One Bright Day in the Middle of the Night - (2010)
for medium voice and piano
One bright day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.
They turned their backs and faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot the other.
One was blind and the other couldn't see,
So they chose a fool for their referee.
A mute eyewitness screamed with fright.
A cripple danced to see the sight.
A deaf policeman heard the noise.
He came and shot the two dead boys.
A paralyzed donkey passing by,
Kicked the copper in the eye,
And knocked him through a rubber wall,
Into a ditch and drowned them all.
If you don't believe this lie is true,
Ask the blind man. He saw it too.
[ 3 pages, circa 1' 55" ]
From the Nuremberg Chronicle
The notion of the sun and moon side by side in centuries old, as are such notions of the dead getting up, or the deaf hearing. Opposition of opposites has been one foundation of humor, and this anonymous text -- merely one from many alternative readings and remembrances over generations -- is about the impossibility of opposites. In like manner, other nonsense poems (such as Lügenmärchen) feature many similar notions, such as the blind man who sees. We amuse ourselves with impossibilities. A rather complete survey of some of the many alternative texts is found at the The British Columbia Folklore Society's site, one among many collecting variants and discussing this verse.
The setting is starkly in F major, the slight development of initial themes showing as variations when they recur. It is meant to be silly, an accompaniment somewhat delicato as appropriate.
The challenge by the speaker assures the audience in the distant mediant major domain that all is "true." The setting ends with a simple scale downward, signifying....
The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.
One Bright Day in the Middle of the Night