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Topic: Atlantic Express

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  1. #1

    Atlantic Express

    Dear friends,

    May I open the new year on a speed railway track? The Belgian accordionist and composer Henri Coene wrote the Atlantic Express short after World War II. It became a smashing hit among accordion players at once, although it requires quite some skills. Henri Coene composed program music to evoke an old steam train starting, coming to convenient speed and then racing through the scenery from west to east. A constant pulsating rhythm illustrates the speed and movements of the engine's wheels' arms. From time to time, the steam flute is heard. Finally, the journey is over and the mighty train slows down to stop...
    The piece was originally written for accordion solo. Here's is the arrangement for orchestra:

    The Atlantic Express

    Enjoy the listening,

    Max

  2. #2

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Boy, this sounds like a real finger buster for an accordion player. I like what you did with this. It sounds exactly as you described it. ( the accelerating to high speed, etc). A nice post. Thanks Jay

  3. #3

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    Dear friends, May I open the new year on a speed railway track?...
    Yes you may, and I'm very glad you did, Max!

    My wife, Kate, and I just now had a wonderful time on that Belgian train. We brought to it our own unabiding love of trains and traveling on them, and this piece brought that to vivid life. It made us wish we've been on a European train, which we haven't - hope to some day!

    And you know, listening to this made me think, again, of how much I can enjoy "program music." The simple honesty of musically depicting a narrative can be just too fun to not enjoy. I don't care in the least that academics don't consider program music to be of much artistic value, and that in general it can be considered a bit low on the sophistication scale. I've long since grown very weary of cold, modern music which doesn't sound to me like anything more than the tedious mathematic formulae it's based on. Give me something dramatic, old fashioned maybe, something that can really engage my imagination - the way this "Atlantic Express" does.

    Super - Thank you!

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Hi Randy,

    Thanks you for your kind comment, but what I didn't tell you (and the other members) is, that this music tells about an American coast-to-coast train (West to East or vice versa). A giant steam engine that reached incredible velocity (at that time).
    I like the composition as well and as a matter of fact, I play that piece at almost every occasion (with or without an orchestra).

    Max

  5. #5

    Re: Atlantic Express

    That was a very enjoyable ride! What samples did you use? Is there any percussion in this work? I almost would love to hear some paradiddles in a snare drum but that’s just me. Although it was written for an American train, the accordion gives it that European charm to me. Great job, and great use of the samples.
    ~Rodney

  6. #6

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    ...this music tells about an American coast-to-coast train (West to East or vice versa). A giant steam engine that reached incredible velocity...
    Interesting, Max! Besides the accordion giving a European flavor to it, as Rodney pointed out, with all the minor chords and the style of the lead line, it has a European folk sensibility to it. Not a criticism of the composer, but an observation that we always compose from our personal point of view, just as we perceive reality that way. So here we have a European composer writing about an American train - and there's an American feel to the rhythm, but I think a European sensibility predominates the piece, and so it's different than if an American had composed it.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Interesting, Max! Besides the accordion giving a European flavor to it, as Rodney pointed out, with all the minor chords and the style of the lead line, it has a European folk sensibility to it. Not a criticism of the composer, but an observation that we always compose from our personal point of view, just as we perceive reality that way. So here we have a European composer writing about an American train - and there's an American feel to the rhythm, but I think a European sensibility predominates the piece, and so it's different than if an American had composed it.

    Randy
    Very interesting, I didn't notice that. In my opinion, the majority of Americans (North America) were European emigrants (Scandinavia, Ireland, UK...) and they must have brought their folk soul to the New Continent. So I wasn't aware of that difference. The Irish influences seem to be the purest nowadays (in my perception). Of course there must have been influences from the native Americans, Hispanics and Africans coming all together in a rich melting pot of sounds and rhythms.
    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Max

  8. #8

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    Very interesting, I didn't notice that. In my opinion, the majority of Americans (North America) were European emigrants (Scandinavia, Ireland, UK...) and they must have brought their folk soul to the New Continent. So I wasn't aware of that difference. The Irish influences seem to be the purest nowadays (in my perception). Of course there must have been influences from the native Americans, Hispanics and Africans coming all together in a rich melting pot of sounds and rhythms.
    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Max
    Hi, Max - It looks like I've taken your thread into an unexpected sub-topic, and I didn't mean to derail it - Hey, good choice of words - derail, trains--.

    You're absolutely right, that like everything else, music in America comes from a rich melting pot of cultural influences. It's been said many times that the only musical genre uniquely American is jazz. Everything else has its more distinct roots from Ireland, Germany, France, Russia, Africa, Mexico, and the list goes on to include influences from every point of the globe. The scores for classic Hollywood films made a major influence on a sound we might think of as "American," but it was composers from Europe or at least who were heavily influenced by European music who established a style in those soundtracks from the 30's through the '60's.

    Aaron Copland's music is something we all think of over here as "purely" American, because of course Copland made an indelible mark on the culture.

    But, as you said, America is a melting pot in every way. We've always suffered something of an identity crisis, and will always be far behind other countries as our history builds. Most countries have a culture that is distinctly theirs, with music traditions which are distinctly theirs. We have cultural hand-me-downs. We hear or play a folk song, "Ah, that's from England, ah, that's French."

    I over-simplify, but I'm saying - you're right. A diverse group of people from all over the world have influenced and shaped everything about American culture, including its music.

    And so to hear the European influence of this train music isn't to say it was written in an inappropriate idiom. The style makes perfect sense. If someone with a different background had written music specifically inspired by this particular high speed steam engine, that composer would have brought his own sensibilities to the music. Maybe I was trapped into some cliched but faulty thinking when I was hypothesizing that an American composer from the same period as Henri Coene would perhaps have written something less distinctly European - something more Coplandish. Maybe I was momentarily indulging in that all-American pastime of thinking everything here is uniquely "American" which was born in some kind of vacuum.

    And so forth. I loved reading your reply, and I felt like I'd maybe been a bit annoying in my earlier response, so wanted you to know that it's a very complicated subject our little conversation has touched on.

    Thanks again for very fun music.

    Randy

  9. #9

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Nice Rendition Max, I really enjoyed how you made this come 'alive'. Thought I was watching the 'Lawrence Welk Show' and seeing their accordion player playing with the show's band. Brought back memories of my parents and grandparent who loved this genre of music.

    Has to be an European train, if it was Amtrak, it would have broken down or stopped for freight trains more often during the trip.

    Thanks for an enjoyable listen!
    Bill
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  10. #10

    Re: Atlantic Express

    Quote Originally Posted by wrayer View Post
    Nice Rendition Max, I really enjoyed how you made this come 'alive'. Thought I was watching the 'Lawrence Welk Show' and seeing their accordion player playing with the show's band. Brought back memories of my parents and grandparent who loved this genre of music.

    Has to be an European train, if it was Amtrak, it would have broken down or stopped for freight trains more often during the trip.

    Thanks for an enjoyable listen!
    Bill
    Hi Bill,

    I suppose Henri Coene didn't know that. Moreover, if it was a Belgian train, it wouldn't move at all because of the many strikes...

    Max

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