Missouri-Pacific 587 (2020)

Missouri-Pacific 587

Train songs are a common occurrence in blues, but not so in recorder music. And I wanted to have a musical picture of a train coming from the distance, disappearing into the distance, and in between all the different car designs (whether with brand logos, or with graffiti) streaming past.

So how do you convey the imposingness of a freight train of 50 or more cars, riding the MoPac tracks on the west side of Austin, which I regularly hear in the night? Well, you clearly need somewhat massive forces. In this case, I used all 6 voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass, great, contra) of the recorder family, but each instrument thickened by multiplying it up to five times, giving a total of 23 parts. Each of the “multi-instruments” has the voices playing more or less in the same rhythm. The texture mostly builds by having these groups come in and drop out, and for the most part only C groups play together, or F groups play together.

In keeping with my general tendency to avoid too many high instruments, the three sopranos have the fewest notes to play.