Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


Travel - (2013)    

Edna St. Vincent Millay

for medium voice and piano


The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn't a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.

2 pages, circa 2' 30"


The text is found in Second April, New York: Mitchell Kennerley, published in 1921. The text came to my attention, as a friend of my brother's read it to him before the screening of an old film by enthusiasts of collecting. In addition to film collection, my brother, Gordon, has served Travel Town in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, and on the Board of several rail enthusiasts groups. The wanderlust for travel, and especially by train, is within many of us, and nostalgia for this form of travel is shared by many.



The setting is minimalist, a simple succession of chords oft repeated, to accompany simple arches of melody.  The augmented chord as if heard off in the distance is intended to suggest one of the old tunings of steam whistles. Related and lightly more dissonant successions alter the mood for a moment, before a return to the simplicity of the first section.



The score for Travel is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.