Trains of Thought (Shapiro)

From Wind Repertory Project
Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro

Subtitle: For Concert Band and Pre-Recorded Soundscape

General Info

Year: 2017
Duration: c. 7:15
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Sextet
Publisher: Alex Shapiro
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) - $38.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Double Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-toms
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Trains of Thought began life as a slightly longer electro-acoustic sextet for a sultry combination of instruments that deserves more repertoire: bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, French horn, trombone, euphonium, and tuba. This initial, more intimate version was commissioned in 2015 by Paul Kile, director of bands at Edina High School in Edina, Minnesota, for the Cochran Chamber Commissioning Project. Halfway into the enjoyable process of composing it, I couldn’t stop thinking how compelling it would be if someday I expanded the music to suit the textures of a full wind band.

Two years later, Adam Campagna and the W.F. West Wind Ensemble in Chehalis, Washington, offered me the opportunity to act on my impulse to adapt the original work for band. The two versions share many of the same themes and accompaniment track textures, but early into the adaptation process, I discovered that a broadened version of the music demanded a fresh approach to the materials. I nipped, tucked, and re-arranged the phrases and motives, and the result is that the chamber version is akin to a painter’s watercolor or line drawing prototype of what eventually becomes an enormous oil canvas.

A year before the first version of this piece was even conceived, my Vermont composer friend Dennis Bathory-Kitsz happened to post a short video on Facebook of a neighborhood Amtrak train zipping past his lens and microphone at full speed. There was something hauntingly beautiful about the particular chords and rhythms of that moment, and after replaying the clip several times I sensed that maybe sometime in the future, I could make use of these evocative sounds. I asked Dennis to return to the edge of the tracks and collect more audio samples. After I catalogued the pitches and patterns so that I could view them as musical elements, I stowed the edited files away, for an unknown, unimagined project -- never guessing the amount of joy I’d get creating not one but two iterations from the recordings.

Everyone experiences the elusive feeling of repeatedly pondering something, and -- with or without our permission -- sensing the concept rattle down an endless set of internal tracks. Soon those thoughts wander somewhere else, sometimes related, and just as often, not. Our psyches dance between that which is linear and that which appears from seemingly nowhere in a waking dream-state. Whether we’re losing our train of thought as our focus derails, or are trying our best to hold on to it, our minds have tracks of their own.

- Program note by composer


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) Concert Band (Thomas Duffy, conductor) - 1 December 2023
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Concert Band (Arris Golden, conductor) - 12 October 2021
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Belton, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Connor Thompson, conductor) - 1 October 2019
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Symphonic Band (Sharon Toulouse, conductor) - 2 May 2019
  • University of Toronto (Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Gillian MacKay, conductor) - 5 April 2019
  • W.F. West Wind Ensemble (Chehalis, WA) (Adam Campagna, conductor) - 31 May 2018
  • University of Puget Sound Wind Ensemble (Tacoma, WA) (Gerard Morris, conductor) - 3 March 2018 (Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference)

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Alex Shapiro Website
  • Shapiro, A. (2017). Trains of Thought: For Concert Band and Pre-Recorded Soundscape [score]. Activist Music: Friday Harbor, Wash.