New book explores musical inspiration from railways


And as Dr. Winterson explains, she has deep family ties to the railroads that inspired her to write her new book.

“I have always had an interest in railways, as as a child we spent idyllic holidays at Pool in Wharfedale where my grandfather was stationmaster.

“It was a bit like in ‘The Railway Children’, I even had the right to operate the signals!

“I come from a family of railway workers, my great-grandfather was a stationmaster at Hawes in North Yorkshire and other relatives worked as plaque-layers and clerks. It’s really in the blood.

But music, as well as railways, is also in Dr. Winterson’s blood. After studying music at Huddersfield Polytechnic, she then attended the Royal Academy of Music as a postgraduate clarinetist before returning to Huddersfield to teach music at the city’s Technical College.

She went on to work for Edexcel, was head of new music for renowned music publishers Peters Edition and lectured on music at the University of Huddersfield. “Railways and Music” isn’t his first release, having penned more than 20 music textbooks, but it’s a labor of love that the COVID-19 pandemic has given Dr. Winterson time to indulge.

“I really enjoyed it because it gave me a chance to be more creative,” she adds. “Lockdown gave me all the time in the word to write it, which was lovely.”

“The arrival of the railways changed society and changed everything. All over Europe, pieces of music were written for the opening of new lines. The Strauss family, for example, wrote many plays for these kinds of occasions, but curiously this did not happen in the UK. It may have been a kind of snobbery, but in the UK it was more the case where music hall songs referred to the railways.

“In popular music, people are attracted by the notions of departure and return and the railways contribute to this service. In the United States, the blues was born from people who left the south to go to Chicago and dream of the past. Hobo tradition sees people always moving forward, riding trains, getting casual work wherever they go, and going elsewhere.

“There are so many examples of trains and railway tracks in the music that it was hard to know what to focus on. Tom Waits has cultivated this hobo image, and he is obsessed with trains and collects train sounds. Bob Dylan referenced railroad imagery in his lyrics, and Captain Beefheart’s “Click Clack” sounds like train movement right from the start in a way I haven’t really found anywhere else.

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