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Alex Shapiro, composer email

TRAIN OF THOUGHT

for Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone, French Horn, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba,
and Pre-recorded Audio.

Created to be adaptable for other instruments.

Conductor optional, but encouraged.



Composed by Alex Shapiro.

Composed for the 2015-16 Cochran Chamber Commissioning Project, and Paul Kile, Director of Bands at Edina High School, Edina, Minnesota.

2015; Duration 8:47. Grade 5.
Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).



score cover

Click here to listen! listen to TRAIN OF THOUGHT

The streaming MP3 of the DEMO recording, for reference.

TRAIN OF THOUGHT is available as a physical, bound set of score and parts plus audio download, or as a digital set of .pdf score and parts, plus audio download.

Click here to order from Activist Music ORDER TRAIN OF THOUGHT



stock footage of train tracks, with thanks to the unknown photographer.

THE SCORE
(email Alex for code access)

PERUSAL ONLY; not for performance or duplication.

.pdf file of the TRANSPOSED SCORE,

8 1/2 x 11; 29 pages including cover and notes.

score, 8 1/2 x 11-single-side

 

stock footage of passing train, with thanks to the unknown photographer.

THE RECORDING

MP3 stream of a reference DEMO recording of
TRAIN OF THOUGHT
(8:47)

AIFF file of DEMO recording.

 

stock footage of train, tracks, with thanks to the unknown photographer.

THE PROGRAM NOTE

A year before this piece was even imagined, my Vermont composer friend Dennis Bathory-Kitsz happened to post a short video on Facebook of a neighborhood Amtrak train zipping past his lens and microphone at full speed. There was something hauntingly beautiful about the particular chords and rhythms of that moment, and after replaying the clip several times I sensed that maybe sometime in the future, I could make use of these evocative sounds. I asked Dennis to return to the edge of the tracks and collect more audio samples. After cataloguing the pitches and patterns so I could view them as musical elements, I tucked the edited files away, for an unknown project.

That project appeared the next year, in the form of this commission. I was invited to compose for a small group of any instruments commonly found in a wind band. Being the underdog-loving gal that I am, rather than include the usual all-stars of flute, clarinet or trumpet, I chose six, much lower-register instruments which deserve more repertoire. And, instead of taking a traditional approach to band instruments which tends— in my own works as well— to enjoy fast and remarkably loud notes whenever possible, I decided to offer these musicians the challenge of playing something moody, slower, and often quiet. The sound of a train summons many different emotions, from anticipation, to regret. Recalling the files I had previously edited, I knew the timbre of this ensemble would be the perfect match.

As it turns out, TRAIN OF THOUGHT will be very effective with many types of instrumental groups— all brass, all woodwind, etc. But its first trip down the tracks is dedicated to the Cochran Chamber Commissioning Project, its inspired band director and educator Paul Kile, and all the heroes of the low-pitched world!

 

Alex in Vermont

Alex standing across the road from composer Dennis Bathory-Kitsz's
Vermont home. The tracks of the train heard in TRAIN OF THOUGHT
are just on the other side of the old covered bridge.

PERFORMANCE NOTES

TRAIN OF THOUGHT is an unusual offering for the low wind chamber repertoire. A pensive, moody piece that is sometimes chorale-like, it challenges musicians to synchronize and blend with the atmospheric audio track, to play rather quietly in many spots, and to focus on intonation and breath control. There are moments where the ensemble forms beautiful chords, with enough time on each to center their pitch and learn to hear each other.

While not required, a conductor is encouraged, because the audio track events are sometimes syncopated and phase-shifted, making it easy to momentarily lose the sense of where a downbeat is— especially as the meters occasionally shift.

In any hall, it's hard for a performer to hear a whooshy audio track like this one. Musicians should download the accompaniment track and practice to it on their own— even if they just play the recording (which has the click) while visually reading their part and not even playing it on their instrument.

Instrument substitutions, if needed, should work very well. For instance, there's a lot for a bass clarinetist to do, and the part will sound equally good on bassoon or tenor sax. The bari sax could easily be handed by low brass, and the addition of a double bass on the tuba or euphonium parts would be beautiful. Furthermore, the piece could be done homogeneously by either a woodwind group of saxes and clarinets, or a low brass group plus French horn.

The score and parts include a reference staff for the audio track, offering pertinent information as to what the player hears. "Ostinato" is marked for onward, repetitive figures, and "pad" is used to indicate a constant low pitch. Text is present throughout to clearly define sounds and events.

 

Old tracks on the Highline in NYC

A rather botanical section of tracks, seen through
Dennis Bathory-Kitsz's lens.


WASBE World
WASBE World

Alex has written an extensive two-part article about electroacoustic band music and the uses of multimedia in the concert world. The essay, titled The e-Frontier: Music, Multimedia, Education, and Audiences in the Digital World echoes the presentations she gave at The 2013 Midwest Clinic and the 2014 TMEA convention, and appears in the June and September 2014 issues of the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World. The pdf is offered here with the very kind permission of the organization.

Click here for the full .pdf file readThe e-Frontier

 

 

canoe ready to launch off driftwood

Another form of transport on San Juan Island, WA,
resting on its own set of "tracks."

THE CONTACT INFO

The VERY best way to reach Alex is through email, by clicking here Email Alex!

Email Alex!

You can also leave a voice message or a fax at:
(270) 916-0093, and she'll return your call.

Call Alex!

 


Home
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You're here
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