Sunday, May 9, 2010


To some this may seem trivial, but to me and maybe a few others, a horrific symptom of the malaise of our society is that the trains passing through this town are no longer encouraged to sound their horns. Instead, at many train crossings, a long aluminum post with a speaker on top announces the arrival of a train with a recording of a train horn. It is a ghastly poor rendition of what a real BNSF train horn sounds like. Yep- to be sure, some of them trains is mighty loud, but at least there was a human being- the conductor carrying millions of dollars of freight to Barstow and no two train soundings was alike. And so consider the train horn-
As one fairly acquainted with music, train horns commonly play in unison two of the most dissonant intervals of the octave; 7ths and 2nds. These sort of intervals cannot form a triad-duh- the function of the noble, hardworking, BNSF train conductor is to scare things away from the tracks so he doesn't have to deal with turning them into jelly and bone fragments.
Every once in awhile I swear I heard a train sound a perfect 4th, wittily intersticed with the dissonance of his company policy. Some conductors compose their own blarings. What matters is
methinks a BNSF engine is equipped with a horn that is wind-driven. (one can just tell) Well I just hate that fucking robot train sound too close to my domicile. Emits the quality of bad cell-phone reception.
Does the conductor(oh yeah a good friend of mine is one) set his jaw with reticence to let a bad recording(always the same) announce his passage? Why do I sniff something Orwellian?


mahakal said...

The 7-limit 7th is quite consonant in fact, with a ratio of 7/4 it is subminor (968.8259 cents). And of course there is the supermajor 7-limit 2nd which is the 8/7 inversion of this.

Bob said...

Don't know if you heard this when it aired (2005), but the post reminded me of it.