Track (2004)

Duration: 28’
Electronic score created for Scottish Dance Theatre
Choreographed by Didy Veldman
Designs by Miriam Buether
First performed at the Repertory Theatre, Dundee, February 2004

In the autumn of 2003, soon after the world premiere of Fabulous Beast’s award-winning Giselle in Dublin, and (more importantly!) his wedding to Morag Beaton, Feeney set to work on the score of what would become Track for Scottish Dance Theatre. Longstanding Artistic Director, Janet Smith, had asked choreographer, Didy Veldman, to create a one-act dance work for her vibrant young company, and Philip Feeney was commissioned to write the score. In fact it was the youth of the company that Veldman chose to highlight, creating a work investigating the need of young people to ‘belong’. In a series of quasi-abstract vignettes she draws a picture of a bright generation with a subterranean fear of loneliness; in fact the last scene sees the dancers swaying in a unison line, which each leave but only momentarily, so great is the need to ‘belong’.

The score is something of a quodlibet, an eclectic mix of diverse musical elements, both stylistically and in specific details. Imported elements are embraced, such as the excellent laugh that periodically interjects the music like an unseen commentary. Original samples from Amy Freston (soprano), Dan Mullins (violin) and Paddy Jones (cello) are also superimposed on to the musical texture in the post-modern manner so beloved of the music industry. This is most notable in the wedding scene where the music is in a kind of reduced minimalism in the classical style (dubbed ‘Zinky Mozart’ by the creative team); here the voice and the strings are simply pasted on almost like graffiti, bearing no part in the development of the music.

The score opens with a dark electronic explosion followed by a melodramatic choral wail (itself a soundbite from Feeney’s Sanctus from the Hunchback of NotreDame) only for a high-spirited xylophone and piano melody to gradually emerge. This blend of the dark and unknown with the simple and banal is a characteristic of the piece. The dark electronic world is never quite as dark as it might seem – the cold and mysterious voices that come out of the depth are in fact singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in Italian; while the simplistic and the commonplace elements have a poignant edge, as in the little pizzicato vamp that accompanies the dancer (Ruth Janssen) parcel-taping her perceived cellulite, or the gentle circular barrel organ music of the last scene that is abruptly cut off by one final, but distant, explosion.

Track was remounted and restaged in a slightly reduced form by Monica Mengarelli for Unga Danskompaniet, Sweden in 2009.