ukuðr was first performed at the Heidelberger Frühling Festival (Germany) in March 2007

Subsequently performed by KAMMERENSEMBLE NEUE MUSIK in May 2012 & August 2013


Commission: Heidelberger Frühling Festival


Duration: 8’


Instrumentation: clarinet, horn, percussion, piano, violin, viola, cello & double bass

KAMMERENSEMBLE NEUE MUSIK performing the opening of ukuðr


BKA Theater, Berlin, May 2012

“ukuðr” (Old Norse) is one of the many origins of the word “uncouth”. I have recently completed a work which takes a glimpse into the idea of nostalgia and it’s meaning. ukuðr is a continuation of this idea and the pieces I am writing at present will form some kind of meta-piece, as part of an ongoing project.

Uncouth and nostalgia are not as remote as ideas and words as they at first appear. Inherent in the meaning of nostalgia (from the Greek words “nostos” meaning return and “algos” meaning pain) is a sense of not knowing, of some kind of ignorance. Although the present day meaning (since the 16th century) of uncouth is an act that is or someone who is strange, clumsy or rude, the word actually derives from “cunnan” – to know. Therefore uncouth once meant not known or unknown. I like the idea of these two seemingly disparate meanings coming together in one word.

The structural idea is both clear and unclear – I mean this both in the sense of my approach to it and the outcome. My usual approach is to have a very fixed structural plan and I wanted to invite a wildness into not just the instrumental sounds but the whole work. The first section is a slab of aggressive sound – the musical direction from the top is “raw, rough, punk”. The ensemble is divided into three groups and each group has its own persistent idea and sound. I treat this first section as a found object to which I then literally take scissors. The slices, snapshots and fragments then remaining are re-ordered in a slightly incoherent way – fragments of memories from the opening all jumbled up.

© 2015-2017  Naomi Pinnock