On the table knocking things down!
Bumpity-bumpity-bumpity-bumpity-bump!

I lie in bed at night and listen.
Snow falls and branches sway,
Wind chimes clatter in the breeze.
And the moon is listening…And I drift to sleep…

II. There it is again!

Cracking lumber
Wakes me from my slumber,
And my fear is born.
Sky and clouds brawl,
Simple things make my skin crawl,
And I feel anything but warm.
I hold my breath and dare not make a peep.
I try to go back to sleep.
I can’t go back to sleep…

Scratch Scrunchity Scritch — What’s that?
I hear a creaking and a moaning,
Souls in agony are groaning.
There it is again!

Scratch Scrunchity Scritch — Who’s there?
It’s getting louder, and louder, and louder!

Is it alive or is it dead?
Something’s creeping under my bed!
Is it a horseman without a head?
I want to scream for my mom and dad!
There it is again!

Scratch Scrunchity Scritch
I feel my hair rising… rising… higher and higher to the roof!
I’m (BUMP) — I’m (BUMP) — I’m so scared I can’t open my eyes!
I’m (BUMP) — I’m (BUMP) — I’m so scared I jump out of my Pjs!
I’m (BUMP) — I’m (BUMP) — I’m so scared I start to grow a beard!
I’m (BUMP) — I’m (BUMP) — I’m…

Open the door to my closet.
Trying to find what could cause it.
Is it a spider on a string?
Is it a big green gooey thing?
Is it a vampire whose teeth go cling?
There it is again!
I feel my house shaking…shaking…shaking…No, I’m shaking!

A roar and a rip and then I know
It’s a… it’s a… it’s a…
And it’s coming closer, and closer, and closer, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
It opens up my door! Its eyes turn red!
And it’s coming towards me and I hear this noise…
(Adult voice) GET BACK IN BED!

I turn on the light, not a shadow in sight —
So I go back to sleep, and I don’t hear a peep.

III. Things That Go Bump in the Night

I pull the covers from my face,
and glance around the room.
The light of dawn reveals no trace
that I had been visited by creatures of doom.
Things that go bump in the night just might
make somebody get light with fright.
They get so scared that they might be cared
by the things that go bump in the night.
But they know it isn’t true,
And hopefully so do you.

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander with students at Edward Smith Elementary School
© 1997 by Elizabeth Alexander

Performers

Performers

COMPLETE WORK
Premiere: Women in Harmony / Catherine Beller-McKenna (Portland, ME)

Bella Voce Singers / Jessica Corbin (Brooklyn, NY)
Lamar High School Chorale Women / Gail Land (Houston, TX)
Vox Musica / Daniel Paulson (Sacramento, CA)

Selections
Lamar High School Chorale Women / Gail Land. Texas Music Educators Convention (San Antonio, TX)
Olive Branch High School Choir / Joelle M. Norris. ACDA Southern Division Conference (Memphis, TN)
Voca Lyrica / Virginia Kerwin. 11th Annual Invitational School Choral Festival (Big Rapids, MI)