Light Rail (2016)
4-channel fixed media
Download stems (87.6 MB)
I spent this past winter in an apartment right next to a railroad crossing, and shortly after moving in, I learned that the trains never stopped. All night, they’d go by, lights on and horns blaring. At first, everything about it was terrible. The trains made it impossible to sleep. But after some time, I no longer minded them; there was something musical about the rhythm of the tracks, how the thick fog diffused the bright headlights and the snow reflected the sound of the horns. The slightly-dissonant harmonies of passing trains would no longer wake me up, but rather become a part of a dream. Light Rail was inspired by this experience – of how something so loud and annoying could become musical, even pleasant at times. Throughout the piece, abstract train sounds take on a musical character. Recorded samples are blended with synthesized imitations, filtered into pitches, and melded into harmonic and tonal textures. At the height of the piece, melodic fragments and “real” instruments coexist with the trains, all a part of the same musical landscape.
Light Rail was written in memory of (and is dedicated to) my fiancée’s father, Neil Leibowitz, who moved to New York at the age of 65 to pursue his lifelong dream of driving subway trains.