Blue Thunder

Commissioned by Dr Nicholas Childs and the National Youth Band of Great Britain
for the National Children's Band of Great Britain10th Anniversary in 2013.
With funds provided by the Arts Council of England


The Mallard 4468 is an LNER Pacific steam locomotive.  The train is famous for holding the world speed record, for a steam locomotive, of 126mph (actual 125.88).  The feat was recorded on the Stoke Bank stretch of line, just north of Grantham, on 3rd July 1938.  Blue Thunder was composed in 2013 to mark the 75th anniversary of this record and the 10th anniversary of the National Children’s Band of Great Britain.  The title is a reference to the noise and excitement that this famous blue train would have generated on its epic achievement.  

The music opens slowly with the train pulling out of the station, the tempo gradually increases and we hear the whistle blow as it gathers momentum.  The fast paced and busy opening theme evokes images of the train pulling its load out of the city on the ever changing inclines of its line.  The music eventually becomes gentler as the train glides to and fro through the countryside. and the thematic material for this section derives from the Mallards engine number 4468, with the opening bars of the theme comprising of a Major 4th, Major 4th, Major 6th and an octave or 8th.

As the piece closes, three further whistle blows are heard from the band, the final being cut off as the Mallard disappears through the entrance of Stoke Tunnel.


The work opens with all performers chanting the phrase “chi-ca-ch”, helping percussion imitate the sound of the train starting off from the platform.  There are also choreography markings to ao add a visual experience for your audience to enjoy.


Difficulty Level: Easy - Intermediate

Duration: 00:04:45

Available from: Yewden Music