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Hammer and Rail

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Travis J. Weller

Travis J Weller

General Info

Year: 2015
Duration: c. 2:15
Difficulty: II (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $55.00   |   Score Only (print) - $6.00


Full Score
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Brake Drum
  • Chain, Dropped
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

John Henry, a former slave, worked on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in the years following the Civil War. While drilling a hole through Big Bend Mountain in West Virginia, Henry was challenged to a worker’s duel – his hammer versus the steam drill that threatened the jobs of many of the men he called friends. From the moment the race ended, the legend of Henry beating the drill only to die with his hammer in his hand grew in story and song. This Old Hammer developed into a work song – a song where the rhythms served to synchronize physical movements in groups such as the grueling hammering common working on the railroad.

Whether or not the legend told through the song is completely accurate, Henry symbolizes several true and classic ideals: dedication to one’s obligations, supporting the people around you, and seeing a project through to the end – important principles in any walk of life. Through his decisions and actions, Henry confronted deeper issues still relevant today – namely protection in the workplace, human dignity, and justice. His story is further a reminder that while we are living in an age of technology, some things still need a decidedly human touch to be authentically created.

- Program Note from publisher

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer