Railway Photograph • Robert Hanks • 2020

My friend, Robert Hanks, took this photograph on the Cambridge-Newmarket line last week. Lovely.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Graphic Representation of 19C Railway Acceleration • Sunday Times • 1970

Here is a diagram from the Sunday Times, Eureka; History of Invention from 1970.

The diagram is from the entry about steam railways and shows the shrinking effect, on geography, of mechanical railway acceleration in the middle of the 19C. Of course, the diagram is a generalisation…the country didn’t get smaller in such a regular way.

The geographical distortions associated with the acceleration of the railway machine-ensemble are much more complex, especially after the great cull of smaller lines, and the increasing speed of the main lines from 1960 onward.

Still, this is a diagram from 1970s; for a newspaper.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music of the Rails • Freight Train Whistles in the Night

Here is a film of an American steam train winding its way through the mountains. The driver, Steve, is giving the whistle his best blast. There’s a corny voice-over at the beginning which is best to ignore…

Quite apart from the lovely whistle sound, there is a plangent echo as the sound disappears into the vast landscape.

I’ve discovered that British and French whistles have a very different sound , and modern air horns have power, but less soul.

I’ve posted before about the music of the rails and about how all of American popular music derives from the sound of the railway track. I realised watching and listening to these films, that in addition to the track and mechanical sounds of the train, there are important additional sounds devolving from the warning bells of railway crossings and the echo-effects of the whistle. US locos have a bell on the front too.

All these sounds change in relation to each other as the train moves…producing strange doppler effects which are specific to being at tack-side, or on the train.

The soundscape of train travel is so strange and beautiful.

PS I was reminded of Moondog’s Tugboat Toccata and the lovely tug-boat whistle at the start of that piece. I discovered his equally lovely Choo Choo Lullaby

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music of the Rails • Flying Scotsman • BBCsounds • 2020

Here is a BBC sound recording of the famous Flying Scotsman…


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music of the Rails • Florian Schneider 1947/2020 • TEE (1976)

Here’s a wonderful picture of the French TEE from the 1970s.

I rode one of these trains between Paris and Toulouse in 1978. Happily, this was also the period of Kraftwerk’s famous TEE LP, and was probably the most stylish iteration of the train. I loved those internal venetian blinds.

I’ve posted before about these trains and about Kraftwerk, and about the history of machine-sounds as music.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music of the Rails • Pierre Schaeffer • 1948 • Fr

Here is a piece of railway music…A year later, Jean Mitry would do the same thing in cinema with Pacific 231 (1949). The first half especially.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Psychedelic Railway c1982

A lovely image from the music video, posted below, from 1982. I’ve posted before about the psychological effects of speed and railway travel in relation to Freud and Brecht etc. This is perfect.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music of the Rails • Long Train Running • Doobie Brothers • 1982

Great sounds, and great trains.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Film Poster • Buster Keaton • The General

and previously posted about, here https://bagdcontext.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2011/07/02/cow-catching-babbage-and-keaton-and-the-machine/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Railway Photography • Giancarlo Staubmann • CH • 2015

The Guardian had a story about this terrific photo


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment