A Storm of Drones (3 × CD) Valley Flow

Valley Flow

Denis Smalley

  • Year of composition: 1991-92
  • Duration: 7:07
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: BEAST with support from West Midlands Arts
  • ISWC: T0103350464

The formal shaping and sounding content of Valley Flow were influenced by the dramatic vistas of the Bow Valley in the Canadian Rockies. The work is founded on a basic flowing gesture. This motion is stretched to create airy, floating and flying contours or broad panoramic sweeps, and contracted to create stronger physical motions, for example the flinging out of textural materials. Spatial perspectives are important in an environmentally inspired work. The listener, gazing through the stereo window, can adopt changing vantage points; at one moment looking out to the distant horizon, at another looking down from a height, at another dwarfed by the bulk of land masses, and at yet another swamped by the magnified details of organic activity. Landscape qualities are pervasive: water, fire and wood; the gritty, granular fracturing of stoney noise-textures; and the wintery, glacial thinness of sustained lines. The force and volatility of nature are reflected in abrupt changes and turbulent textures.


Valley Flow was realized at The Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada) in 1991 and was completed at the composer’s studio in Norwich (UK) in 1992. It incorporates sounds created at IRCAM in Paris (France) during a previous research period (1989) and further materials subsequently developed at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver (Canada) in 1991. Valley Flow premiered on February 27, 1992 in a concert broadcast live from BBC Pebble Mill Studios. This piece was commissioned by the Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST) with funds provided by West Midlands Arts.


  • February 27, 1992, Music in our Time, Pebble Mill Studios — British Broadcasting Corporation, Birmingham (England, UK)


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