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Extract from The Troubles Suite – Sheridan Tongue
For Oil Drum, Organ and Orchestra
First performed 9 October 2019 – The Ulster Hall, Belfast.
Yearning for the Light Concert
Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Ulster


For Oil Drum & Orchestra

  1. Stoking the Fears | II. The Troubles Elegy | III. Voice of The People

Listen here to the BBC recording of The Troubles Suite from The Ulster Hall. 


From the BBC program notes:

This suite is an orchestration of three pieces from the landmark BBC television series, Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History. It draws on the composer’s memories of growing up in Belfast and reflects the issues and events that are explored in these programmes.


Front cover of program from the concert. Illustration by Jonathan McHugh


Stoking the Fears opens with sounds that are redolent of street disturbances and conflicting positions or ideas. The effect is to create a sense of dissonance and disharmony. The original soundtrack from the television series used electric guitar ostinatos and a string quartet playing parts that, over time, move away from the harmonic centre. These have been re-arranged for woodwind and a full orchestral string section.


The Troubles Elegy, as its title suggests, is elegiac in its style and tone. It reflects a sense of melancholy and loss and of lives lost and damaged. A variation on this musical theme recurs several times within the BBC television series.


Voice of The People features a theme (played on violins) that became the main title music for these programmes. A strong and robust chord progression, driving forward with building momentum, is intended to reflect communities mobilising in response to different emotions – and sometimes against each other. The final movement of the orchestral arrangement is about the voices of ordinary people. After a long pedal note on C in the bass and a falling sequence of chords, we get a sense of relief as the bass notes resolve and start to follow the chords – conveying a sense of moving away from violent conflict. This piece doesn’t conclude with resolution – seeking instead to capture a feeling of the uncertainties and hurts that remain for many people.


Program notes from the concert.


Read my blog here on scoring my soundtrack to Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History.