This piece was conceived as a short training exercise
(a loco-moto perpetuo, as it were) and virtuoso romp
for symphonic band in the tradition of early 20th
century composers (Casella), written primarily for the
amusement of my good friend, and fine musician, Eric
Fassbender. The simple melody of the beloved
children's song, "I've Been Working On The Railroad,"
provides a surprisingly rich source for motivic
material, either directly or through the use of various
There are five divisions in the Scherzo-Fantasy, the
first four separated by fanfare:
Exposition, where most source material is presented in
a more-or-less straightforward manner;
Development, where the tune is subject to various
treatments of contrasting colors, moods, and
Recapitulation, where prior material returns to
accompany the tune, now morphed into a hymn-tune, then
Finale, a march grandioso where all motivic material
returns outright, in counterpoint or ornamentally. A
train horn interrupts the final cadence, and a short,
descriptive coda concludes the piece, where the
remaining more unmusical canonic derivations are
utilized. The musical depictions of train horns that
occur throughout represent the variety of
harmonizations one may hear through the night air near
our home in Michigan, USA.
Yes- there is a snippet of the University of Southern
California's "Tribute to Troy" within the coda. We are
Trojan parents, and the tune fit quite well!
The Scherzo-Fantasy also contains several recurring
harmonic ideas, e.g. the melody harmonized with lowered
7ths and 3rds, and quartal harmony. These
harmonizations are not only for the sake of variety,
but also for the interesting results that fuel motivic
development. Many thanks to Marty Tousignant for his
suggestions and ideas.
The humor suggested by the scherzo character of the
piece is mostly broad (with apologies to Berlioz), but
at times, certain gestures that occur within the "band"
genre are gently parodied, and hopefully, they will be
recognized and enjoyed by those familiar with them.
Duration 9 minutes.
Grade 4-5 (Advanced)