Head, Heart and Feet

Genre: Orchestral

Mood: Dramatic

Forces: Female voice, SATB, Symphony orchestra

Length: 20+ Minutes


A 20-minute piece for orchestra, chorus and soprano solo, commissioned for the millennium by Tonbridge Philharmonic Society.

Note: The downloadable score is 75 pages.

Sheet Music

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Head, Heart and Feet performed by Tonbridge Philharmonic Society (excerpts).

Programme notes

Head Heart and Feet, for orchestra and choir, is named for the parts of the body the music is intended to appeal to. Asked for a 20-minute piece, I decided early on that it should be a single movement. That meant I needed enough unifying ideas to make it all hang together, and enough variety to stop it being boring, so I developed a kind of rondo-variations form.

First comes a fanfare figure, very millennial and portentous. Then you get the first appearance of the theme: it’s a fast busy riff in semiquavers with a jumpy beat, first on a small group of instruments and then for full orchestra.

There are five main sections, with the theme returning in between. For unity, the music for the five sections comes to some extent from the theme. For contrast, the music is sometimes energetic music, sometimes reflective.

The five middle parts feature the various sections of the orchestra one by one, starting with the brass, who get a jazzy tune over an insistent percussion beat.

The next big tune is a solo for my ex-colleagues in the Phil’s viola section. Then there’s a violin solo, sometimes duetting with a single soprano voice; and then piano and strings all join in.
Next is a dreamy woodwind section with the theme going on very slowly in the bass. Each of the woodwinds, followed by the timps, gets a solo over string accompaniment.

The choir’s featured section is pure gospel music, with optimistic words for a new era, and the audience is asked to sing along. As Arlo Guthrie said, “If you want to end war and stuff, you gotta sing loud”!

The final section is for full orchestra - a kind of canon where the theme is played upside down and backwards (no, it is - honest!).

We hear the theme itself once more, and finally a reprise of the opening fanfare.

Programme notes copyright 2000 by F L Dunkin Wedd


First performance:
Tonbridge Philharmonic Society orchestra and choir, with Dilys Benson, soprano, Tonbridge School Chapel.