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Earth’s surface

Our Inferno project launches today, bringing Dante’s vision of Hell to life through sound – over the coming days we’ll be taking you on a trip through some of the zones of the Inferno to hear some of the fantastic contributions to the project, marking 700 years of The Divine Comedy.

We start – naturally – at the beginning of the journey, on the Earth’s surface, with Dante unwittingly set out on his voyage and two brilliant pieces setting the scene.

We begin the project with “The Lost Poet” by Mark Taylor:

“Canto 1 and 2 of Inferno take place entirely on the surface of the Earth, so I decided to base my music around the strong narrative contained within these opening verses:

“Opening Section:
Dante is halfway through his life. We find him walking along contentedly, but there is an edge of melancholy to his mood; something is missing.

“Section 2 (starts at 1 min 4 seconds):
He has unwittingly wandered into a dangerous forest. Panic rises – he feels more and more desperate, trapped and hopelessly lost.

“Section 3 (starts at 2 min 32 seconds):
Just as he feels that all hope is gone, Dante sees a shining light above a distant hilltop. Maybe he can find his way back to the right path?

“Section 4 (starts at 3 min 6 seconds):
Dante tries to climb the hill and reach the light but his path is blocked by three terrifying beasts. A heroic confrontation ensues as he tries to find a way past them and reach salvation.

“Section 5 (starts at 4 min 16 seconds):
A despairing Dante is forced to retreat back into the forest but his misery is lifted by the unexpected appearance of the Roman poet Virgil. Virgil’s spirit has been sent to guide Dante back towards the light.

“Section 6 (starts at 5 min 10 seconds):
Virgil warns Dante that before they can climb the hill they must first pass through the place of eternal punishment (Hell) and then a place of lesser punishment (Purgatory); only then can they reach God’s city (Heaven). Slowly but surely, they begin their journey. Dante is determined but still full of doubt.

“Section 7 (starts at 6 min 14 seconds):
Approaching the edge of the forest they see a distant, first sight of the Gates of Hell.

“Created using Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate software running in Sonar X3 DAW.”

Our second piece from the Earth’s surface is this equally-lovely composition by Elska:

“This soundscape represents Zone 1: Earth’s Surface; an ethereal introduction to Dante’s journey before he reaches the entrance to hell. The dark forest sequence is depicted with samples of nature sounds that I took in a forest upstate New York.

“The resonant gongs at the beginning of the piece are from a bodhran drum. The piano tracks are the droplets of light. You can also hear bits of a music box sample that is distorted. I used a field recordings of waves crashing that I took in Cape May, NJ. I manipulated this sample to represent the earth’s erosion and also the danger ahead and encounters with animals.

“Virgil, his guide, is represented in the vocal passages. I wanted to create depth and dimension as a foreshadowing approach to mimic and portray the landscape and the long journey before him. I tried to do this with panning and reverb. All samples are mine. Others include rain, footsteps, church bells and a few patches processed through an instrument called an organelle.”