Saturday, March 17, 2007

Different Trains, Every Time

Welp, the weekend fit of Lousy Smarch Weather has indeed cancelled Nate's flight to NYC, so instead of having a metropolitan weekend I'm just going to duck down for the evening to catch Christian Tetzlaff zigzagging through Ligeti's Violin Concerto with the NY Philharmonic (presuming the weather holds, which it looks like it's doing by now). I like snow days a lot—Friday work, for example, was pleasantly low-impact due to a midafternoon "use your discretion" crypto–office-closure—but, it's obviously less nice when it interrupts actual plans. And also there's the part about walking around in freezing gusts of raining ice.

Good to have had a St. Patrick's Day parade last weekend, so I don't feel like I'm missing much by having a lazy snow-muted day in the meantime.

It occurred to me this morning to find out whether you can find audio samples of different train whistles online, and you can. Actually I mean air horns, not whistles. My ears have always perked up when I've heard these but I've never known anything about them. That bright added-sixth chord you hear a lot turns out to be a number called the Airchime K5LA, the most common air horn used in North America. Check out the moodier Nathan M5, too; I think that's also a familiar one. More info, pictures, and (a treat) identification of the chords here. Good times.

If you poke around that website you notice it's run by folks who purchase and restore railroad air horns and then rig them up on pickup trucks. I'm now tentatively planning to pick up this hobby in late middle age, most likely through a period of time starting when my someday-kids have left for college and ending when my someday-wife packs a suitcase and says it's either her or the goddamn train whistles.


Blogger Nate said...

Thanks for looking that up, that's really neat. I can faintly hear train whistles from my apartment sometimes, only at night; next time I guess I'll have to try to identify the horn. I do like that AirChime K5LA -- this particular recording (of, I guess, a diesel engine starting up) shows it off to good effect.

Let us know how the Ligeti concerto turns out; it's a little bothersome that I couldn't get into the city in any kind of reasonable fashion, but hey.

Oh, and Jack's been waiting all weekend to use that "lousy Smarch weather" line, folks.

3/17/2007 2:27 PM  

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