Lady from the Past
Documentary Soundtrack (1986)
by Ron Hannah


Duration: about 15 minutes

    Serendipity best describes the genesis of this work. In my grade 5 music class happened to be the daughter of a local Canadian Broadcasting Corporation producer, who mentioned at the supper table one evening that he was looking for music for a new film. She replied that, hey, her music teacher writes music, and so it all began, and a commission to boot!

    The "lady" of the title is steam locomotive 6060, destined for the scrapyard but rescued by her former driver, a certain Harry Home, who rebuilt her and drove her to SteamExpo, part of Expo '86 in Vancouver. The score was performed entirely on a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer powered by an Atari ST computer - primitive stuff by today's standards, yet it worked well. The duration above is deceptive: I wrote about that much music, but the film makers, of course, chopped it up and used it in snippets. Very effectively, I might add.

    Later, I had the pleasure of meeting Harry as he and 6060 were giving short excursions to the public at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 1995. I even got to ride in the engine with him! A few days later I gave him a cassette tape of the minimalist-influenced soundtrack.

    The original tape has not been digitized, so I cannot provide an mp3 file. Best to seek out the film if you wish to hear it.