Along the Western Railroad

SATB and Piano

2 min

“from the Age of Steam”



Commissioned by the Harmonia Choir of Ottawa, director Kurt Ala-Kantti



This piece takes influence from the pop tune “I’m a Train” with a light heartiness feel and fast, train-like speed at which the song explores. This new composition has a folk inspired melody in two parts. It combines folk and contemporary writing; the slower cadences exemplify a more contemporary use of harmony and voice leading while the piano texture and verse melodies of the choir speak to a more traditional folk aesthetic. The piece is somewhat of a theme and variation form. Each verse and refrain repeat ideas while adding something new, or changing subtly. At times the instrumentation changes (which voice part sings at a time) or the texture changes (number of voices singing, or accompaniment is left out [optional]). The piano part changes throughout the short composition adding interest while providing a stable foundation for the choir.

The lyrics are adapted from a poem from the ‘Songs From the Age of Steam” no. 473 ‘Western Railroad’ The author is unknown, but the words date back to 1863 and can be found in the British Library (Shelfmark HS.74/1570/59). I freely adapted the text to suit my needs, the original poem is longer and some of the lyrics are in a different order in the original poem.



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