Loki's Castle (2010)


I was fascinated by a natural phenomenon called “black smokers” while reading an article about nature.   Black smokers are a type of hot spring found on the deep ocean floor.  They are given the name black smokers because minerals in the water form a black chimney-like structure when hot water emerges through vents on the ocean floor.  Loki’s Castle is the name of a cluster of five active black smokers located in the mid-Atlantic ocean.


I wanted to evoke an oceanic image that is cold, quiet and dark.  In the depths of the ocean, there is also great gravity from the water pressure.  If there are organisms living there, it is hard to see them. The noodling figurations in the piece, however, hint that they do exist.  The timbres of the bass clarinet and alto flute at the beginning of the piece conjure the cool and dark qualities of the deep parts in the ocean.


Because the temperature around the black smokers is warmer and the waters around it stir quickly from the heat, the ocean floor near the black smokers may not be as dark and murky.  I imagine the area around the black smokers to be an enchanted zone where life forms that have been invisible are suddenly recognized from their faint glow.  Their appearances are reflected in a brighter section of the composition where I use unisons and homorhythmic textures.


A solo clarinet passage reflects a movement away from the black smokers.  The polychords that soon follow represent the mixture of warm and cold temperatures in the waters even further away.  When the black smokers are no longer in sight, the waters are once again cold and dark.  The high bell-like sounds in the percussion create a final impression of the ocean depth, as well as suggesting the great distance of the black smokers from the surface of the water.


© 2020 by Sang Mi Ahn (안상미). All rights reserved.

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