Uncanny Vale

The Uncanny Valley
by Half-pass – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43809080

Uncanny Vale begins with a chaotic descent into a strange landscape of contrasting musical ideas, often lead by solo melodic lines. Once this landscape has been traversed, there is an ascent at other end of the vale, and a brief glimpse of a new unfamiliar vista. It is, therefore, a kind of pastoral, but instead of the musical representation of lush, rolling meadows, it explores nature as a dynamic, volatile and often disturbing force.

The title is an adaptation of ‘Uncanny Valley’, which is the name of a theory found in fields that involve representations of the human form, such as robotics or animation. In a nutshell, it refers to a sense of revulsion at a figure that very closely resembles a human being, but not closely enough to be truly realistic. The technological origin of the phrase pleasingly undermines the pastoral theme of the piece. At least, this is my justification for using such a terrible play on words.

10 minutes
Wind quintet
Fl(=afl).ob(=CA).cl.(= Ebcl).hn.bsn

Uncanny Vale was co-commissioned by Britten Sinfonia and Wigmore Hall following OPUS2014, a competition for unpublished composers. The commission was made possible by the generous donations of 22 people including principal commissioners Roger and Susan May and one donation in memory of Ettore Fenaroli, as part of Britten Sinfonia’s Musically Gifted campaign. Wigmore Hall acknowledges the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Fondation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation.


03/12/2014Britten SinfoniaWigmore Hall, London
02/12/2014Britten SinfoniaWest Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
18/03/2014Britten SinfoniaSt Andrew’s Hall, NorwichWP